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in Pursuit of Venus [infected]

By Lisa Reihana

Look Closer

in Pursuit of Venus [infected]

By Lisa Reihana

Look Closer

in Pursuit of Venus [infected]

By Lisa Reihana


Opening June 13, 2024, 5 pm

Experience the Western Canada premiere of Māori artist Lisa Reihana’s panoramic video and sound work, in Pursuit of Venus [infected].

This monumental installation brings to life Māori and Pacific Indigenous people’s relationships with their cultural knowledge while exploring issues of identity, gender, and colonial violence by reimagining the Neoclassical wallpaper Les sauvages de la mer Pacifique. It was designed by French artist Jean-Gabriel Charvet and produced by French luxury wallpaper and textile company Joseph Dufour et Cie at the turn of the 19th century.

Popular among affluent Europeans and Americans at the time, the wallpaper, formed of twenty distinct panels, ostensibly depicts the different peoples that Captain James Cook, the British explorer and cartographer, encountered on his three journeys across the Pacific (1768–1779). In her work’s title, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], Reihana references Captain Cook’s naval orders to trace the Transit of Venus in the Pacific night sky and thereby find the key to global navigation.

Integrating hand-painted landscapes with live-action characters and a densely layered soundtrack, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] invites viewers to observe a series of restaged historical events, both real and imagined, of the first contact between British and Pacific peoples. Separated by two centuries, Dufour’s wallpaper models Enlightenment beliefs of harmony amidst mankind, while Reihana’s video installation is a counternarrative that includes encounters between Polynesians and Europeans which acknowledge the nuances and complexities of cultural identities and colonization. Stereotypes about other cultures and representation that developed during those times are challenged, while the gaze of imperialism, is returned with a speculative twist that disrupts notions of beauty, authenticity, history and myth.

First premiered at New Zealand’s Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in 2015, Reihana’s epic work has since toured world-wide. MOA is thrilled to bring this exhibition to Canada’s west coast for the first time.

Curatorial staff liaison: Damara Jacobs-Petersen (MOA Curator of Indigenous Engagement)


Lisa Reihana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine Ngāi Tū) was born in 1964 in Auckland, New Zealand, where she continues to live and work. Spanning film, video, photography, installation, performance, design, costume and sculptural form, Reihana’s art making is driven by a strong sense of community which informs her collaborative working method. Reihana’s work is held in private and public collections while Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki cares for the largest international holdings of the artist’s work.


Lending Partner: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Photo credits: 1 – 4) Cropped stills from in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-2017. Ultra HD video (colour, sound, 64 min.). Courtesy of Lisa Reihana, New Zealand at Venice, and Artprojects. 5) Lisa Reihana, 2022. Photo by Jacquie Manning.