Brett Graham
Campaign Rooms

27 November - 20 December 2008

Campaign Rooms is Brett Graham’s first solo exhibition at Two Rooms and body of new work since Aniwaniwa, which was exhibited in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.

Graham is known for his work which explores complex historical, political and cultural ideas, transforming them into compelling artistic statements. Campaign Rooms continues his eloquent examination of cultural inequities and Orientalist notions of the “Other”. The link between the Muslim “Other” and terrorism was extended to Maori during the 2007 Ruatoki terror raids. Through an exploration of Maori as terrorist Campaign Rooms alludes to post colonial anxieties of Maori dissent in Aotearoa.

“In the popular media Maori are commonly linked to insurgents in the Middle East, as has recently been seen by the hysteria surrounding the Ruatoki raids. This perpetuates a generic association of the “Other” with violence and mistrust. Campaign Rooms explores this notion of “mistaken identity”, which has existed since Europeans first entered the Pacific.” 1

When the Spanish “discovered” the New World they brought with them a style or “war of terror”, appropriated from their recently banished Moorish conquerors2. This “war of terror” was continued and executed on various Oceanic peoples as the lust for resources, religious conversion and power grew globally. In contemporary times an association between Islam and fundamentalism has been created and perpetuated by the West3. As a result the “war on terror” has come full circle where dissidents and the disinherited are now accused of Islamic fundamentalist mimicry.

Campaign Rooms creates a make-believe headquarters where weapons of mass destruction are fashioned. Arabic, Maori and Pasifika symbols and patterns are merged together to create a generic blueprint of terror. Sculpture, drawing and video combine to reveal a fear of the “Other” packed in to a terrorist hub which exposes an irresponsible simplification of Maori and various “Others”.

Brett Graham invites you into his Campaign Room to explore these generalisations. Is terror really in our midst?

NZ Herald Review by Adam Gifford