Who gets to define what is good and who gets to define what it might mean to be a citizen? Within a nation-building framework, Māori are forced to perform their citizenship through acts of assimilation. In this exhibition,Green specifically explores the interracial family unit and how this process has resulted in her own identity as a citizen of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Good Citizen is grounded in the religious allegory of Mary mourning over the body of her dead son, Jesus. This iconic image provides a critical entry-point with Mary’s role as a cipher, deployed as the perfect feminine image of deference, sacrifice and ultimately, unattainability.
Botanical patterning is used to echo the unending nature of whakapapa and its connection to Papatūānuku, travelling through images of Green’s grandmother, mother, and herself. These portraits of an artist and her whānau wāhine draw parallels between the self, intermarriage and ‘successful’ assimilation.
Ayesha Green (Kai Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) is an artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts from Wintec in 2009 and went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts from Elam in 2013. In 2016 she completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts specalising in Museums and Cultural Heritage. In 2020 she was a Springboard Arts FoundationRecipient and in 2019 she won the National Contemporary Art Awards. Recent exhibitions include: Toi Tū Toi Ora, Auckland Art Gallery 2020/21, Wrapped up in Clouds, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2020, Strands, The Dowse Art Museum (2019); Tuia — Southern Encounters, The Hocken Gallery (2019); Elizabeth the First, Jhana Millers. Her work is in the collection of Te Papa Tongarewa, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Dowse ArtMuseum, The Govett-Brewster, The MTG Hawkes Bay and more.