The still images in Extrait d’Image are moments in time chosen by Lisa Reihana from her acclaimed video work In Pursuit of Venus [infected], which was reimagined for Emissaries, New Zealand’s pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. The Royal Academy of Arts listed the work as one of “ten highlights of this year’s contemporary art spectacular ” (1) and the Times UK declared “The best artwork at the Biennale? That will be Lisa Reihana’s In Pursuit of Venus” (2).
Reihana confronts colonial narratives with a critical eye and re-presents the histories of European expansion into the Pacific. Interweaving fact and fiction, Reihana considers how knowledge acquires veracity based on a hegemonic epistemological foundation: she asks not only whose truth has been accorded prominence but why this has been the case.
Taken from the 64-minute digital artwork, Extrait d’Image references Reihana’s original inspiration for the project, the nineteenth century French wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, illustrated by Jean-Gabriel Charvet. The wallpaper presented a mythologised Pacific; it was “ part instructive, part entertainment, and utterly reflective of its time: the ideological aspirations of Enlightenment thought and the Age of Reason” (3).
On May 10th Lisa Reihana’s Emissaries opened at the Venice Biennale to popular and critical acclaim. Since its inception in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia has been recognised as one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world.