Auckland Pride celebrates the nuanced lived experiences of Takatāpui through public and digital art
On the 50th anniversary of the first gay liberations march, Auckland pride celebrated with the launch of its first-ever Takatāpui Festival. Seven Takatāpui artists were commissioned to showcase their art through public installations across Auckland CBD, all within walking distance of each other. These artists celebrate their shared lived experiences as Takatāpui as well as their own Pakiwaitara (personal history). Through their art, these artists express their truths, grace, and resilience as they navigate between worlds.
Due to Covid, many parts of the festival were delayed. This meant that some pieces were taken down early or moved online, but this didn’t stop these artists from coming up with a way to showcase their art and tell their stories. Originally planned to show at Albert Parks Caretakers Cottage in a traditional gallery setting, the art of 10 Takatāpui artists now exists in the form of a digital art gallery. Artists Abigail Aroha Jensen, Atarangi Anderson, Matariki Bennett, Quack Pirihi, Tīhema Bennettm, and many more contribute to a digital art experience that tells personal but shared stories in hopes that other Takatāpui may relate.
Infinite formations were the first of these pieces I saw. Hana Burgess showcases an A5 zine dedicated to her love, Haylee. Hana explores love through whakapapa. An interconnected aroha that passes through whānau, tuākana, friends, and extends to non-human relationships. The aroha passes through our land, moana, maunga, and awa. Hana reshapes texts and images that reflect “colonial imaginings of our worlds.” Infinite formations is a retaliation to the way settler colonialism has damaged our “complex and expansive ways of relating to one another.” Hana reshapes and redesigns the colonial perspectives that damaged and destroyed the expansive way in which Māori relate to the world and the people around them.
Located on the air bridge that hovers over lower Albert street between PwC and Commercial Bay is Waharua Kōpito. The name refers to “the points people or events cross” and the happenings at such places. Artist Kopeke-Te Aho and Novak concentrate on bridging BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) and non-BIPOC rainbow communities. We can see the sunshine through this beautiful art that then gleams on the floor that makes you feel like you’re walking on a real rainbow bridge. Many people cross the link and go about their business with a little more visual Takatāpui art that bridges the gap between them and us.
Te Tinana, located in Britomart atrium, chronicles the queer experience through the lens of artist Liam Brown. Their work is centred on the experience of queer POC and how they navigate the world. Liam says, “As a plus-size Takatāpui Māori, I never saw my body represented literally anywhere.” These artworks resulted from them spending time in their studio space and “finding comfort in all the cracks and crevices that I hide on a daily basis.” It also serves to decolonise their lens and help the viewer decolonise how they see themselves and the world.
The artwork displays creativity through multi medium pieces of Takatāpui brilliance. Many other pieces make up Te Tīmatanga to tell a collective story of resilience, trauma, and healing. Still, we’ll let you see them for yourselves. I only wish we could’ve had these pieces for a little longer, but here’s us looking forward to next year’s celebration of Takatāpui and the art that comes with it.
Te Tīmatanga artworks and locations can be found here: https://aucklandpride.org.nz/te-timatanga/