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Cath Cocker – Enlightenment and other catastrophes

5 Aug 2021 to 25 Aug 2021
5 - 25 August 2021
Cath Cocker’s works are suggestive of the bible’s role as a tool in the so-called “civilising missions” of the 19th century.
Event type: 
Depot Artspace
28 Clarence St, Devonport


Cath Cocker – Enlightenment and other catastrophes

Exhibition Dates: 5 – 25 August 2021
Opening: Saturday 9 August 2-4pm
Artist on Site: Sundays 8, 15 & 22 August 11am-3pm
Street Front Space


“Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also…since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself…unshakeably certain of being in the right.” – George Orwell, ‘Essays on Nationalism’


‘Sweet Dreams in the Missionary Position’ is an installation beginning with nine wasp nests sculpted from bible pages, some dating back to the 19th century. Over the period of time the nests are to be exhibited the numbers will grow, gradually colonising the space with hives.


The type of wasp Cocker references is the more common European (English) paper wasp, found in Aotearoa, Australia and other colonies. Paper wasps are parasitic by nature, paralysing their prey and then laying eggs into the inert host. The host will often die when the larvae emerges as an adult. This installation will work in tandem with ‘Transition’, a scale model of Noah’s arc, and a multimedia sculpture, ‘Enlightenment and other catastrophes’.


Cath Cocker’s works are suggestive of the bible’s role as a tool in the so-called “civilising missions” of the 19th century. Through allegory, Cocker argues that Enlightenment ideals, nationalism, and Christian doctrine jointly acted as justification for the colonisation of the Pacific Islands and parts of the British Isles.


About the Artist:

Cath Cocker is a conceptual artist of Tongan / Scottish descent who has recently moved to Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland from Ōtepoti / Dunedin. Her work is conceptual and often site-specific, exploring multiple mediums including sound and light. 

Cocker’s most recent work is a 22m x 3.5m mural in South Dunedin called “we are a sea of islands” a quote from Tongan and Fijian philosopher and writer Epeli Hau’ofa. The intention was to add a splash of colour to the Dunedin streets as a way in which to locate our position in the Pacific Islands.