Taking its title from the novel The Stolen Bicycle by Taiwanese author and environmental activist Wu Ming Yi, They covered the house in stories is an exhibition that explores notions of land and place through the ecological and literary imagination. In Wu’s novel, the protagonist embarks on a search for his father’s stolen bicycle, bringing him into contact with Taiwan’s entangled histories of human and more-than-human displacement. Told through the linguistic polyphony of the region’s dialects, the novel surfaces inexplicable events and temporal dissonances that threaten the relationship between history and recollection.
Featuring newly commissioned works by Xin Cheng, Eleanor Cooper, Bridget Reweti and George Watson, They covered the house in stories embraces narrative multiplicity, examining sites of occupation to reveal the interdependence of Tāmaki’s waterway ecosystems and the lingering gaze of colonialism upon the landscape in Aotearoa and beyond.
They covered the house in stories essay by Amy Weng
About the artists
Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) is an artist and curator from Tauranga Moana. Her lens-based practice focuses on Māori histories embedded in place. Bridget is the 2020–21 Frances Hodgkins Fellow at Otago University. She has held residencies at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; the Banff Centre, Canada; The Physics Room, Ōtautahi Christchurch; and the Caselberg Trust, Ōtepoti Dunedin. Bridget has a collaborative practice with Mata Aho Collective, who since exhibiting in documenta14 have taken part in Oceania at the Royal Academy in London and the Quai Branly in Paris; the 2019 Honolulu Biennial; the international indigenous exhibition Àbadakone at the National Gallery of Canada (2020); and the Dhaka Art Summit (2020). Bridget is co-editor of ATE Journal of Māori Art, the first peer-reviewed journal of Māori art, and continues to co-curate the nationally touring exhibition Māori Moving Image: An Open Archive. Bridget has a vested interest in making space – from governance to operations to audience – for more Māori to feel safe and brave in the arts.
Eleanor Cooper is an artist and field ranger for the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai. Her practice explores ecology, land use and our interactions with the natural world. In 2019 she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (First-Class Honours) from The University of Auckland, where she previously gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy). Recent exhibitions include The rustling wind reminds me of life on Earth at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Ōtautahi Christchurch (2021); Iteration 11 at Mothermother, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2021); Flows According to Rocks at Paludal, Ōtautahi Christchurch (2020); Greywater at Mokopōpaki, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2020); Bouquet at Blue Oyster, Ōtepoti Dunedin (2020); and Prelude at Gow Langsford Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2020). She has contributed to publications including In Common (Pipi Press) and Argos Aotearoa. Eleanor has lived and worked in a number of nature reserves and is currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau.
George Watson is an artist and writer born in Tūranganui, with Ngāti Porou, Moriori and Ngāti Mutunga whakapapa. George graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2016, and a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in painting and sculpture at Wintec in 2009. George returned to Tāmaki Makaurau in 2019 after completing the Maumaus Independent Study Programme in Lisbon, Portugal. Recent work includes Eternal Girlhood of the Settler State, presented by May Fair Art Fair in collaboration with Tyson Campbell (2020), and Manawa o te kāniwha in collaboration with Abigail Aroha Jensen at Artspace Aotearoa (2021).
Xin Cheng likes to walk and do stuff around making by hand, ecology, conviviality. While living in Hamburg in 2016–19 she hosted performative talks and workshops on everyday resourcefulness in Berlin, Sheffield and Mexico City; befriended dancers, film-makers, philosophers, junk traders; wrote stories for Hainamana; made books with Materialverlag; and organised a multidisciplinary show on rubber trails. Returning to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland before a virus changed the world, she is happy to continue her making-do(ing) with old and new friends. Her works have been shown in public galleries throughout Aotearoa and at the Brno International Biennial of Graphic Design, Czech Republic; Sprint Milano, Italy; and Frappant Galerie, Hamburg. She has completed residencies in Norway, Taiwan, Cambodia, Switzerland, Korea and Japan. She was previously a co-director of the artist-run space RM in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Xin holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, Germany, and previously studied ecology, psychology and fine art at The University of Auckland.
About Amy Weng
Amy Weng is an art writer, editor and independent curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. She is the founder of Hainamana, a website dedicated to Asian New Zealand contemporary art and culture, and was the organiser of the inaugural Asian Aotearoa Artists Hui in 2017.