Te Ara i Whiti Artist Feature – James

James Tapsell-Kururangi

Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Mākino, Tainui, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Rākairoa

James Tapsell-Kururangi is Assistant Curator for Te Tuhi. He runs Papatūnga in Tāmaki Makaurau. James graduated from Massey University with a Master of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) in 2019. He graduated with a Bachelor of Design (First Class Honours) specialising in photography in 2017. James is an emerging artist and writer; he has exhibited at ST PAUL St Gallery How to live together (2019); He waiata aroha was exhibited at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space in Wellington (2021). Adam Art Gallery, Crossings (a group show about intimacies and distance) 2021. His writing has been published with Lieu Journal; Pantograph Punch & Gloria Books.

Te Ara i Whiti

James is one of our twelve exhibiting artists for Te Ara i Whiti 2021.

James brings his HD digital video work He waiata aroha, a moving image installation that focuses on his whānau oral histories, the importance of aroha and living within Māori conceptions of time and history. The work is filmed in two locations: on the Tongariro River, close to where the artist’ great grandfather passed, and inside the house of his kuia in Rotorua.

The film transits the length of the Te Arawa Waka, as Tama-nui-te-rā comes to rest. Rather than acting to document these places, the film moves towards a semi-fictional space, where locations
dense with meaning and memory for the artist act as touchstones, gateways into an imagined celestial space.A waiata, composed by the artist, accompanies the images on screen. The waiata contains the many imagined voices of an imagined character: Te Rā; Māui and his brothers; the house of Tapsell-Kururangi’s kuia; his great grandfather. Together, these voices pose questions—around place and time, and the human condition. They observe life and death, like the sun rising and setting each day.

Produced by Tapsell-Kururangi in close collaboration with his whānau, friends and mentors, He waiata aroha is a song for the artist’s kuia, and for her father.