Capt. Cook – A Fake History
1 – 20 August 2017
In this, his latest series of works, George Baloghy provides a quiet commentary on the history and the myth that was Captain James Cook (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779).
Discussing the theme of the exhibition, Baloghy states:
Capt. Cook as a man looms large over New Zealand history. His voyages are epic and heroic. He was a superstar in his lifetime, and his untimely death has some of the feel of a Rock Star flameout. Although tragic, it was as a perfectly scripted story of a near-perfect life. He introduced the South Pacific to the rest of the world, and in the process created the myth of a faraway exotic place that still pervades european consciousness.
Of course he did not discover New Zealand. Not even close. The polynesian people did 1000 years ago. Then Abel Tasman, almost 150 years before Cook’s first voyage. But Cook, if nothing else, was a great publicist, marketing and branding “The Cook” name in ways that only Royalty had been able to do up to that time. Thus the mythmaking of Cook began in 1769.
Part of the mythmaking began with Cook’s own artists, who depicted the reality of what they saw in outrageously exaggerated ways, knowing full well that nobody was going to fact-check on them. They could, and did, depict their own fantastical narratives … picture the shock and titillation of face carving … it was a sensation!
Capt. Cook claimed New Zealand for the British Crown, without even considering that the local indigenous people might have different views on that. Nowadays with 21st Century sensibilities these colonising attitudes might seem outrageous, yet throughout these intervening years truth and fiction have parried for ascendency’.
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