Co-conceived by Bridget Riggir-Cuddy and Misal Adnan Yıdız
On the grounds … We are on our grounds … And the ground is shaking. It is precarious, it is transforming, and it promises horizons. Politically speaking, we are experiencing urgent transitions in our understandings of (home)land, borders, territory, belongingness, natural resources, environment, and earth. Everything is changing at the same time. Everything is absent in being, and present in becoming. The world is sinking. Or we rise together. Are we together in this?
Some exhibitions make themselves. Sometimes exhibitions decide to happen in their ontologies, and like Fluxus, they drop into our realities through the air. They are contagious, they are literally “communicable by contact”. They can spring from a source greater than individual curators or practitioners. Regarding the common space we share through curating, On the Grounds has often felt this way. As if a force greater than history, the artists, writers, activists, the people – perhaps whenua itself – urged us into this composition.
Picturing or knowing the land has historically been used as a device to forge our national identity. Our apparently “empty” land is commonly represented through a colonial lens in the service of identity-building. Such a colonial perspective privileges controlling and shaping the land over allowing the land to shape oneself. We have investigated a gap, a necessity, an urgency to bring together our collective references, understandings, and unique relationships with our location. We let the location go abstract.
We propose to unlearn our privileges. Whenua is a life-force: it defines us, and how we survive and relate to each other. It is whakapapa and our history. As Tau Iwi curators, we have been influenced by local, authentic, and sensitive ways of relating to the land. On the Grounds has been formed by these ways. We are inspired by the tangata whenua and their generosity and hospitality. We respect their spirits, hear their whispers and feel their minds. It is our hope that the greater force of whenua, beyond each individual practitioner, is present within these walls.
Welcome to our grounds.
Special thanks: Artspace NZ, Starkwhite, Gow Langsford Gallery, Hopkinson Mossman, Michael Lett Gallery, RM gallery, and ST PAUL St Gallery
Press release courtesy Starkwhite.