MEANWHILE are thrilled to present
The Beaglehole's Problem
a solo exhibition by Cindy Huang, curated by Melina Payne
New Zealand’s written history is dominated by Pākehā voices who have told the stories of others from their perspective, imposing their lens, which often skews in favour of a positive colonial narrative. This orthodox manner in which history is written follows the idea of a singular and homogenous history, perceived as impenetrable, permanent, and unquestionable -- leading to a severe lack of written knowledge around Chinese history in Aotearoa, and more specifically Māori-Chinese history.
“The Beaglehole’s Problem” bases its name on Earnest and Pearl Beaglehole; a couple who, in 1946, wrote the book Some Modern Maoris. Commissioned and published by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Some Modern Maoris served as an in-depth study of the Māori community (fictitiously named “Kowhai”), in Otaki, Wellington, which was well-known for its Chinese market gardens and significant Māori-Chinese interactions. Nigel Murphy (2009) writes (on Some Modern Maoris): “Chinese-Māori relationships were a continuing cause of concern in both the Māori and Pākehā communities, and the study focuses on this theme at some length...Māori-Chinese relations are perceived by the Beagleholes as a ‘problem’.” (pp. 342-343)
Cindy Huang’s “The Beaglehole’s Problem” serves as a means of reflection on the ways in which Pākehā academia, politics and media greatly influenced, and continues to influence, dominant and divisive narratives. At the core of her practice, Cindy hopes to encourage the building of alliances between minority groups in colonised spaces. Drawing from her experience as a Tauiwi person in Aotearoa, Cindy replicates the aesthetic of a market garden by creating intricate landscapes of ceramic vegetables, as it was within these sites where many Chinese and Māori relationships were fostered and established.
“The Beaglehole’s Problem” serves as an extension of Cindy’s body of work, “A Footnote on New Zealand History”, presented at Elam Artists Grad Show in 2019, and is curated by Melina Payne.
About the artist:
Cindy Huang is an artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Having previously completed her Honours in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts in 2019, Cindy is currently studying an BA in Art History and Media, where she will graduate from both in 2021. Recent exhibitions include Counter-Site: Onsite, Project space (2018), All Eyes, George Fraser Gallery (2018), and A Footnote on New Zealand History, Elam Artists Grad Show (2019). She also ran a ceramic painting workshop and took part in a discussion on Chinese Maori History and colonization as a part of Gus Fisher Gallery’s Huìyì – Hui in 2019.