Sandy Wakefield

Tāwhirimātea (2019)

11 min 16 secSingle channel / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

Sandy Wakefield's Tāwhirimātea (2019) reimagines the pūrākau of the mighty Tāwhirimātea (god of the wind) through a surreal montage of educational films, B-grade sci-fi, pro-nuclear propaganda, television advertisements and a pulsing, immersive soundtrack. The work’s visual source material comes from the Prelinger Archives, a collection of moving image ephemera based in the United States. Its narrative is an emotional trajectory that follows Ranginui and Papatūānuku's youngest child as he wreaks vengeance on the siblings that split apart their parents. Says the artist:

The Māori creation story begins with the separation of Ranginui, the Sky Father and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. The couple came to exist in the darkness and held one another in a tight embrace. They had many sons who were held between them without light. One day, their children, tired of living in the darkness, decided to tear them apart—bringing light and brightness into the world. Tāne Mahuta (god of the forests) pushed up against Ranginui until he was ripped away from Papatuanuku, and planted giant trees to keep his parents apart forever.

All of Ranginui and Papatūānuku’s children seemed to be in agreement that this was the best thing to do—except for Tāwhirimātea, who was not at all pleased with his brothers’ collective decision. Tāwhirimātea drew upon all his forces to retaliate against his siblings. He created clouds and released storms that would wreak havoc in all of his brothers’ terrains. Tāwhirimātea became so enraged by the cruel separation of his parents that he tore out his eyes and threw them across the sky. As these made their way into the heavens, they positioned themselves to make the twinkling cluster that appears in the sky during the winter months in Aotearoa New Zealand. His eyes have looked down on us ever since as the star cluster of Matariki.

Other works by Sandy Wakefield

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