HOWLING OUT AT A SAFE DISTANCE
Screened in Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns, 2020-2021, CIRCUIT Artist Cinema Commissions, Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington 2020, Grand Hall, Christchurch Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, Ōtautahi Christchurch 2021, Artspace Aotearoa, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland 2021, curated by David Teh
Howling out at a safe distance uses four partial editions of the historic Māori language newspaper Te Pīpīwharauroa as a way to think about the grey areas in language and understanding. In the video I use A4 sheets of paper with windows cut into them to isolate words and brief phrases from the articles found in Te Pīpī, which are about searching for something, translation, speaking to one another, and loneliness.
To make this work, I first read all of the articles that appear in the video, a slow and imperfect act of translation. I put the text through google translate and used my own imperfect knowledge of te reo Māori to mediate the many errors, also heavily aided by maoridictionary.com. In this process some meanings were clear to me quickly, sometimes I could just get the gist of things, and other times what was written was completely opaque and confusing. This is very much like the experience of being a learner of te reo Māori, or even trying to navigate your way through our histories here in Aotearoa.
It is important for me to make work which acknowledges the difficulties of communication and understanding in a language that is incredibly meaningful to me but also presents the heartache of the many reasons why I have to learn it in the first place.
Howling at a safe distance, single-channel HD video, colour, sound, duration 11 mins 42 secs.