PM's daughter raises brows with art again

Photo from Stephanie Key's Facebook page.
Photo from Stephanie Key's Facebook page.
A new series of artworks by Stephanie Key, daughter of Prime Minister John Key, has been posted online as she prepares for a major moment in her fledgling career.

But already one of the pop-art style self-portraits - Key wearing an elaborate pink, feathered, war headdress, lacy pink knickers and a pink modesty star over her nipple - has been criticised for being culturally inappropriate.

In another shot, similar to the work of artist Pierre et Gilles, she is dressed in red PVC nurse's uniform as she dances alongside tampons superimposed over women's bodies.

She has posted the pictures online as she readies to submit her portfolio at the Paris College of Art (PCA) - an American private university with four campuses in Paris.

New Zealand multimedia artist Lisa Reihana said Key, 21, was "a pretty young thing conforming to Western notions of beauty and soft porn is the norm in the fashion and music worlds. More problematic is the misuse of First Nations culture."

The war headdress of Native Americans and Canadian First Nations was used only for important occasions. Each eagle feather told a story and the wearer earned each feather in his or her headdress.

This week, promoters of the annual Rhythm and Vines music festival pulled advertising that included two young girls partying in headdress. The promoters also issued a public apology.

Desi Rodriguez Lonebear, a Native American Indian from the Northern Cheyenne tribe of Montana now based in New Zealand, said Key owed an apology to Native Americans and the tangata whenua of her own country.

"I think it's incredibly offensive and distasteful."

Hamilton-based Lonebear said it was even more shocking that the work was by the prime minister's daughter, and called for the photo to be removed from the collection.

"I see a nearly nude woman posing in a war bonnet headdress and holding a peace pipe - the most sacred of objects. It's totally mocking.

"It's very offensive that it's Prime Minister John Key's daughter. [It's] is a huge slap in the face for race relations and ultimately the cultural competency that I have been privileged to witness in New Zealand."

Other artists were more welcoming of Key's latest work. Dick Frizzell commended her for having a go but described her style as more suited to advertising.

"Not much point in asking an artist what they think, not a 70-year-old artist anyway," Frizzell said. "It's pretty average graphic art, I would've thought."

Photographer Damien Nikora said the work made him smile.

"At first thought, I wondered what the reason for the concepts were," he said. "But I'm sure there is a controversial or thoughtful reason behind them.

"I know who she is and I'd invite her to come and shoot with me."

Pop artist Billy Apple said: "It's fun. Take the pretzel one. It's like a poster. It's popular culture."

Last year another series of Key's self-portraits gained international attention after being highlighted in the Herald on Sunday.

In the photos she posed near-nude with strategically placed pieces of sushi covering her breasts and an octopus over her groin.

Her father brushed off any criticism and said he was "really proud" of her.

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