Crossing the fluid borders, at Pah Homestead

Written by Jonathan Mahon-Heap

Photography Supplied

Far Nearer brings artists from multiple-origin communities of Auckland and online communities together.

We are alone in the bottom of the South Pacific, and that makes us the lucky ones. As we stumble out of lockdown, Pah Homestead’s new exhibition, Far Nearer, is quick to remind us that physical distancing lingers ‘fresh in our memories’. Their first show of 2020 interrogates whether ‘[now] that physical contact is no longer restricted, does this mean that there is no longer a need to stay mindful of cultivating better connections?’ 

Fluid Borders, the inclusive art platform behind the show, is only in its second year of “providing space for the collision of creative minds and a space to provide new creative idea generation.” In that time, its name has become more a provocation than ever before. Curator Wai Ching Chan describes Far Nearer as a ‘gathering of voices from many communities; the exhibited work calls for better connectivity and better community mindedness.’

This community mindedness is at the root of everything Fluid Borders does as a collective, in honouring the twin processes whakawhanaungatanga and manākitanga. The latter describes the responsibility and authority of the host to care for their visitor’s emotional, spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing. The former describes the centrality of extended family-like relationships and the “rights and responsibilities, commitments and obligations, and supports that are fundamental to the collectivity.” Whether we succeed in honouring both, now our borders are more rigid than ever, remains to be seen. 

If art’s a mirror to the world, we’re at best lucky to catch a glance within it; as we still grapple to see how our world looks, now that it’s been tilted on its axis. For the moment, or at least until 20 September, Pah Homestead is the place to consider this, or, as Wai Ching Chan says, to ‘network, cross paths, and stop for a conversation’.

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YB by Synthia Bahati, 2019.

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