Solo – The Order of Things

[{"cap":"Arthropoda, Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira, 2013","src":"","lnk":""},{"cap":"Astronesthes boulengeri, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa #1, 2016 ","src":"","lnk":""},{"cap":"Ostracoberyx dorygenys, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa #1, 2016","src":"","lnk":""},{"cap":"Himantolophus stewarti, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa #1, 2016","src":"","lnk":""},{"cap":"Hoplichthys cf. haswelli, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa #1, 2016 ","src":"","lnk":""},{"cap":"Coelorinchus horribilis, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa #1, 2016 ","src":"","lnk":""}]
Solo – The Order of Things
Neil Pardington
18 Nov 2016
02 Apr 2017
The Dowse, Laings Road, Lower Hutt
The Order of Things documents scientific specimens that are held in public museum collections: Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira; Otago Museum, Dunedin; and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The series takes its name from a book Michel Foucault wrote in 1966 to analyse the archaeology of human sciences, knowledge and meaning. Taxonomy–the science of naming, classifying and describing organisms–gives structure to The Order of Things, with each genus presented in a grid formation as a typology. Neil Pardington (Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Kati Waewae, and Pakeha) has previously produced works that show behind the scenes of cultural institutions. With The Order of Things he highlights the values that underpin museum practices of taxonomy and collecting. By revealing the classification methods commonly used, Pardington shows the culturally constructed nature of this ordering and introduces the possibility for a Mātauranga Māori approach. Traditional Māori knowledge systems describe the whakapapa (genealogy) and interconnectedness of everything visible or invisible that exists across the universe, in relation to concepts surrounding the creation of knowledge, comprehension and understanding. The results of a taxonomy based on this view would be slightly different to those structured by the principles that New Zealand museums have used since British colonisation. Pardington’s images of these specimens are cinematic and while they are documentary records, the photographs also imply and support narrative readings. Tuatara, for example, are often associated with death and darkness in terms of Mātauranga Māori, since reptiles were seen as descendants of Punga, a son of the ocean deity Tangaroa, and were therefore connected to sharks. The photographs here enable multiple readings, European patterns of categorisation are disrupted and other arrangements proposed, allowing us to reflect on how knowledge is not fixed or finite and we can bring different perspectives to the process of ordering things.
By Neil Pardington