The Beauty of Invisible Grief


"Running at eleven minutes and fifty-five seconds as an online video, The Beauty of Invisible Grief was originally exhibited on a video screen trapped inside a glass casing, sat on top of a wooden side table. Presented in installation as a commentary and example of ‘cultural artefact’, the work originally ran at forty-two minutes and was accompanied by layered audio recordings.

Presented completely silent in it's online counterpart, the video has a singular view, through an archway that resembles a door, or perhaps a keyhole, and reminds the viewer that their view is partial; no matter how hard and long we look, we will never see the full picture.

Here, Te Hira has cast a necklace pendant in ice, melting slowly onto her chest. Because of the placement, we can see the pace of her breath and even the mechanism of her throat as she swallows, waiting for the object to make safe passage from a hardened, tangible thing to an ungraspable elemental compound. For this work, Te Hira collected samples of water from three individual rivers of her whakapapa (genealogy). The documentation of the water is recorded by the wearer but also in the digital image and, by way of extension, by he/she who bears witness – the viewer.

For Te Hira, the translation from gallery to online video is difficult, as the physicality of the work is important to her in its communication. Still, what the online videos offer is a lesson in looking and seeing." - Tara Judah, from the essay Looking for life in a sea of loss