Mizuho Nishioka (left) and her work in Mahara iti with Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly.

Securing the work of an artist invited to exhibit at this year’s Venice Biennale is the best possible way for Waikanae’s Mahara Gallery to launch its temporary gallery space, MAHARA iti, says Gallery Director Janet Bayly.

Kāpiti-based artist Mizuho Nishioka is exhibiting recent work in the new gallery space, opened to maintain a district gallery presence in Kāpiti while the main gallery building is redeveloped.

Later this year she will be exhibiting at the European Culture Centre as part of the Venice Biennale – not as New Zealand’s representative but at the invitation of the European Culture Commission. 

Mizuho was born in Japan. Her exhibition of recent work will be on display at MAHARA iti until late April.

Her work focuses on the production of photographic images and how, by amendment, alteration or disruption of the photographic process can explore new territory.

“My work is based in photography, but it strives to change the way I engage with the recording process,” she says.

“I have discarded my camera; I have dropped it in the sea, dragged it along the ground, let the weather, moisture and environment make its own image.”

Mizuho Nishioka says it is an artist’s dream to exhibit at the Venice Biennale. She knows that her Japanese birth is an obstacle because typically selected artists represent the country of their birth.

“But the European Culture Commission invited me to participate as an individual. Then the question of identity arises.

“When Janet Bayly described me as a Kāpiti artist for this exhibition, I was overwhelmed. 

“Finally, I feel like I have gained identity. To me. Identity is, no matter how hard I search for it, not something I can find or take or make – it is something that is given to me.”

The redevelopment of the Mahara Gallery building began in November of last year after many years of planning and fund-raising. The Gallery is scheduled to re-open early in 2023.

New Zealand’s representative at the Venice Biennale is Yuki Kihara – the first artist of Pacific descent to represent the country. —Eds