Cast in the form of a memorial that marks the public landscape, artist Kauri Hawkins creates an uneasy monument for our times. Everybody WiNZ renders the architecture of the pokie machine in polished stone, devoid of flashing lights and vivid colour, the machine appears indolent and lifeless.
Hawkins is well known for repurposing the visual language of the urban environment. In his recent series ROAD WORKS, the hi-vis road sign is reimagined as a Māori navigation tool, for Everybody WiNZ Hawkins pairs everyday objects with the machine form. Intermingling references that impact his own whānau and whenua.
The pokie machine is a deeply charged and contentious object, a symbol of both recreation and deprivation. Commissioned for Objectspace, Hawkins draws connections between the inequitable impact of its use. Widely known as a contributor to problem gambling, particularly in low socio-economic areas. A portion of its proceeds are legislated to be returned to communities through charitable funding.
As an independent artist, Hawkins’ depends on contestable funding intrinsically tied to gambling. Creative New Zealand, the national arts development agency receives the majority of its funding from the Lotteries Commission, the income of which is derived from Lotto and Instant Kiwi. Funding is available through CNZ for artists, community groups and arts organisations, and Objectspace receives core funding in this way.
By drawing the pokie machine out from the backroom of the pub and into the Objectspace courtyard, Hawkins has crafted a potent signifier at the entrance to the gallery. Illustrating the flawed cycle of resources flowing from lower socio-economic areas to gambling, and back via grants to community and cultural organisations.
Kauri Hawkins (Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Pāhauwera) recently graduated from Massey University’s School of Fine Arts in Wellington. His practice uses sculpture, photography, filmmaking and performance to comment on contemporary New Zealand issues through a Māori lens. He is from Muriwai, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa and also descends from Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.
This artist opportunity was funded through the support of the Boosted campaign Pledge to the Plinth.