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Essays

NEGOTIATING ‘TRADITION’

The Art of Lily Laita and Ani O’Neill

Karen Stevenson


ANI O'NEILL, Tangaroa, corduroy, shell, 45 x 30 cm.

Within the rhetoric of the contemporary Pacific the concept of tradition has become quite politicised. As Linnekin states, 'it is a subject of public debate'.1 It is a vague term rooted in an idealised past yet manipulated in the present. It is jargon. We don't question its meaning, we're supposed to understand. Therefore, when contemporary Pacific artists 'draw upon their traditions' we know exactly what that means. Or do we? Tradition…

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