Preston, Julieanna. Aue (formerly known as Oro Awa Waha Wai) [video]. Puke Ariki Museum, 2015.
My two-week residency in Taranaki culminated in Aue, a video shown at Puke Ariki Museum as part of the Sharing the Waiwhakaiho River, a project sponsored by Massey’s Living Lab and Intercreate.
It was not my original intention to make a video. In fact during the preceeding two months of summer I had practiced by lying down on the banks at the mouth of the Otaki River to listening and record the water and to practice emulating those sounds myself. My aim was to use my body as a mouthpiece to the river’s movement; to be its instrument of amplification. It was suppose to have been a performance that developed over a whole day, an oral sounding, a mouth-to-mouth with the Waiwhakaiho, moving along its edge, charting its salinity in search of the boundary between what is sea and what is river. This is a liminal zone much akin to the way the skin at one’s mouth changes from supple flesh punctuated by fine or coarse hairs to smooth epidermis, the vermilion border of the lips, to the moist reddish pink inner space called the oral mucosa.
I arrived at the Waiwhakahio River mouth to find a sign warning that the river was toxic to humans and animals. Do not enter. Danger.
So, I bought some waders. But then it rained fiercely for days and the riverbanks swelled with a current too swift to guarantee that I would not be bowled over. Do not enter. Danger.
So I didn’t.
Aue is a guttural lament to the river's polluted mouth. Aural soundings and moving image shape an indeterminate and enigmatic water-land-body relationship focused on the throat as an instrument for grieving over the fact that the water is not fit for entering, let alone consumption.
The words it repeats, stretches and sometimes mis-speaks as affective enunciation are loosely translated as
oro> to resound, echo, resonate
awa> river, stream, creek,
waha> mouth, entrance, gate, or even voice
wai> traditional song, water, juice, liquid
aue> to cry, howl, groan, bawl, to wail.