Teha’amana was from the Cook Islands. History tells us that around the age of 13, she moved with her family to Tahiti, where she met the celebrated French post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin, who took her as his wife. The meeting, arrangement and marriage likely took place in a single afternoon. Gauguin referred to her as his vahine, which simply means ‘woman’ in Tahitian. Gauguin had three such vahines.
Pictured is but one possible way the arrangement may have ended, many years later. Redressing 20th-century visual stereotypes, it is also inspired by depictions of the fate of another famous colonial interloper, Holofernes, at the hands of Judith, as described in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith.
Leslie Rice, 2019