Monday, July 27, 2009

Stories in Boxes

Christchurch. July 2009. Ajr
Waharoa is the Maori word for gateway and traditionally a waharoa is an ornately carved feature at the entrance to a marae. At the 2009 Christchurch Arts Festival Winter Garden in Cathedral Square ‘waharoa’ takes on a whole new meaning. The team from Wellington creative design studio, Dnation (Jess Feast and Robert Appierdo), have created “Waharoa: Storybox” celebrating people and place in a unique way. At the north and south ends of the square (on either side of Christchurch Cathedral), they’ve stacked 12 huge shipping containers (two sets, three-high at each end), to form a gateway into the festival’s Winter Garden performance area. Within the two top tiers of each stack, a video ‘documentary’ presents a graphic interpretation that explores layers of history, culture and the inter-connection of themes through time.
Christchurch. July 2009. Ajr
Running for 40 minutes from 6pm each night for the duration of the festival, the story boxes tell two distinct stories: Reflections of the Past and Visions for the Future. The Past story, Mapping Puari, presents a graphic interpretation of Canterbury’s colonisation, weaving together a fascinating, flickering, historical swirl of the people, objects, buildings, plants and animals that have occupied the area over time. The end result is “an interactive whakapapa of events and objects that have grown out of the physical space that was once Puari Pa.” The Future Mo Tatou, features interviews with four Ngai Tahu kaumatua (elders) in their eighties and four Ngai Tahu young people. It’s an intimate presentation sharing their gathered visions for the future. In the base of the storybox stacks, there are presentations from Animation Substation (sourced from the Melbourne Animation Festival) geared towards primary and secondary school children. I love everything about this terrific installation – the unexpected heft of the ‘brutal’ shipping containers placed beside the architectural finery of the cathedral; the visual confetti of Mapping Puari; the ‘visions’ of Mo Tatou. I think it’s brilliantly conceived and it’s just a pity it will only be around until August 9th. To my mind, it would be a far better public art investment (though impractical I’m sure), than many we have been forced to accept.

1 comment:

  1. 've been watching and liking your coverage of the christchurch arts festival- thanks! particularly love this piece and its reinterpretation of customary art. good stuff!


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