My first introduction to Bill Culbert’s work at the Biennale was deeply moving. It was the official blessing, led by Creative New Zealand’s Manager, Māori Arts Funding, Haniko Te Kurapa. As we walked through the exhibition, his prayers reverberated around the space, almost seeping into the works and the surrounding walls, forming invisible bonds between them, and settling the works into their new home.
The blessing brought into sharp focus the importance of the site and the connections that Culbert’s art works make to its spaces. New Zealand is in the fortunate position of having a different location each Biennale, unlike countries that have to contest with the same idiosyncratic architecture associated with the permanent national pavilions.
Bill carefully selected the venue, saying: “It was perfect… I wouldn’t want to make any changes to the building. No white walls, no alterations. I’m keeping the space as it is and letting the work make what it can.” By respecting the unique characteristics of the site from the outset, Bill has created works that build dialogues with their surroundings.