UNITY - European Cultural Centre

Venice Art Biennale — 2022

Presented by European Cultural Centre in conjunction with the 59th Venice Biennale, UNITY comprises two site-specific sculptures in historic locations on the Venetian waterfront - the precious miniature Harmony at Palazzo Bembo fronting the Grand Canal, and the virtual monument Native Tongue XR in Giardini della Marinaressa facing the lagoon on the main promenade. Both personal and universal, these structures speak through their symbolic first-forms, evoking ancestral spirits and alternative states of being, while rare and ancient materials from Aotearoa New Zealand are reimagined in futuristic forms.

In Harmony, three figures carved from pounamu, 24ct. river gold and Tākaka marble pierce a black velvet square. Framed by gilded laurel leaves, and sized to fit the human head, Harmony bestows on each viewer a laurel crown – a Classical symbol of victory and peace. In Native Tongue XR, the digital twin of an ancient kauri sculpture carved from heartwood of a tree buried since the end of the Last Ice Age, emerges via the metaverse. Created by each viewer through a personal mobile device, the 3mH alter ego is a monument in every pocket, experienced in 3D in real time and place. Calling across the waters of Venezia, these collective pronouns project otherworldly Island-forms (I.), bridging epochs, continents and conditions in the fragile floating city and biosphere.