Artist Tracey Tawhiao imagines Māori with space-age tools in new futuristic exhibition

By Kelvin McDonald
Credit / Tracey Tawhiao

Artist Tracey Tawhiao (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Whakatōhea) explores indigenous futurism - and the creations Māori might produce with space-age tools - in a new solo exhibition, Taputapu Ātea, which opened in Tāmaki Makaurau on Friday.

“To me, it’s what I imagined if we had space-age tools as Māori and we were navigating space, what would that look like," Tawhiao told Waatea News.

Tracey Tawhiao, Taputapu Ātea, 2022.  Source / Tautai Gallery

"I made these things out of tarpaulins and photographed them and digitised that into, and then digitised landscapes to imagine how these things would look in the future.” 

Taputapu Ātea is an installation of new paintings and digital works, showing at Tautai Gallery on Karangahape Road, that explores "the artificially intelligent future of our culture’s materialisation," Tawhiao says.

“The abundant wealth of our material culture in the storerooms of museums here and all over the world, give a deep feeling of the immense loss of an entire civilisation. Yet the greater losses remain immaterial and invisible, the loss of language, the loss of spirituality, the loss of ritual and ceremonial practice, the loss of Pā living, the loss of our schools, our lore, the loss of our ancestral beliefs.

“But by whakapapa, we are still here, and we only have to remember by whakapapa it’s all inside us. This is where our future lies, inside us. We are our whakapapa all the way to our primal parents Ranginui and Papatūānuku and beyond. We must plant that knowledge inside us, the soil from where all our gifts grow.”

Tawhiao's exhibition will also include a collaborative mural with the public.

She has an artist talk at the gallery at 2pm today.

Taputapu Ātea at Tautai Gallery, 300 Karangahape Road, Tāmaki Makaurau runs until 17 December 2022.