Like a mirror image refracts lights and is only a reflection of what it shows, the exhibition “Spiegelbilder” (Reflections) contains three “refractions” or different perspectives on historic and contemporary Aotearoa / New Zealand. The focus is on the humourous-critical pictures and sculptures of the well-known German writer, author of childrens’ books and political illustrator/artist Helme Heine concerning his adopted country New Zealand. Many of them are mirror-symmetrical – not least the more political among them, in which Māori and Pākehā (the New Zealanders with European ancestors), with their similarities and differences, reflect not only the image but also figuratively.
The second, quite different perspective is provided by the linocuts of the Māori artist Cliff Whiting on the well-known Hatupatu and Paikea myths. In addition to Helme Heine's work, the view on New Zealand should also come from a Māori artist. It turned out to be a stroke of luck that one of Helme Heine's close neighbors was Cliff Whiting, one of the most prominent contemporary Māori artists. Cliff Whiting, who enjoyed the humour of Helme Heine's New Zealand paintings, immediately agreed to contribute some of his own works to the exhibition in Munich. Tragically, he died in 2017. The loan of six linocuts, which we owe to his son Gary Whiting, is thus also a reminder and tribute to Cliff Whiting.
The museum perspective is the third: A not inconsiderable part of the Māori collection conserved in the Museum Fünf Kontinente includes some of the oldest pieces in the museum. The aesthetics of wood carvings, greenstone jewels and weaving in the culture of the Māori are exemplified in them as well as in some of the more recent exhibits. But even more can be to be learned from them about the social and historical contexts of the Māori society. In addition, there is a connection between certain types of objects and the pictures: some of them – such as clubs – are portrayed in the works of Helme Heine, others – above all valuables – are directly related to the myths that are the subject of Cliff's Whiting’s linocuts. "Reflection" has the double meaning of a mirror image, but also of contemplation and perception: The exhibition approaches New Zealand, its culture, present and history from various perspectives without any claim to completeness.