The Big O.E., by Michael Parekowhai

The Big O.E. by Michael Parekowhai 

Exhibition now closed
22 April 2005 – 22 April 2008
Free entry

Here, Michael Parekowhai has installed a 1962 Kombi van in the middle of a synthetic pine plantation. Why has he done this on Te Papa’s roof? The answer lies in a combination of aspects of contemporary life: advertising and transportation – and their fluctuating effects on identity. These areas have interested Parekowhai for the last 15 years.

The Big O.E. is inspired by the original advertisements for the Kombi (combination work van). This van was built according to a specifically European idea of man, family, work, and play. Parekowhai invites us to consider the effects – especially on notions of identity – of bringing this foreign vehicle into the New Zealand cultural context. He explores how a tree that is indigenous and ‘wild’ in one country translates to a very different environment.

With The Big O.E., Parekowhai has created a synthetic place where one might feel strangely reminded of nature proper. The work is an advertisement of unsettling relationships - a car and a forest that don’t quite seem indigenous to their surroundings.