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Akiko Diegel: i wish my wish

July 11 - September 10

Akiko Diegel, selected tags from i wish my wish (2012)

Little Gallery

Akiko Diegel, born in Japan, lived in Auckland for several decades and now resides in Sweden. She graduated with an MFA in 2008 from the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. Between 2005 and 2012 Diegel was selected to exhibit in a number of group and solo exhibitions in Auckland and New Zealand. She was awarded The Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award in 2011 for her work Cure at the 20th Annual Wallace Art Awards. The Paramount Award winner receives a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York. The installation i wish my wish was developed by Diegel during her stay at the ISCP in 2012. It is an ongoing project formed at different localities with each iteration adapted to reflect particular audiences.

“Every country has its own set of historic and cultural festivals. Each is designed to highlight an important aspect of life or society. Matariki is the Māori name for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades star cluster, or The Seven Sisters, and is also referred to as the traditional Māori New Year. Matariki has two meanings, both referring to a tiny constellation of stars: Mata Riki (Tiny Eyes) and Mata Ariki (Eyes of God). Traditionally, depending on the visibility of Matariki, the coming season’s crop was thought to be determined. The brighter the stars, the warmer the season would be and thus a more productive crop. It was also seen as an important time for family to gather and reflect on the past and the future. Today Matariki means celebrating the unique place in which we live and giving respect to the land we live on.

Tanabata, also known as the “star festival”, in Japan, takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet. One popular Tanabata custom is to write one’s wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.

Though from entirely different cultures, Matariki and Tanabata, in fact, celebrate very similar concepts and are, in a way, quite complimentary to each other. This project celebrates my exposure to these festivals, Matariki and Tanabata, which are now both part of my culture. The installation forms part of an interactive activity in which people who visit the venue can directly interact and appreciate aspects of Māori and Japanese culture. Though only a tiny glimpse of the spectrum of these cultures, creating an awareness of the richness of other cultures expands our world viewpoints and connectedness with the world that surrounds us.

This is an on-going art project, which began in 2012, starting in New York as a part of the Grand street festival, and then at the Papakura Art Gallery. Each exhibition utilizes material for the tags which refer to the historical context of the place and time, such as parachute cloth for the tags in New York and tags made of wool blanket for the exhibition in New Zealand”.

Akiko Diegel, May 2017


July 11
September 10
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