A Meditation on Time
Te Tuhi Arte Gallery
Auckland, Nueva Zelanda
When a radical life changing event occurs, time seems to stretch or compress. At the present moment, revisiting philosophical concepts of time may allow for a deeper understanding of this phenomenon. For the ancient Greeks, there were many modalities of time. The Aristotelian notion of time – chronos, as a measure of movement, sequential time – was only one of them. Conversely, kairos signalled an opportune moment, a suspension contained in an instant, crucial to creativity and play, within which extraordinary events may unfold. The most encompassing of these concepts, however, is cyclical time, represented by the god Aion, associated with the zodiac and visually represented in connection to the Earth. This boundless, circular notion of time and its intrinsic bond to life on Earth seems close to the South Pacific time-space concept embedded in wā/vā.1
The exhibition DE-celerate attempts to capture the fluctuations in artists’ thinking at the time of a worldwide pandemic. The basic human ability to adapt for survival meets the hope that better times may emerge from uncertainty. In a non-didactic manner, and acknowledging the inter-relationship between humans and nature within mātauranga Māori, the exhibition explores how ways of doing, thinking and being in the world have the potential to shift at this time. It proposes that criticality and positive connections may also be nurtured by the demands of resilience.
As an exhibition and an ongoing reflection, DE-celerate is articulated through artists’ works and activations. Drastically limited by the travel restrictions preventing many artists’ visits, the activations take place instead through the invitation for visitors to take home or barter for certain objects. These exchanges are intended as a gentle way of satisfying an increased appetite for human interaction after self-isolation.
Titiro ki muri, haere ki mua: walking towards the future while looking back.
Indigenous cinema integrates knowledges and brings people together to counteract the atomisation of different communities and its consequence: the weakening of indigenous peoples. Speaking about his methodology, Huichaqueo comments: Mapuche people dream of other people and communicate with them in the dream space...The images come to me in the state of pewma (revelation, dream, journey) informing my film making. I capture images and place them in a timeline, only filming where I am welcomed and allowed to enter or leaving if these conditions are not met. For all the pre-existing peoples of the earth, the flesh hurts, as our common narrative is colonial violence, the imposition of languages and narratives.
In addition, women’s voices stand at the centre of Mapuche Nation artist Francisco Huichaqueo’s film Mujeres Espíritu / Spirit Women. The work invites us to stop and observe with empathy the claim for space made by indigenous poets, whose poems and songs reformulate old questions in contemporary terms. In the context of the pandemic, Huichaqueo defines his work as a reflection on his circumstances at a time of adjustment, a time of medicine. Huichaqueo’s choice of women poets is related to the fact that ‘it is time for women to show the way from solidarity and love’. He notes, ‘we live in ecocidal and homicidal times’. In a world shaken by shifts on a tectonic scale – changes brought about by the pandemic, ecocide, racism and poor leadership, among many other contemporary conditions – women lead the way with their voices.
Mujeres Espíritu / Spirit Women is an ambitious work filmed in the territories of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Chamula, Chenalhó and Xochimilco in Mexico; Salar de Uyuni, Oruro, La Paz and Isla del Sol in Bolivia; and Wallmapu/Maicolpue, Chiwimpüllü, Contulmo, Millawinkul in Araucanía and Los Lagos, Biobío, in Chile. The five women lend their voices in their ancestral languages: Stotsil, Mapuzungun, Quechua as well as Spanish. Their poems and songs aim to restore balance, because ‘the loss of the land’s health wounds the eyes’, as Enriqueta Lunes explains during an online gathering. The women poets explain that their poems and songs are like medicine, that in the times of the pandemic serves to heal the spirit, as the virus is not only a physical sickness but also the fruit of spiritual imbalance. These artists are creating their own narratives, in their own words, ‘producing self-ethnographies that dignify the bodies by building their own archive’.
Agradecimientos: Gabriela Salgado/ Curadora/Artistas: Stevei Houkāmau/ tienne de France (FR)/ Fiona Clark (Aotearoa)/ John Pule (NU/Aotearoa)/ Kimsooja (KR)/ Nicolas Molé (FR/NC) & Mariana Molteni (AR/NC).