January 9—February 6, 2010
Opening January 9, 2010, 7—10 pm
Rebecca Ann Hobbs
Monte Vista is pleased to announce our first exhibition of 2010, featuring Ah-round, a single channel video by Australian artist Rebecca Ann Hobbs. About the work, Hobbs says:
Ah-round was made in the summer of 2008, during which time I was involved in a romantic relationship with Madou, the man in the video. Madou and I endeavored to make a work together that celebrated our shared experiences in spite of our apparent differences. He is from Mali and has been living in New Zealand for almost fifteen years now. I, the woman behind the camera, am from subtropical rural Australia and have been in New Zealand for about four years. Mali is a land-locked West African country, whereas New Zealand is an island in the South Pacific. Madou, confident in front of the lens, and I, preoccupied with the lens-based medium of video, realized that it was only natural for us to make a moving image piece together, yet we were also acutely aware of all that we represented as people and how that would affect the reading of the work. We decided that it would be best to confront our concerns candidly, whilst trying not to be too inhibited by the histories that separate us.
The images in Ah-round are quite literal. They intentionally appropriate iconography found in Romantic representations of the “Other.” These images support an Imperial power structure by incorporating motifs that reinforce existing stereotypes. In this instance, the “Noble Savage” is located in the exotic and faraway Pacific jungle. However, this particular “jungle” is made up of potted plants and exists in an overtly constructed space, a greenhouse. There are also satellite dishes, urban brick houses, a polo shirt, and a manmade ceiling—elements that intrude upon our idea of an untouched wilderness. Ah-round is intended as a parody; Romantic conventions are lampooned in order to make them seem ridiculous.
This work is founded on my research into Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism. Of particular interest to me is the idea of the active subject. It was important that Madou was actively negotiating the situation, an independent being, in charge of his circumstances. I have also been researching Marcus Garvey’s work and his supporting ideologies. Garveywas an advocate of Pan-Africanism and he established a shipping company called the Black Star Line. The BSL functioned as a business, as Garvey believed that empowerment could be achieved via financial security, but it was also a logistical strategy to move black people who were victims of the diaspora back to Africa, the Motherland. Financially, the BSL failed in the end, but the power of Garvey’s ideas have remained. The 360-degree camera movement of Ah-round represents the idea of moving full circle and pays tribute to Garvey’s BSL ambitions. The song that Madou is listening to is “Traveling,” by Burning Spear, from the album “Spear Burning.” Burning Spear, also known as Winston Rodney,cites Garvey’s philosophy as a major influence in his life.
Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. Vintage, 1994. Grant, Colin. Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey. Oxford University Press, 2008. Nelson, Stanley. Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind. 2001.