2018 ST PAUL St Symposium: Ko au te au / I am the ocean

2018 ST PAUL St Symposium: Ko au te au / I am the ocean

ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University

Two Oceans at Once (working drawing), 2018. Adapted from Jonty Valentine and Taarati Taiaroa's design for Local Time – Horotiu, 2012. Courtesy ST PAUL St Gallery, AUT.

July 23, 2018
2018 ST PAUL St Symposium: Ko au te au / I am the ocean
August 24–25, 2018
Ellen Melville Centre
1 Freyberg Place
Pioneer Women’s Hall
1000 Auckland
Aotearoa New Zealand
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Co-convened by Charlotte Huddleston and Balamohan Shingade 

Ko au te au / I am the ocean is a two-day symposium which begins a collective enquiry that will continue into 2019 through all ST PAUL St programmes. This collective enquiry is shaped by three interrelated kaupapa: knowledge, language, and love.[1] The kaupapa relate to, are conditioned by, and exist within each other. 

Now in its seventh year, the annual symposium has consistently focused on knowledges and questions of knowing—of how we come to know, and cultural conceptions within which knowledge is defined. Knowledge is embedded in practice, language and culture; it cannot be decontextualized. In addressing this we attend to lawyer Moana Jackson’s reminder that “if knowledge is power then we need to be clear about whose knowledge we are using or defining...”[2] With a focus on artistic and curatorial practices, we ask questions such as: what is the relationship between knowledge, knowing and understanding? 

Language too is a significant ground of power relations. Language is culture; world-views are expressed in language, in its words and structures, its forms and limits. In thinking about language we consider the annihilating effects of suppression as per Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o’s "cultural bomb" as a weapon of imperialism, asking who speaks and who is heard, what stories are told, who is telling them, and what do we ask with the language we have?[3]

Love most clearly expresses being in relation to and with; “knowing something is bound to how we develop a relationship with it.”[4] The way we understand, view, engage with, deploy and value concepts and practices of language and knowledge reveals our attitude. An attitude of love values the interconnectedness of ourselves to each other and to a bigger universal presence, making possible “an epistemology of spirit” as described by scholar Manulani Aluli Meyer.[5]

Ko au te au / I am the ocean begins with a mihi whakatau by Dr Valance Smith followed by short presentations on each kaupapa by three invited conversation partners: Ioana Gordon-Smith on knowledge, Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua with Ara Ariki Houkamauon language, and Bruce E. Phillips on love. Local historian, storyteller and orator Pita Turei will lead a hīkoi focusing on the now hidden waterways and springs around central Auckland. Facilitator and art educator Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi will lead a group session to discuss and decide the protocols to guide the following day’s enquiry into the kaupapa. The evening ends with a screening of TERROR NULLIUS by Soda_Jerk, followed by a shared meal. 

The 2018 symposium is the first public phase of the collective enquiry titled Two Oceans at Once—named from a story by Eduardo Galeano, where he retells the commonly known history of the world in 600 short episodes.[6] Two Oceans at Once takes on the impetus of retelling within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, where 2018 is the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage, and 2019 is the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Captain James Cook. The Symposium and the collective enquiry reflect our constant state of becoming, and "coming into relationship with" our context, as embodied by manaakitanga and whakawhanaungatanga. In this enquiry, attending to both local and global contexts and questioning established thinking and practices, the intention is to activate structural and programmatic change within dominant institutionalised attitudes and their manifest inequity.

For the programme see the Facebook page or contact gallery director Charlotte Huddleston: charlotte.huddleston [​at​] aut.ac.nz


[1] Here kaupapa is used in multiple senses encompassed by the word and its translation into English: platform, layer, topic, purpose, scheme, programme, raft. See John C. Moorfield, Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary: maoridictionary.co.nz

[2] Moana Jackson, "He Manawa Whenua" in He Manawa Conference Proceedings: Inaugural Issue, edited by Leonie Pihema, Herearoha Skipper and Jilian Tipene, 62. Hamilton: Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato, 2015. Accessed 5 April 2018 issuu.com/tekotahi.

[3] Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, London: J. Currey; Portsmouth, N.H. : Heinemann, 1986.

[4] Manulani Aluli Meyer, "Indigenous and authentic: Hawaiian epistemology and the triangulation of meaning," in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, Sage Publications 2008/2014 (online), 11. Accessed 22 March 2018 dx.doi.org

[5] Meyer, 4.

[6] Eduardo Galeano, "Americans" in Mirrors: Stories of almost everyone, Trans. Mark Fried, New York: Nation Books, 2009.

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July 23, 2018

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