What do we call ‘Home’? What are our shared foundations and values? When you think about yours what does it look like, and what will it look like in the future? What does home mean to you?
Commissioned by CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand with the support of Creative New Zealand in 2019, and curated by Serena Bentley, Personal Space is a 30 minute collection of five new artist cinema works by Janet Lilo, Tanu Gago, Natasha Matila-Smith, Campbell Patterson (New Zealand) and Atong Atem (Australia).
Serena Bentley is a New Zealand born curator currently based in Melbourne, Australia, where she works for ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
Each artist was asked to respond to a series of questions about the idea of home. The concept was prompted in part by New Zealand-born curator Serena Bentley's 12 year residence in Melbourne and also from Bentley observing events from afar, including the recent Christchurch shooting.
Says Bentley "I have lived away from Aotearoa NZ, my home, for twelve years and I continue to feel an unrelenting longing for my family there and for the land. I appreciate also however that distance changes your relationship to place - it can be easy to erase the complexities of home and to romanticise it instead."
Bentley's invitation to the artists acknowledged that what we call 'home' is often problematic.
"‘Where are you from?’ can be a loaded and complex question. How do you respond? Home can be permanent, transient, or imagined - a place to work towards, leave behind, escape from or return to later. Maybe you have more than one. Or perhaps home is less about place and more about the people you surround yourself with - the family you belong to or create. Is home a place we get to choose for ourselves? For those with ties to Aotearoa, the recent tragic events in Christchurch were a shock to some but not others, shattering illusions and forcing many to interrogate the realities of life in New Zealand. What are our shared foundations and values? What does home look like from the inside versus the outside?"
The five artists have all responded to the brief in diverse ways; Natasha Matila-Smith invites us into her bedroom to reveal her innermost thoughts, Campbell Patterson performs seemingly absurd actions in orange juice soaked underpants; Atong Atem maps her journey from Ethiopia to Melbourne; Tanu Gago amplifies images of Pasifika masculinity; Janet Lilo offers a lament for the loss of the family home.
Image credit: Still from SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN (2019) a video by Tanu Gago. Commissioned by CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand with the support of Creative New Zealand.