TREASURES LEFT BY OUR ANCESTORS
Exhibited in Passionate Instincts, The Physics Room, Ōtautahi Christchurch, curated by Khye Hitchcock, Emma Ng, Henry Davidson and Ted Whittaker
On the Grounds, Starkwhite, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 2017, curated by Misal Adnan Yıldız and Bridget Riggir-Cuddy
Māori Moving Image: An Open Archive, The Dowse Art Museum, Te Awakairangi Upper Hutt, 2019, The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Ōtautahi Christchurch, 2019, curated by Bridget Reweti and Melanie Oliver
Treasures Left by Our Ancestors is a film that responds to two diorama exhibitions at the Canterbury Museum in Ōtauhtahi Christchurch. The film shows me crouching in front of these, placing my body in response to the scenes and holding each position for as long as possible, drawing attention to the ambiguities of my own relationship with what is displayed in the museum environment.
The museum exhibition is intended to depict early Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand, and their relationship to the environment, animals, and land. The figures are all hunched over as if unable to stand upright, while the accompanying didactics describe how the environment “provided sustenance” to the passive Māori, who also contributed to the extinction of early bird species. In the backdrop of one diorama the forest burns. I wanted to intervene in this environment, one that continues to reinforce colonial narratives around Indigenous bodies and relationships with the environment.
Crouching was an act of empathy and endurance. I wanted it to open up both a space for discontent, and for speculation and feeling around what we might inherit from our ancestors.
Treasures left by our ancestors, 2016. Single-channel HD video, colour, sound, duration 15 mins 10 secs.