Tantalizing and psychedelic moving image, delicious large-scale prints and re-invigorated, bewitching, garments… For his first Visual Arts exhibition, Mika did not spare an inch of imperfection and left the gallery in a state of complete, magical awe.
Entering the gorgeous Pah Homestead, home to many contemporary New Zealand artworks, the front hall was laced with heeled creatures, wine glasses and an anticipating energy. Within 2 minutes of arriving, a bellowing voice from behind frazzled the audience. This performer grinded, dropped it reeeal low and spun some emotional, and at some points abrasive, rap verses. Rhythmically and poetically talented, this gorgeous man also wore the best hoop earrings I’ve ever seen, and totally looked like something straight outta Beyonce’s new song ‘Sorry’.
The additional performance element to Mika Interactive plays central to the Mika Haka Foundation’s philosophy - to ignite young minds and transform bodies towards better lives through performing arts and physical culture. The Foundation also represents young people from diverse backgrounds and celebrates gender, sexuality, culture and religion, and especially encourages people that occupy a minority culture. A later performance showcased dancers interacting with each other wearing strap-ons and other sex toys, sporting a lack of clothing and wearing fabric over their chest as a sexual statement, or maybe merely as an attractive costume embellishment. The beauty of these performances were that they were ambiguous, hybrid and totally raw in delivery. It was an impressive contrast to see something so ephemeral and impulsive against powerful moving image sequences that were so considered. Works such as Taniwha, played with the same themes, except in these works, Mika as himself played more of a role.
Being of Maori heritage, Mika plays with the amalgamation of culture and contemporary, urban and popular, and also works with gender roles and what it means to be native. Introducing striking formal qualities that explore bright colours and modern techniques and pairing these with traditional and culturally functional content, triggers viewers to ask themselves where they sit. Who or what do they identify as... What is their role in Aotearoa, New Zealand?
Mika’s interdisciplinary practice comes alive at the Pah Homestead in this exhibition. As part of the Festival of Photography, Mika Interactive provides a sophisticated discourse around sexuality and art, and plays with extremely important issues present today in Aotearoa. Artwork that doesn’t fit into any box, but celebrates all of them, visit this glorious gallery before the 26th of June. You will be thoroughly charmed indeed.