Jorge Satorre

Emic Etic?
25 October- 16 November

Curated by Claudia Arozqueta and Caterina Riva

Public programme
It is impossible to say what an individual is doing unless we have tacitly accepted the essentially arbitrary modes of interpretation that social tradition is constantly suggesting to us from the very moment of our birth. Let anyone who doubts this try the experiment of making a painstaking report of the actions of a group of natives engaged in some activity, say religious, to which he has not the cultural key. If he is a skillful writer, he may succeed in giving a picturesque account of what he sees and hears, or thinks he sees and hears, but the chances of his being able to give a relation of what happens, in terms that would be intelligible and acceptable to the natives themselves, are practically nil [1]
Drawing on this statement by Edward Sapir along with the linguistic terms phonemic and phonetic, the missionary and linguist Kenneth Pike coined the terms Emic and Etic in the 1950s, as a hermeneutic contribution to the field of anthropology. An Emic analysis approach investigates the point of view of the natives or locals in a specific context. The Etic approach incorporates the opinion of an investigator or researcher based on local versions or discourses.
Mixing divergent points of view has been a guiding principle for Jorge Satorre’s work and with his first exhibition in New Zealand he has used them as a starting point to question his own methods; to analyse the implications of trying to understand a culture from the point of view of the visitor.
While in Mexico over the course of a year, Satorre researched and developed a series of works based on the inability to think objectively about the cultural context of New Zealand without knowing it first hand. Making evident his reductionist and naïve approach, the artworks created by Satorre have two of Aotearoa's cultural topos at their core: native birds and greenstone. The four chapters of this exhibition play with notions of scale, creating a combinatorial arrangement between general and particular relationships.
Emic Etic? is a partnership between Artspace in Auckland and Enjoy Gallery in Wellington. Similar works will be presented at both organizations simultaneously, having each exhibition configured differently as determined by the gallery space. Thus creating another gesture that exalts the implications of changes of scale, as well as the importance of specific contexts in the work of Jorge Satorre.
1 Edward Sapir quoted in Marvin Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory. A History of Theories of culture, (Walnut Creek, C: AltaMira Press, 1992) 571 


In partnership with Enjoy Public Art Gallery, with the support of the Embassy of Mexico. Special thanks to El Fisgòn, Guy Body, Joe Sheehan and Tim Melville Gallery, Xippas and Labor and Museo Experimental El eco. 

This project has been generously supported by Alan & Christine Hedlund, Sonja & Glenn Hawkins, Jane & Neil Haines, Kriselle Baker & Richard Douglas, and The Chartwell Trust. 



Download the full exhibition text


Public programme

Saturday October 26, 2pm: Jorge Satorre's artist talk
Wednesday November 13, 6pm: talk by Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral VIDEO
Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral, the Postdoctoral Fellow Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation Group, at Massey Albany, will discuss his research on island birds of the South Pacific, with reference to Jorge Satorre's work in Emic Etic?

Originally from Mexico, Dr Ortiz-Catedral came to New Zealand in 2004 to study conservation methods. In 2010 he completed his PhD research on the effects of translocating New Zealand kakariki, which has seen the return of these endangered birds to two Hauraki Gulf islands as well as Auckland's mainland. Following this, he worked as Coordinator of the Ecological Restoration Group at the Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos Islands, on a project to save the critically endangered Floreana Mockingbird (known as Darwin’s muse). Recently, he was part of the team who undertook DNA sequencing of three bird species, to identify a new a new endemic songbird family.

Visit the Education page to download further resources on this show.