Shannon Te Ao Ka mua, ka muri
26 January – 22 March 2020

Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square

Ka mua, ka muri is a new sound and moving image installation by Aotearoa New Zealand-based artist Shannon Te Ao (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) that explores our experience of time, history and song.

The exhibition consists of a two-channel film, which uses the road movie genre as its starting point, and locates two sisters in the immediate wake of an unnamed tragic event. Following on from his most recent work what was or could be today (again) (2019), the film features two original songs developed by Te Ao in collaboration with Kurt Komene (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki Whānui). These function as both script and score and reflect a social embodiment that privileges poetic imagery.

The exhibition's title, Ka mua, ka muri, is derived from a whakatauki (proverb) often cited as a central guiding principle within Māori ideology. Meaning “to walk backwards into the future," it suggests time exists on a continuum where past, present and future co-exist and are inherently tethered through ancestry and action. At the heart of the exhibition is an acknowledgement of the critical importance of language as a vital means to maintain links to indigenous knowledge systems, culture, and identity.

Te Ao's work often uses the processes of translation as a method with which to invite shared authorship and a multiplicity of voices. In keeping with this, there will also be an installation consisting of different translated versions of the film's lyrics. This will form the backdrop to a number of events taking place during the course of the exhibition, developed in partnership with local collaborators.

Ka mua, ka muri has been co-commissioned by Oakville Galleries and Remai Modern, with the support of Creative New Zealand.

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