Cassandra Barnett is a māmā and writer of Māori (Raukawa), Irish (Darragh/McGuire), Scottish (Buchanan) and English (Cornish) descent. Her son is also Rwandan (Cyangugu). Together, they traverse the borders between indigeneity and diaspora, whiteness, brownness and blackness, singularity and multiplicity, hau kainga and waewae tapu, home and exile, coloniser and colonised.
Cassandra has published her work internationally in academic books (Animism in Art and Performance) and journals (World Art), in literary journals (Cordite, Action-Spectacle, Landfall, OraNui, Brief, Te Whē) and anthologies (Black Marks on the White Page, No Other Place to Stand), in art books (Robin White: Something is Happening Here, Ann Shelton: Dark Matter, Fiona Amundsen: The Imperial Body) and in small runs of zines (I Got You Babe) and collectively published handmade books. She has exhibited paintings (Flat Earthers), performed her poetry at festivals (Brisbane Writers Festival, Aotearoa New Zealand Festival, Verb NZ) and community gatherings (Te Hā Māori Writers' Hui), delivered papers and floor talks (Enjoy Gallery, Auckland Public Art Gallery, CocA Christchurch, St Paul St Gallery, Gus Fisher Gallery), convened panel discussions (Adam Art Gallery, Te Papa), and created strange audiovisual recordings, as well as a poetry chapbook (How | Hao) with The chronicle of <_____>. Selections of these things can be found on this website. Her past work is permanently under revision.
In her professional life Cassandra has worked as an Art Theory Lecturer, Educator, Communications Consultant, Cultural Adviser, Editor, Environmental Writer. After fifteen years in the abstract, bureacratic, neocolonising realms of art, theory and academia, and ten years in the wilds of solo parenting, she is called to write / activate more directly into the grit of experience - and into the kaupapa or issues that call her. Life keeps her in the leaks and abysses, slippages and seepages, faux pas and creative eruptions of the contact zone. So she writes this experience - haphazardly, across essays, fiction and poetry.
Landback is a thread. Reo learning and tikanga learning are threads. Creolisation and transgression and boundless transformation are threads. Love is a thread. Decolonisation and deterritorialisation (despite everything) are threads. Walking backwards into the future, holding hands with ancestors, is a very long and bright thread. Futurism is a thread. So is darkness, so is absurdity. This is a work in progress. Her hunch says that healing lies in paradox and not-knowing, and in tending to the needs of the earth. Abstract tendencies remain. She is honing her purpose.