• Shannon Te Ao

Hopkinson Mossman is pleased to announce the gallery's participation at Art Basel Hong Kong, presenting a new film by Shannon Te Ao in the Discoveries sector.

Te Ao’s elegiac new film, what was or could be today (again) (2019), depicts a single female protagonist swimming in Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest body of water, Taupō-nui-a-Tia (Lake Taupō). The film is shot near the township of Turangi at a site depicted by the artist’s grandmother in a painting. Painted toward the end of her life, the work is a picturesque vision of ancestral land at odds with reality.

what was or could be today (again) features an original song developed by Te Ao in collaboration with Kurt Komene (Te Atiawa, Taranaki Whānui), drawing on a number of Māori lyrical sources such as whakataukī and waiata, that serves as the soundtrack for the film. The song has been through various processes of translation, and the final version is performed in te reo Māori by Te Awhina Kaiwai-Wanikau (Ngāti Tūwharetoa).

Slow-paced and haunting, what was or could be today (again) traces moments of transition and transformation; the landscape is captured at dawn or dusk and the swimming figure is obscured, almost abstracted, with an acute focus on the limits of the body as it moves through dark water.

Shannon Te Ao (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) was born in Sydney in 1978, graduated with a BFA (Hons) from University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2009, and with a MFA (First Class Honours) from the College of Creative Arts at Massey University Wellington in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include: my life as a tunnel, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2018); my life as a tunnel, The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington (2018); With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods, The Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, and Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (2017); Tenei ao kawa nei, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (2017); Two shoots that stretch far out, Taipei Contemporary Art Centre (2017); Te huka o te tai, Artspace, Auckland (2017); Untitled (McCahon House Studies), City Gallery Wellington (2017); Untitled (malady), Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington (2016); and A torch and a light (cover), Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (2015). Te Ao's work has been included in group exhibitions both within New Zealand and internationally, including: The Subject in the Land, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2016); and You Imagine What You Desire, 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014). In 2016 Te Ao was nominated for and awarded the Walters Prize.

Hopkinson Mossman and Shannon Te Ao would like to acknowledge the generous support of Creative New Zealand toi Aotearoa and Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University.

For Art Basel Hong Kong visitor information click here.


Hall 1, Stand 1C45

  • Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • 1 Expo Dr, Wan Chai
  • Hong Kong