REASONING ON PAPER: THE MYTH OF HERSELF
March 8- 31, 2017
Pelenakeke Brown is an interdisciplinary artist and ORA Gallery is pleased to present her first solo show ‘Reasoning on Paper: The Myth of Herself.’ The intimate exhibit presents a selection of drawings from Pelenakeke’s documentation of growing out her hair. Every day she drew a faceless self-portrait, focussing simply on the lines of her hair. What started as a daily project grew into a much larger body of work as Pelenakeke began to understand the intricacies and politics around hair and identity.
Pelenakeke describes her work as “our hair holds personal narratives, so I began to document my own. They are self-portraits, but are universal due to their facelessness. The way we wear our hair says something about ourselves to the world. How we see ourselves, want others to see us and how they then read us. These drawings could be you or a version of yourself that you know.” Pelenakeke is uncovering the masks that we wear through the personal narrative of our hair.
The title of her show stems from artist Saul Steinbergs’ definition of drawing as ‘reasoning on paper.’ Pelenakeke too found that through her drawings she was reasoning a version of herself, and unfolding the many versions of herself that others saw. With short hair she was viewed one way, seen as more sexy, bold and brave in contrast with her long hair, she (and her femininity) are read as more compliant, safe and socially acceptable.
Hair holds many personal narratives, people change their hair to signify a change in time. Hair can also hold cultural signifiers. During the exhibit, Pelenakeke would like to invite members of the public to participate in this conversation by sitting for a twenty minute hair portrait, while telling a story about their hair. These drawings and audio will be part of her next exhibit.
Pelenakeke Brown is a New York based artist originally from New Zealand. She is half Samoan and all her work explores the Samoan concept of the ‘Va’ (Space) irrelevant of form. As a disabled afakasi (half-caste) Samoan woman she straddles many in-between spaces.
Pelenakeke has exhibited her work in New York and San Francisco. She is a current artist with the New York Foundation for the Arts, Immigrant Artist Program for 2016/17. Recently she completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and her work has been published in the James Franco Review and Apogee Journal.
Pelenakeke holds a BA from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and attended the National Academy School of Fine Arts, in New York City.