Kirsten Lyttle @ Red Gallery. com


Kirsten Lyttle can take your on a tour of her Maori culture for a different view of native New Zealand - a whimsical, graphical tour in the case of the photo above - a paradoxical form given the trained philosopher's mind animating the work behind the scenes

I had a wonderful chat with her mother here in Anaheim this morning and learned that Kirsten is disabled from a car accident that turned her interest to photography and art. I am looking forward to when she has a show in San Francisco!

See Kirsten Lyttle's show at Red

by Kirsten Lyttle

Savages is a whimsical yet thought-provoking series of digital prints that challenges the viewer’s preconceptions about race and identity. Based on 19th Century lithographs of Maori by Western ethnographers, Kirsten Lyttle has constructed highly artificial dioramas where the “noble savage” Maori have been disconcertingly replaced by Chico jelly babies with the smiling black faces associated with golliwogs and “black mammy” dolls.

The work reflects a playful tension between philosophical discourse on racial stereotypes, and personal experience as a woman of both Maori and Anglo-Celtic heritage, raised by an adopted white family – growing up in New Zealand and then Australia, she remembers being called “Chico” in Australian school playgrounds.

In stark contrast with the low-tech construction and engaging appeal of the Chico narrative, the work has been meticulously researched to ensure no Tapu or scared images of Maori were used in the series; the work is not a comment on the Maori themselves, but a statement about the ethnographers who misappropriated Maori and Tapu imagery and projected their own assumptions on to the otherness they perceived.

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