Venice Biennale and Lisa Reihana learning resource
Explore the creative and dynamic ways in which you can bring the Biennale and Lisa Reihana: Emissaries to life for your students.
Download our five learning pathways to use in your classroom. These resources are made to be used alongside the videos, images, and time-line on the website.
- Learning areas and strands Visual Arts, Art History, Social Studies
- Education type Education resource
- Suitable for Years 9-13
Download learning pathways
Explore Venice as a city and consider the history and importance of the International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
New Zealand’s past participation in the Biennale is explored and students can develop personal responses to art.
Students may also consider the logistical elements of installation and exhibiting in Venice, why Lisa Reihana was selected to represent New Zealand at the Biennale, and how her work might be understood in Europe.
Explore representation and difference, who we are, and what others see when they see us.
Lisa Reihana has portrayed multiple cultures, narratives, and histories throughout her career and is interested in the ways in which clothing can affect perception. Students use Reihana’s work to inform a personal response.
Examine some of the motivations behind European exploration in the Pacific and investigate the story of the original art work from which Lisa Reihana draws. Students also have the opportunity to delve into the fascinating connections between Te Papa’s taonga and Lisa Reihana: Emissaries (2017).
When Lisa Reihana saw Joseph Dufour’s wallpaper and ‘couldn’t see the Pacific anywhere’, she set out to create in Pursuit of Venus [infected] (2015–2017) to redress the balance.
In this section, students use a critical lens to focus on artists who produce work that challenges an accepted story. Students then produce their own visual art that responds to their own personal world.
Examine technologies in art-making practice.
Joseph Dufour’s wallpaper was made using woodblock prints, stencils, and hand colouring to create a panoramic experience. Similarly, Lisa Reihana’s work creates a panoramic, immersive experience – but uses completely different technologies.
Students will examine the impact of scale in static and moving images as well as begin to understand some of the very real challenges and opportunities of creating art using time-based media.
The five learning pathways explore three interrelated and overarching themes.
1. New Zealand Art on a Global Stage
This theme highlights the significance of La Biennale di Venezia and a contemporary artist’s participation within it. Students examine artist selection, past artist contributions, and Venice itself.
Students will consider the logistical elements of installation and exhibiting in Venice, why Lisa Reihana was selected, and how her work might ‘read’ in Europe.
2. Representation and Difference
Who we are and who others see when they see us
This theme focuses students on the subjective nature of representation – how values, attitudes, and beliefs impact on how identity is communicated to others.
There is a specific focus in this theme on the motivations and purpose of Lisa Reihana’s work as a reaction to Joseph Dufour’s wallpaper. Students use comparison and contrast to explore the way Reihana has portrayed multiple cultures, narratives, histories, and peoples.
Students will also look at other examples of contemporary artists responding to, redressing, and retelling history – especially Māori, Pacific and women artists.
3. Time and Change
How things were and how things are
This theme requires students to examine time, continuity and change – not only through the differences in artist motivation, but also in the differences in art-making practice.
Dufour’s wallpaper used techniques on paint and paper to create a panoramic experience. Similarly, Reihana’s work creates a panoramic, immersive experience – but through completely different technologies.
Students will examine the impact of static vs. moving image as well as begin to understand some of the very real challenges and opportunities of creating art using time-based media.
Students will look at the collaborative art-making process and seek similarities and differences in the artists’ motivations.
The pathways are linked to Art History, Visual Arts, and Social Sciences. That said, we’ve purposefully left achievement objectives within specific learning areas open-ended so that you are free to adapt these learning pathways to suit your context and your students.
Each pathway focuses students on critically engaging with Lisa Reihana’s artwork and creating student response. As Lisa Reihana: Emissaries speaks of the importance of claiming identity, there is an emphasis in the activities on capturing authentic student experience and voice.
Prepare for using these inquiry-based learning pathways by reviewing the suggested activities and the discussion starters. Within each pathway, there are links for the extra-curious, should you want to delve further into any one area.