Free Social Injunctions: Art Interventions As Agency in the Production of Socio-legal Subjectivities Not yet Imagined or Realised
Waerea, Layne Melissa
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This PhD project/exegesis considers how socio-legal performance, as a series of art interventions in public spaces, might operate to question and critique social and legal norms that govern and give licence to preferred social behaviours in the public realm. The art interventions recognise and acknowledge the hegemonic relationships of space/place over time and, notwithstanding their public compliance and production, reveal alternative socio-legal subjectivities involving a participant’s negotiation of the competing interests and rights present in the everyday. A significant aspect of this project focuses on how the Treaty of Waitangi (1840), as Aotearoa New Zealand’s only living treaty with Māori, may continue to operate as a cultural/political force that contributes to the ongoing development of the socio-cultural fabric of this country. These interventions explore the contribution that contemporary socio-legal artistic performances can make to reveal the tension, inherent in the 1840 agreement between British colonisers and Māori, as continuing to affect the foundations of law in Aotearoa New Zealand today. This practice-based research presents art performances including: text, image, installation and humour as provocation to the ideas contained within the artwork. As a research project that trespasses across socio-cultural, physical and virtual spaces, these interventions seek to challenge and question existing social and legal hierarchies, suggesting the possibilities of an agency of production with blended hegemonies and socio-cultural subjectivities not yet imagined or realised.