Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used the words ‘Team of Five Million’ to galvanise the nation during our Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
Russ Flatt’s exhibition of the same name asks a different question. Do Aotearoa’s political realities and social constructs, in fact, work to divide us?
Flatt’s series of five new photographs operate as an exploration of contemporary politics as well as a call to arms, just as were the banners he designed for Destination Aroha – curated by Ngahiraka Mason at Te Tuhi, Pakuranga and the NZ Maritime Museum in February this year.
As Mason asserted in her Destination Aroha text: “Flatt champions aroha as Aotearoa’s greatest cultural possession. We are more than the sum of our race, sexuality, gender and heritage. Love is vital and helps us through controversies, changed realities and times of uncertainty like the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In Team of Five Million Flatt asks: If an entire nation can stay at home for six weeks, can we not also constructively address house-lessness, children in need, and the insidious racism that impacts many of our most vulnerable citizens?
Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati; ki te kāpuia e kore e whati.
If a reed stands alone it can be broken; bound together a group of reeds is unbreakable.