Te Hīkoi Toi: From darkness to light – exhibitions welcome Matariki
supplied / Neil Prize
Whakahoki by Keri-Mei Zagrobelna in the Courtenay Place Lightboxes.
The Pūanga and Matariki stars rising in our sky at this time mark the passage of one year i te ao Māori. They help us understand seasonal change, but it’s more complex than that. With each phase of the moon in the maramataka, the lunar calendar, there is another layer of understanding of what is celebrated, why and how.
The date of the Matariki celebration changes every year as it is based on the position of the moon when the stars reappear. Each phase of the moon reflects the changes in the elements of nature, and these in turn reflect the changes that are occurring in the spirit world and the emotional and physical demands of us through this period of Hine Takurua, our days. the darkest. They remind us to look up, to seek the light of the night sky. Remembering what we have lost and who we have lost, wishing for what we hope will happen.
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As night smeared the sky around me and the rain sewed its embroidery on my coat, I made my way to the Te Aro light boxes in Courtenay Place. Pūtātara announced the new work of mana whenua artist Keri-Mei Zagrobelna (Te Ati Awa).
Whakahoki is a layered work of jewelry photographs made by Zagrobelna based on 16 of the 30 phases of the maramataka moon. Each picture tells a story: one in the shape of a shark’s tooth, another of golden lips resting on clay, another a glass vessel with a woven gold binding and a kumara growing out of it. interior. Some are worn by models embodying atua, like ethereal presences. All are photographed by Norm Heke and curated by Awhina Tamarapa.
The result is breathtaking. Zagrobelna says the process of making the work was incredibly grounded in the extent that she incorporated her understanding of maramataka into her practice, honoring productive days for hard work and low energy phases as days of rest.
She says that despite the challenge of living in a fast-paced society based on the Gregorian calendar, it seemed important for gaining a deeper understanding of maramataka and a connection to one’s ancestors.
I walked out of this connection celebration to watch UPU at the Circa Theater, curated by Grace Iwashita-Taylor and directed by Fasitua Amosa as part of the Kia Mau Festival. It was an incredible 70 minute immersion in the poetry of Te-Moana-nui-a-Kiwa. It felt like an acknowledgment of the pain of the past with a celebration of who we are and the hopes for the future that come with every writer, actor, and audience member. It was like a change in poetry as it was in theater, I came out inspired and grateful.
My hīkoi had appropriately started in the dark and moved towards the light. The morning took me to the Elfi Spiewack jewelry show Deeper at the Avid Gallery on Victoria St. His work was directed to that of Zagrobelna with sheep bone and silver materials, and carved designs – both original and familiar in nature. Despite the use of similar materials, his art is fresh and firm in its own German roots, touching on influences here in Aotearoa with a natural form while avoiding the appropriation of other bony or native images. The work has a lightness, but also a memory shaped from the depths of our bones.
The new collective exhibition of the Adam art gallery Crossings builds on the experiences of artists over the past year. He explores intimacies and distances, and the collective pause that has catalyzed many existential observations. “The confinements,” writes curator Christina Barton, “were a time to reflect, to withdraw into oneself, to become aware of the inner worlds of our mind, our body, our homes, our country; when the hustle and bustle of modern life has momentarily ceased ”.
From James Tapsell-Kururangi’s personal diary and a photograph of a year spent in his grandmother’s residential unit in Rotorua, to a video of a 13 refugee dinghy adrift in the Mediterranean Sea by Next Spring Collective, the works grapple with difficult and diverse reflections on life.
This maintenance of memory results in the presentation of the work of artists also past. The incredible book of works by Vivian Lynn Threshold, with a skin-like paint that resembles a scarring, is an exploration of non-binary physicality. Grant Lingard swan song is devastating in her domestic service – laundry racks with crisp laundry show the loss of many people to HIV.
Rozanna Lee has a work on textiles and moving image which is a meditation on displacement, migration and connection to her ancestors through the art of batik. The luminous patchwork tunnel by Turumeke Harrington (Kati Mamoe, Kāi Tahu) Longer than I can remember imitates birth and takes us in and out of the exhibition, from the dark interior of the gallery to the light at the end of the tunnel.
This transformation sums up my hīkoi this week: from the dark internal spaces of memory and loss to the brightly colored possibility of our future. Hold on, see some good art. We will do it together.
- Whakahoki Te Aro light boxes, Place Courtenay, until September 26.
- Deeper, at the Avid Gallery, until July 10.
- Crossings at the Adam Art Gallery, until August 22. (Under the Covid-19 Level 2 Alert, the Adam Art Gallery is temporarily closed until further notice.)