Te Au: Liquid Constituencies
Te Au: Liquid Constituencies was an exhibition of artwork by Latin American and Pacific artists whose work is influenced by our relationship with water.
Te Waituhi a Nuku. Drawing Ecologies. Photo: Maija Stephens
Te Au: Liquid Constituencies was an exhibition of artwork by 10 artists from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Latin America, whose work is influenced by water. In te reo Māori, “te au” has two meanings: “water currents” and “the self”. The artists used a range of media, including cut paper, weaving, stitching, stencilling, drawing and moving image, to show our relationships with water.
Communities depend on water and currents around them. For centuries, springs, streams, rivers and oceans have given them food and sustenance, routes for voyaging and trade, and a sense of identity. The artwork in Te Au: Liquid Constituencies recognises the significance of water for the artists, and their communities and environments. It draws on local and ancestral knowledge about the natural world, as well as legislation and notions of justice, to invite the audience to witness how our relationship with water has been disturbed by colonisation, extraction of resources and heavy industry; the artwork encourages us to advocate and act for change.
One of the exhibits is a video work by Chilean artist María Francisca Montes Zúñiga. In her work Vibrante, María traces the path of Portuguese explorer Hernando de Magallanes. He was the first known European to travel the passage of water that runs between the southern tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. This strait became an important commercial route for European settlers, although it was already crucial to the survival of indigenous seafaring communities.
Te Au: Liquid Constituencies - shown at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery between December 2022 and March 2023 – was the first in a planned series of environmentally themed exhibitions and events at the gallery. These events are aimed at increasing our understanding of, and concern for, the wellbeing of water. In 2023, Wild for Taranaki will be running ecology workshops and other activities alongside the exhibitions.
Published 02 November 2023
“Artists are taking action but aren't here to provide the answers. They are helping us think about the questions and about the world around us, to expand and stimulate our thinking.”
December 2022 to March 2023
Languages of delivery
Te reo Māori