A series of ambulatory works
About walking was a series of performative and participatory walks that travel across Auckland with Te Hau ā Uru – the West Wind.
The walks were artworks – guided experiences leading audiences and participants across Auckland – created by twelve artists and one writer: Rodney Bell, Suzanne Cowan, Vanessa Crofskey, Christina Houghton, Melissa Laing, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Lana Lopesi, Andrew McMillan, Richard Orjis, val smith, Pīta Turei, Layne Waerea and Becca Wood.
About walking mapped cartographies outside the everyday routes of transport. Its walks-as-artworks followed stories, pathways of the imagination and the senses, awa (rivers) and maunga (volcanic hills), uncovering the hidden trajectories of our urban and bush terrain.
Using seasonal and astronomical calendars the walks were originally planned to spread across the year beginning in Mahuru (September) 2019 as the pīpīwharauroa begin to sing for spring and finishing in Aponga (August) as winter blows its last gusts. Four walks were postponed due to Covid19 and took place between September and November 2020.
A publication documenting the 15 month project will be published by Te Uru in January 2021
Rodney Bell (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a renowned dancer and performer. His artistic expression demonstrates elements of traditional Māori culture, and at the same time he’s continually seeking new ways to enhance his creative process. Bell’s performances express stories of truth and triumph and the odd love story. Bell has been dancing professionally since 1994 beginning as a founding member of Touch Compass Dance Trust, which is an internationally renowned physically integrated dance company based in Auckland, New Zealand.
Photo by Venessa Rushton
As an artist with a disability Suzanne Cowan reframes mobility as fluid, diverse and allowing for a multiplicity of experience in the landscapes that we engage with. Her career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher in dance began 20 years ago with Touch Compass Dance Company in New Zealand and she continues to work with UK based CandoCo Dance Company.
Vanessa Crofskey is a Chinese/European artist who moves fluidly between poetry, theatre and contemporary art. Crofskey creates award winning and impactful experiences, taking home the 2018 Auckland Theatre Company’s Here and Now award the 2019 Auckland Arts Festival Fringe award and the Auckland Fringe Best Spoken Word award 2 years running. She is a staff writer for Pantograph Punch, using the platform to interrogate language, intimacy, architecture and swimming.
West Auckland based performing artist Christina Houghton takes audiences on sensory and exploratory walks. Her long running series Wild Walks have rambled through West Auckland using instructions and props to help people experience the wild wonder of their immediate environment. Her work reflects on the future impacts of climate change, emergency procedures and the idea of safety.
Melissa Laing is an artist, a writer and curator who explores the creative spaces between art, ethics and politics. Recently she has taken people on ‘boat dates’ on the Whau river, run a conversation group for Share/Cheat/Unite at Te Tuhi, written stories on riding the Western train line and building a boat for Pantograph Punch, and created a transmedia exploration of the history of the National Climate Laboratory in Palmerston North.
Photo by Pati Tyrell
Jeremy Leatinu’u creates works that consider the relationships between site, history, language and people. He has invited people to carry earth from Auckland City to Waiheke, used WW2 exercise regimes to respond to former troop training sites and stood in welcome at the arrival gate of the Auckland International Airport. His work has been included in the 2019 Honolulu Biennale, the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2017 Headlands Sculpture on Gulf.
Lana Lopesi is a retired artist turned art critic and author of False Divides (2018). Previously Lana was at The Pantograph Punch where she served as the Editor-in-Chief (2017–2019) after a term as the Visual Arts Editor. Before that, she was Founding Editor of #500words (2012–2017) and Editor of Design Assembly (2018). Lana is currently a PhD Candidate at Auckland University of Technology.
Improviser, composer, and sound artist Andrew McMillan creates immersive audio experiences, live performances and soundscapes for theatre, film and television. He is a leading figure in the New Zealand improvised music scene, helping found Vitamin S, the Auckland based improvisation community, and playing an integral role in starting ‘Shameless Crowd Pleaser’, an interdisciplinary troupe of improvisors who explore interaction between their disciplines.
Mustaq Missouri arrived in Aotearoa in March 2014 and, in that year, was part of a reading of Ahi Karunaharan’s TEA, conducted under the guidance of Auckland Theatre Company. He has continued to work with Karunaharan since then. In 2019 he performed in the Auckland Theatre Company production of A Fine Balance and the Silo Theatre presentation of My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak. He is a regular performer in Summer Shakespeare productions and the lead actor in the recently released short film Maqsood written and directed by Utsav Patel.
In the last ten years artist Richard Orjis has focused on creating participatory and experiential work. He has created hau ora gardens with AD Schierning, enabled people to walk through the treetops in Albert Park and explored the queer ecologies of our city. He basis his current practice on bttm methodology, an approach to art making, pedagogy and kinship driven by the tenets of connectivity, pleasure and sub-version. Orjis has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and internationally in private galleries and public institutions.
val smith is a pākehā, non-binary, queer artist and educator based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Their performances investigate gender, sexuality, perception and participation through the forgotten marginal spaces of the city. Past performances have invited attendees to contemplate place and intimacy through somatic processes. val smith is a 2019 The Arts Foundation Laureate.
Pita Turei (Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Paoa, Nga Rauru Kiitahi) comes from a background in dance and theatre. He produces and directs independent kaupapa Maori documentaries for television and film. Turei is known as a kawa advisor, storyteller and orator connecting a new generation with the ancient histories of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Photo by Liz March
In her videos, texts and performances Layne Waerea (Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Kahungunu) blurs the lines between performance, activism and legal theory. As a former lawyer, Waerea uses her knowledge to humorously test the limits of the law through practices of artistic civil disobedience and paradigm destabilisation. Her work is based on exchanges, social actions and instructional invitations to participate such as the Chasing Fog Club (Est. 2014), a project to collectively document the ever elusive fog.
Becca Wood has been working in performance practices that slip between bodily, spatial and digital environments for the past 23 years. Previous works have involved participants as instructed performers exploring sites in response to pre-recorded sound tracks and spatial arrangements. To describe this practice she coined the term ‘choreoauratics’. It fuses choreography and sonic investigations with philosophies of listening, the body, place, digital technologies and sociality. Choreoauratic events intervene in public spaces, working poetically towards a recovery of the imperceptible and the disappearing.
Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery is a regional gallery locally rooted in West Auckland but globally minded. We have a distinctive West Auckland focus but a national and international perspective. Through our programmes, we create a world stage for art that is relevant for our audiences, to put local art, artists and ideas in conversation and context with national and international developments in contemporary practice. Te Uru receives core funding from the Waitākere Ranges Local Board of Auckland Council.
Christina Houghton is an Auckland based performing artist with experience producing outdoor events, theatre and dance projects. Her writing has been published in theatreview.co.nz, Share/Cheat/Unite Vol 4, Te Tuhi, Undisciplining Dance in Nine Movements and Eight Stumbles, Te Ao: Experimental Dance in Aotearoa. She has a PhD from AUT.
Melissa Laing currently works as the Whau Community Arts Broker, a role funded by the Whau Local Board, Auckland Council to support temporary art activations across the Whau. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney and is the lead researcher for the Performance Ethics Working Group. Her writing has been published in Pantograph Punch, academic journals, and exhibition and artist catalogues.