Fiona Amundsen and Kanariya Eishi An Ordinary Life (video still) 2021. HD Video, colour, sound. Courtesy of the artists

Fiona Amundsen and Kanariya Eishi An Ordinary Life (video still) 2021. HD Video, colour, sound. Courtesy of the artists

Things That Shape Us

Media Release

Things That Shape Us reflects on how we cope with trauma, and how it changes us as a community, at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū from 24 July to 7 November.

“From a starting point of examining what the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch have been through in the last decade, Things That Shape Us spreads its focus to look at the trauma caused by racism, inequality, climate change and indigenous politics, from the colonisation of Aotearoa to the bombing of Nagasaki,” says Christchurch Art Gallery Director Blair Jackson.

The exhibition brings together a variety of photography, moving image and graphic design projects from artists who have used documentary practices in the aftermath of traumatic events to reconsider how we think of ourselves and encourage collective action. They include:

  • Works from several artists in the years following the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. Local photographer Tim J Veling documents the ballasts installed to support damaged buildings, echoing the care and empathy people had for each other. Moving image works from painter Miranda Parkes capture the anxiety of the moment. Graphic designer Matthew Galloway analyses our city’s logo and what this says about collective identity in terms of the settler coloniser history of Ōtautahi. Finally, Ella Sutherland considers the future of the Gallery building now that it sits on base isolators and is able to withstand future ground movement.
  • Photographer John Miller (Ngāpuhi) has been capturing protests across Aotearoa for 50 years, recording anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1970s, the 1975 Māori Land March, dissent around the Springbok Tour that divided the nation in 1981, the anti-nuclear movement and much more. His work documents people challenging the status quo and actively tyring to progress towards democracy.
  • The immersive video installation Te rerenga pōuri o nga parawhenua ki Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, from Natalie Robertson, Alex Monteith and Graham Atkins visits one of the largest eroded gully complexes in the country, Waiorongomai. It explores the devastating impacts of land management policies on the Waiapu River region over the past century.
  • Fiona Amundsen and Kanariya Eishi address the lingering effects of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki as told through the performance of rakugo.

Things That Shape Us asks how we can gather in the long shadow of events like these and use the impact and memory of loss to work together towards a better democracy,” Mr Jackson says.

Curated by Melanie Oliver, Things That Shape Us showcases the work of Fiona Amundsen, Matthew Galloway, John Miller, Natalie Robertson, Alex Monteith and Graham Atkins, Ella Sutherland, Violent Legalities, Miranda Parkes and Tim J Veling.