A Death of Prosperity is a new commission from Mount Maunganui artist Darcell Apelu (Niue/ New Zealand European).
A feature project in the visual arts programme in this year’s Festival, discover Darcell Apelu’s monumental sculpture specially produced for Tauranga Art Gallery’s eight-metre-high atrium space. Occupying ‘prime real estate’, Apelu’s sculpture is both a satirical monument to colonisation and a functioning fountain, complete with terraced sections designed to continually channel the water down the sculpture in trickling cascades.
Apelu’s sculpture is wrapped in the text ‘you will never possess the soil, you will never be secure’ – her reversal of British colonist Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s directive: ‘Possess yourselves of the soil and you are secure’. In this way, Apelu scrutinises Wakefield’s promise of prosperity which drew her ancestors along with waves of migrants to Aotearoa. Reflecting on the past, at a time when ‘ownership’ for many is unattainable, the artwork invites us to reconsider our perceptions of security, value and guardianship (kaitiakitanga).
First presented in 2020 by Te Tuhi (Auckland), this upscaled presentation of A Death of Prosperity has been developed for the Tauranga Arts Festival by Supercut Projects in partnership with Tauranga Art Gallery and is funded by Creative New Zealand. It joins a series of visual arts projects around the city centre and can also be found on the free-to-download CITY ART WALK app.
Apelu completed her Master of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology in 2013 and currently teaches at Toi Ohomai. Apelu’s sculpture will be a lead project for the Tauranga Arts Festival.
Image: A Death of Prosperity, 2020 (installation view). Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett