Stigma Series
Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland
5 - 23 Oct 1999

The frangapani is a clearly recognised signifier of Oceania. This fragrant, brightly coloured flower is celebratory, joyous and inherently Pacific.

My work in the Stigma Series explores what happens however when the Pacific signifier becomes the stereotype and then becomes the stigma or the distinguishing and indelible mark of culture.

The potent part of the flower in pollination is the stigma. In these flower works the stigma is the pin which pierces the centre of each flower, fixing them in place on the wall.

The pin or stigma, in this context, both flowers and deflowers. An ambivalent relationship emerges between the desire to celebrate the frangapani as a signifier of Pacific identity and the desire to call into question the universality of the culturally encoded sign.

A complex dynamic exists for the Pacific Island artist in the act of producing works which express his or her identity but at the same time are resistant to the homogenisation of cultural experience and of culturally inspired works of art.