Ross T Smith’s photographic works are from his acclaimed photographic series exploring Maori identities in rural New Zealand at the turn of the century.
The representation of Maori has historically been portrayed as social outcasts or figures for cultural consumption. Ross T Smith’s photographic series Hemi Tuwharerangi Paraha positions the image of the young tattooed Maori male within this historical context that calls to question these stereotypical representations which have dominated media to this day.
The work focuses on one subject – Hemi Tuwharerangi Paraha, in the remote New Zealand rural landscape. In a complex and often challenging series of portraits, Smith depicts Hemi in states of strength and fragility, as well as with an emotional intimacy that transcends documentary portraiture and opens up for wider discussion our responses to identity and representation.
Smith is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in architecture and studied photography in Australia. He has exhibited widely both in Australia and New Zealand, returning to New Zealand to complete the Hemi Tuwharerangi Paraha series in 1998. The exhibition consists of six one metre photographs and will be shown alongside selected works from his photographic series Stillness Falls Gradually (2000), generously gifted to the Whangarei Art Museum by the artist.