23 November 2002 - 16 February 2003
The New Gallery light well was transformed into a virtual aquarium for the duration of Michel Tuffery's installation . From the space fifteen "hyper-bred" fish, up to 2.5 metres in length, were hung. In the mouths of two of the fish were tiny digital cameras that recorded the other fish aroMata Mataund them and the reactions of visitors to the Gallery. These images were relayed to television monitors in the window work down at street level. The title of the work, Mata Mata meaning watching in Samoan, made reference to this act of surveillance which reversed the usual situation between hunter and pray - the viewer becoming the viewed and the watched becoming the watcher. It also alluded to the high-tech observation systems that are being developed to monitor fish stocks as part of an effort to stem the overfishing of the Pacific, which is an ongoing theme in Tuffery's work.
Performance: Mata Mata - phusion
8 March 2003
To celebrate the end of the installation Tuffery, accompanied by students from St Paul's College, engaged in an incendiary performance in the forecourt of the Main Gallery. Under Tuffery's direction the students had made four large bamboo towers which they had covered with paper and spray-painted heads on. Within the structure of these towers the fish were hidden. To the sound of pacific drumbeats, the students manoeuvred the heads around the forecourt in a dramatic choreography led by Tuffery. The towers were then placed in the fountain where the students fire-breathed on them, setting them alight and thus revealing the fish inside, before they too burned.
The artist and Gallery would like to thank the students of St Paul's College and their teacher John Ioane, for their involvement in this project. This project was generously supported by Creative New Zealand.