Each year Artspace's programme orbits around one question in the company of artists and other practitioners. In 2023 we ask “where does my body belong?” We continue this exploration with new work by Chevron Hassett.
Consider the original use of the building in which Artspace Aotearoa is located. Purpose built as a post office and opened to the public in June 1973, it subsequently processed mail for the inhabitants of Tāmaki Makaurau for decades. Each day messages that contained life’s complexity passed through the doors via the letters sent between family members, friends, businesses, government agencies. Close your eyes. What letter would you write to yourself? What letter would you wish to receive? Taken as an expanded form of the epistolary, Hassett’s practice emerges as a process of correspondence between a past and a future self.
The correspondence between two particular experiences becomes concrete in the gallery space on Karangahape Road through the production of a new sculptural work positioned at its centre. One: the recognisable routine of hanging the washing out in the garden. Where is your garden? What does it smell like? What can you hear? Two: a walk through the city, any city, encountering multiple monuments that represent the same value system over and over again.
Hassett gathers these contrasting encounters from daily life together and etches into them. In doing so, he conjures an autobiography that emerges specifically from an experience of urban Indigeneity. Here, the sense of a letter sent somewhere weaves lines through time and connection, through Maui, Rauponga Whakarare, and Rauponga Haehae* to evolve a project of cultivation.
*These patterns appear in the exhibition. These same patterns appear frequently in carving from Ngati Porou, particularly in relation to genealogy.