In his opening remarks at the 5th Auckland Triennial, Ngati Whātua artist Bernard Makoare noted that there are two kinds of people – those who are from a place and those who have cause to visit a place. Like many Pacific formulations, or what are known in Māori as whakatauki or proverbs, it has a simple truth that brings about a whole host of complex questions that cannot be managed in the abstract: How is the ‘being from’ registered in the present? What kinds of behaviour does it imply for ‘being from’ the place the future? How is the ‘being from’ understood among the ‘those’ who are also from that place, how would this understanding be articulated? And, not least, how should those who are from a place relate to those who are not from that place?

For those who are foreigners in a foreign land, the questions are no less daunting. What would be a ‘cause’ that one would have for being where one was not from? How long can or does a visit last, when does it become an occupation? What kinds of relation does one have to those who are from a place while we visit it? If we are always not just being but becoming, can we ‘become from’ as well as ‘be from’ a place? The work of Aotearoa New Zealand–based artistic collective Local Time locates itself in this terrain.

Local Time is a collective comprising Alex MonteithJonathan BywaterNatalie Robertson, and Danny Butt (author of this text [1]), who have been working together since 2007, with a specific interest in issues of local knowledge. A request by Taranaki leader Te Miringa Hohaia to bring a contemporary art component to the second Parihaka International Peace Festival gave Local Time a name and a form in 2007. Parihaka is a community with a complex weaving of histories of intercultural exchange, destruction, and renewal. Much of our group’s process emerged as a way of maintaining attention on all the layers and forces that shifted around our engagement, which required us to put aside our disciplinary roles as contemporary artists (Robertson, Monteith) and writers (Butt, Bywater). Further, our collective work often confronts us with the ways that production and reception of practices are gendered, and over time we have come to appreciate more the ability of our collective process to evade expectations and the constraints of patriarchal subjectivation. As Te Miringa himself taught us, culture and protocol is always live and on the move: both political activism and community-engaged artistic production require skill in navigating turbulent conditions and reading the winds of change and the shifting swells they generate, sometimes moving with them and sometimes taking a sharp tack to drive against them or through them.

Five years after Te Miringa’s passing, Local Time’s work continues to take inspiration from his traversal of disciplinary and cultural domains in activism, scholarship, and art. As a collective whose members are all also teachers, an important lesson he taught us was that despite the rhetoric of educational institutions, seeking knowledge can be disruptive, and not always welcomed in social and professional life. Many of the professional protocols we are forced to adopt – whether in the seminars and conferences of the academy, or the conventions of display in the gallery – place explicit and implicit demands on what kind of inquiry can be undertaken and how it can be presented. In the legacies of colonisation, these structures police boundaries between communities, inhibiting the productive exchange of autonomous practices across different archives and methodologies, particularly between settler and indigenous worlds. Many of these institutional forms are of no intellectual or aesthetic interest but exist and are reproduced through conventions founded and maintained by bad politics. Through selective and deliberate inattention to some professional institutional norms, Local Time’s projects attempt to reconfigure their lineaments, allowing temporary spaces where dialogues within and across communities of practice can emerge.

The aims of this exposition are twofold: first, to understand Local Time’s projects through a theorisation of hospitality, which entails the identification of concepts at work in the projects, and analysis of their relation to one another. Second, it aims to highlight Local Time’s projects as an invitation toward rethinking or to return to thinking hospitality, thus establishing a dialogue with a broader field of inquiry, as well as pointing toward a methodological approach that implicitly holds in abeyance some of the more instrumental approaches to artistic research.

Next: II. Hospitality

[1] For Local Time the status of alphabetic writing is, as for many artists and collectives, an unstable one. Local Time do author collective texts, in a consensual process that is exacting and often seemingly at odds with the energies that animate many of our projects. In this case, the text is not authored by Local Time but by Danny Butt and Local Time. The joint authorship perhaps reflects a more scientific approach to documentation, where the authorship of Local Time takes place in the ‘laboratory’ of our projects, with Butt’s writing up being a distinctly secondary operation. It should thus be kept in mind throughout that the analysis of Local Time’s projects presented here, while developed in consultation with the collective, is not an authoritative account, and represents but one way that these projects could be recounted for a wider audience. As a text, it perhaps hovers between a piece of criticism and a report in a more social-scientific mode. A stronger polemic on the implications of exegetical writing in artistic research is published in Danny Butt, ‘The Art of The Exegesis’, Mute Magazine, 10 April 2012 <> [accessed 14 April 2016].

Colonial hospitality: rethinking curatorial and artistic responsibility
Danny Butt and Local Time