Cassandra Barnett (Ngati Raukawa)

Cassandra Barnett (Ngati Raukawa)

Lecturer, Whiti o Rehua School of Art

Cassandra Barnett is a writer who seeks (and makes) immanent relations between contemporary molecular philosophies of art, postcolonial and decolonising thought, and indigenous (especially African) and Maori aesthetics. Most recently she has been exploring art participation, cultural rituals of encounter and the politics of spectatorship via a constraint-based ficto-critical writing practice.

Cassandra teaches into and coordinates the BFA critical and contextual studies programme, is involved with Maori academic development within the school, and has considerable postgraduate supervision experience. In addition to the research highlights below, Cassandra has written numerous art exhibition catalogue essays and reviewed art for Metro, Art News, Eyeline, Architecture NZ.

  • Expertise

    Contemporary art history and theory (both global and local); twentieth century avant-gardes; recent continental aesthetics (especially Deleuze and Guattari); postcolonial, decolonising and indigenous art theories; kaupapa Maori frameworks; art writing, fictocriticism and creative nonfiction; perception, spectatorship, encounter, immanence, participation.

  • Research Highlights

    What you see you don’t see: Lisa Reihana’s Digital Marae. Published in Routledge journal: World Art 1:1, March 2011. Presented at, and published in refereed conference proceedings for: Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South. SAVAH (South African Visual Arts Historians) and University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. January 2011.

    A close encounter with NZ Maori artist Lisa Reihana’s Digital Marae (2007) installation, this article begins with a detailed description and analysis of the perceptual experience offered by the exhibition, before surrendering to that experience and the ancestral voices it channels – allowing them to seize hold of and reorient the writing itself. A short version of this journal article, focusing on the multi-sensory operations provoked by Digital Marae, was presented at the SAVAH conference; a much longer exploration became the pivotal chapter of my PhD thesis.

    Save Yourself: A cinematic perception for installation art. Presented at the conference: ConnectDeleuze: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Second International Deleuze Studies Conference. University of Cologne, Germany. August 2009. Presented at the conference: Philosophy and the Work of Art. ASCP 2009 (Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy annual conference). University of Melbourne, Australia. December 2009.

    This research uses concepts from Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema books to tease apart the fluctuating, heterogeneous space (operating on multiple times, spaces, histories and scales) of Francis Upritchard’s sculptural installation Save Yourself (Venice Biennale 2009). My larger proposition being that, for human perceptual experience, installation art shares many of the ‘aberrating’ powers attributed by Deleuze to second wave cinema.

    Art Out of Step, Art Out of Time: A Simondonian Aesthetics. Presented at, and published in refereed conference proceedings for: Time, Transcendence, Performance. Monash University and RMIT Melbourne, Australia. October 2009. Presented at the conference: The Post-Human Condition. ASCP 2008 (Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy annual conference). University of Auckland, Aotearoa. December 2008.

    Focusing on the disorienting qualities of two contrasting exhibitions, Daniel Crooks’ video installation Pan No. 2 (One step forwards, one frame backwards) (2007) and Lisa Benson’s ephemeral photographic-drawing installation Fade (2008), this paper extends some key concepts (disparation, internal resonance) from Gilbert Simondon’s groundbreaking philosophy of technology into the realm of art critique. In reaching back (through Deleuze) to Simondon, I was seeking the roots of an aesthetics of perceptual disorientation (an aesthetics that Deleuze himself develops more clearly in relation to cinema than contemporary art).

    Cheonggyecheon. Published in the journal: Landfall no.216, October 2008.

    This ficto-critical essay/story, told from the point of view of a stream running through Seoul, was written in response to Fiona Amundsen’s photographic exhibition Miracle on the Han River (2008). It was one of my first attempts at an art writing that does not objectify or ‘pin down’ the art object, but rather attends to, preserves and extends the affective, immanent, molecular qualities of the aesthetic experience. Every encounter with an artwork is an opportunity to practice our ways of greeting and listening to our world; and every artwork offers its own voice(s) and protocols for those encounters.

  • Qualifications

    BA (University of Auckland)
    MA (University of Warwick)
    PhD (University of Auckland)


  • Professional Affiliations

    Nga Aho

  • Supervision

    Susanne Bauer
    The Pollinator Crisis


    Primary supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Heather Galbraith
    Co-supervisor: Prof. Anne Noble
    Co-supervisor: Dr. Cassandra Barnett