Robert Jahnke Ground Zero, 2019
Corten steel plate, aluminium and glass and neon, 3420 x 3420 x 2000 mm.
Ground Zero, alternatively known as ‘surface zero’, is a parody of a term most often associated with the epicentre of intense activity or change. It is also used in relation to natural disasters and epidemics to mark the locus of destruction and damage. It is used in this instance to mark a centre of change where land that was once owned by Māori is no longer under Māori ownership.
At the centre of the Ground Zero sculpture is an illuminated round neon located within a circular drum of mirrors that create the illusion of a reflection of the circle that appears to reduce in size and to disappear into black void, much like the concentric circles of a bullseye. People are encouraged to ascend and descend the stairs of the sculpture or sit on them; walk around the neon on the cylindrical platform and even walk over the illuminated neon drum; over the epicentre or the bullseye that marks an area of land in which Māori have zero interest; the land on which the sculpture is located.
Born Waipiro Bay, East Coast. Lives and works Palmerston North
Professor Robert Jahnke (Ngāi Taharora, Te Whānau a Iritekura, Te Whānau a Rakairo o Ngāti Porou) is an artist, writer and curator working principally as a sculptor, although trained as a designer and animator. His work focuses on the dynamics of inter-cultural exchange and the politics of identity. Jahnke is the Professor of Māori Visual Arts and the architect of the Māori Visual Arts programme’s Toioho ki āpiti at Massey University. He is widely published and has works in public and private collections in New Zealand and internationally. In 2016 Jahnke was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori art and education. Represented by PAULNACHE Gallery, Gisborne.