A Place at the Kauri Table
The kaupapa [theme] of a Place at the Kauri Table brings together 5 skilled immigrant women and one interviewer to gather and present their own migrant stories in context of women’s rights in New Zealand.
The impact of immigration to New Zealand is recorded to show their choice to become part of arts communities. The shift in cultural norms, language and social change within NZ society which is sometimes alienating. However, this shift has also helped each woman collective artist to establish their practice as support for resilience, well-being and achieving their renewal and identities as artists, teachers, mentors and professional creative makers.
Marie L. Enslin
Dr. Mei-Chueh Chao
Curator / Co-producer / Placeholder
Co-producer / Audio & Lighting / Interviews / Video & Stills / Placeholder
WIA 2020's flagship project, A Place at the Kauri Table, a social practice arts installation for the ITP Research Symposium entitled 'Whanaungatanga' held at the Eastern Institute of Technology/Te Aho a Maui in Napier, New Zealand, on 15-16 April 2019.
The installation focused on the stories of 6 women migrants, or NZers with migrant heritage or experience, with origins in war-torn countries. Five of the women were artists, the sixth a PhD linguist. The subject was their journey to adjust to living in New Zealand.
A metaphorical 'Kauri table' at which were 6 place settings, each place brought together personal artefacts either created or found by the participatory migrant artists. Some were brought from their country of origin and some were an expression of their experience of integrating into New Zealand society. These documented both the internal and external journey that each migrant has made to "be at the table". The idea is that we, as New Zealanders, would wish migrants to feel nourished and able to thrive in our beautiful country far from political instability and conflict.
The collection of objects created a visible pathway and journey for the viewer to interpret and gather meaning from. Sometimes the journey represents alienation and struggle, sometimes growth and acceptance.
Overhead spotlights highlighted each place in a timed sequence while playing an audio voiceover which related to each 'place'. The exhibition space was darkened with coloured mood lighting projected across the space. The lighting created drama and a sense of another world outside normal experience, and assisted the audience to focus on each individual place with its accompanying voiceover/story.
(Lighting install & digital sequencing by Henry Norton @ Sight & Sound Services, 514 Queen St West, Hastings, H.B., sightsoundservices.com).
Each migrant/artist was given a series of interview questions from which to record individual audio voiceovers. The questions related to their arts practice, journey to integrate into New Zealand society, the importance of WIA 2020, and origins/significance of their supplied artefacts at the table. This audio was cued to begin when an overhead spotlight switched on to illuminate their place.
Audience were invited to walk around the table, viewing the places and objects, while listening to the voiceovers. A visitor's book was provided for those who wished to respond to the exhibition.
"I felt like I walked onto a film set. Felt warmth, family and belonging, knitting in my place? - I wouldn’t sit down as the places were taken. I don’t have to sit down."
"Thank you so much. This was so profound for me. My utmost respect for your determination, grace and dignity. Do not stop!"
- Sean Thompson
"Capturing the journey of our diverse communities and how they form the fabric of our rich tapestry."
"Lisa’s place is graphic as a ‘broken plate’. Effective design." - Mandy
"Lovely to sit at the table of your journey and that of your family." - Marcus Williams
"Thank you for enriching Aotearoa.
We are so blessed to have you here:
'Where should I stand, sit?
Am I welcome to sit - should I move?
Do I belong? We belong together ...
Sitting at this Kauri table
Starting new conversations
Arohanui" - Jo
"Many thanks for the Symposium and this installation." - Alessandra
"Wonderful." - Paul
A Place at the Kauri Table
Winner YICCA International Contest of Contemporary Art 2020
CMC Milano, Italy
Official Selection - Salon des Refuses 29th Wallace Art Awards NZ
Official Selection - Wairoa Maori Film Festival 2020
2nd Place Claude & Sue Corty Award - SPLICE Film Fest 2021
Official Selection - FICSO International Festival of Social Cinema 2021
Semi-finalist - Sustainable-Stories.org Film Fest 2021
Director, camera & editor: Helen Donnelly