Issue/23/
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Commentary

New Zealand

Velvet dreams

Lisa Taouma

Charles McPhee with Self-portrait, c.1985, oil on velvet, 60 x 40 cm

The West's love affair with Pacific Island women is not new. Ever since the eighteenth century, when the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville wrote about these South-Sea Venuses as visions of 'la nouvelle Cytherea', there has been a plethora of images of brown belles. Western audiences have been somewhat reluctant to relinquish their fixation with the image of Polynesia in the form of the languid, sexually accommodating brown beauty - the proverbial 'dusky maiden'…

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