News from Storybox
Mana Moana will be back on the water in Wellington next week with a free spectacular showcase of contemporary art. New moving image artworks by more than 15 leading New Zealand artists will be projected on a large water screen at Whairepo Lagoon over four nights from Thursday 19 to Sunday 22 November between 8.30pm to 10pm each night.
Mana Moana 2020 brings together Māori and Pacific visual artists, poets, musicians and choreographers from across Aotearoa to weave art and technology together. The result is 45 minutes of new multimedia and video artworks which speak to our relationships with water and the oceans and the need for collective action to ensure their survival. This is art of our place in the world and of this time. Art that explores issues and will connect with audiences.
The Mana Moana experience is brought to life by the award-winning Wellington production company Storybox. The specialist team of designers and technicians have worked alongside the artist collective and curators throughout the process and are thrilled to see Mana Moana back on the water in Te Whanganui-a-Tara as a live public event on the specially engineered water screen.
Co-curated by Rachael Rakena (Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi) and Mike Bridgman (Tonga, Ngāti Pākeha) from Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, the Mana Moana 2020 collection features Laughton Kora, Horomona Horo, Regan Balzer, Tina Ngata, Terri Ripeka Crawford, Warren Maxwell, Dr Johnson Witehira, Michel Tuffery, Kurt Komene, Kura Puke, Stuart Foster, Hinemoa Waikerepuru, Kereama Taepa, Dr Karlo Mila, Louise Pōtiki Bryant. The curators reached out to multimedia creatives and artists to produce new work that pushes the boundaries of the medium while also staying true to the kaupapa of the project.
“Mana Moana 2020’s kaupapa became a creative collaboration under COVID-19 lockdown conditions, with a strong theme emerging of healing. The power of water and the ocean to heal, and the urgent need for us to turn the tide to create a healing impact for our environment, towards upholding the mana of our moana.” says Rachael Rakena, co-curator of Mana Moana.
“These artworks, this project, is of the moment. The way they’re viewing the world through the lens of Mana Moana enables it to reflect the times,” says Rob Appierdo, Director of Storybox, producers of Mana Moana. “There is so much healing in the experience of gathering and connecting. We are thrilled to present this mahi on the waterfront in November as it touches water in our physical environment.”
The 2020 collection takes off where Mana Moana 2019 left off, but with many works this year having a strong theme of wellbeing, balance and healing. Some of the artists brought these themes to their work as a response to the anxieties of 2020 and the global pandemic.
One example is Mana Moana Meditation, created by poet Dr Karlo Mila (Tongan, Pākeha) and visual artist Michel Tuffery (Samoan, Rarotongan, Ma‘ohi Tahitian) collaborating during lockdown. They blend poetry and moving image, taking the audience into a meditative state of Oceanic contemplation.
“We are waves of motion, mokopuna,
moving through impermanent organs,
tissues, shedding cells and molecules
on the way to becoming…
We are waves of water,
on our way to being ancestors…”
– from Mana Moana Meditation, by Dr Karlo Mila
Mila says this section “captures our philosophy of life and death – this suggests that we reincarnate again and again through our bloodlines – if not simply biological, maybe as a recycled essence.”
“Tuffery and Mila’s Mana Moana Meditation is beautiful – and we have had people in London say thank you so much for this. It is grounding me right now in the madness of the world,” says Appierdo.
Mana Moana was launched as a ‘digital ocean’ earlier in the year in response to COVID-19 lockdown, which meant people worldwide could access the artworks online as an immersive digital experience. The seven artworks being projected onto a screen of water in November were commissioned earlier this year for Mana Moana Digital Ocean https://digitalocean.manamoana.co.nz/ which is nominated for two Best Design Awards in 2020. Winners are being announced on 13 November.
“This project had to pivot due to Covid and then pivoted again as we brought it back on the water. We couldn’t have done it without the support and belief from our partners Wellington City Council, Massey University, and Creative NZ, who see that a project like this is important and that it’s part of our contemporary cultural landscape,” says Appierdo. “Mana Moana has a home on the water and in the digital ocean online which just shows the strength of the works, to resonate on different mediums and different delivery mechanisms.”
Among the seven new artworks in the Mana Moana 2020 screening between 19-22 November, are two dance video works by leading choreographers which will have a powerful presence projected large on the water screen. Tūātea, by Louise Potiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu) featuring dancer Bianca Hyslop, music by Paddy Free and taonga pūoro by Horomona Horo (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Taranaki), is a work that explores the power of the huge breaking waves of an oceanic storm and the profound calm at the lowest depths of the ocean. I am Hine, I am Moana, by choreographer Terri Ripeka Crawford (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngai Tūhoe) collaborating with artist and writer Tina Ngata (Ngāti Porou) who is an advocate for environmental and indigenous rights. This work delves into the omnipotence of Hine, the ageless, divine, feminine principle that flows directly from the universe, manifesting through all wahine in various roles and stages of life.
The inaugural Mana Moana 2019 water screen project won a Gold at the Best Design Awards last year and gained international attention being screened at the 2020 Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto.
Mana Moana is made possible by support from Creative New Zealand, the Wellington City Council and Massey University’s Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts.