Sunde chose Aotearoa as the location for the eigth work in the 36.5 series due to its stark difference form previous locations, severity of the crisis of sea level rise facing the nation, and starkly different perception of the natural world than that which is held by the Western world.
When doing early research for the project in Aotearoa, Sunde was struck by the significance of the sunken continent of Zealandia and the rapidity at which pacific islands are facing the effects of global rising water levels. Soon thereafter, she learned about Polynesian navigation and the ingenuity of the first people to arrive in Aotearoa. This iteration of 36.5 involved deeply meaningful collaboration with Indigenous communities in the area, which influenced how Sunde built this performance and the subsequent one in New York, as well as paradigms she holds about the work, climate change, and the natural world in general.
The strength and resilience of the Māori people is awe-inspiring. From an international perspective, Aotearoa is leading the way in conversations around conservation, respect for waters, and the more-than-human world. Sunde’s partners at AUT and Te Uru Gallery suggested the Manukau Harbour as the site she should build the 36.5 performance on, as it is under-represented in the greater Tāmaki Makaurau area.
Sunde arrived in Aotearoa on March 3, 2020 and spent three wonderful weeks searching for the specific spot to stand, meeting people, building a team and developing the project on the ground with wonderful collaborators. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had just begun spreading around the world and was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. On March 25, just four days before the originally scheduled performance, the country went into lockdown.
Sunde returned home to New York City immediately. Shortly after, she gave an artist talk at Penn during the spring of 2020, which can be listened to here.
On May 2, 2022, the borders opened again after 2+ years. Sunde travelled back to Aotearoa on May 3 and the performance took place on May 16, 2022.
Prior to the orginally planned 2020 performance, a solo exhibit at Te Uru Wāitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, opened on February, 22, 2020 and ran through July 5, 2020. Each durational video artwork was shown as a two-channel video installation, looped, over the course of a month:
36.5 / North Sea
36.5 / Bay of Bengal
36.5 / Bay of All Saints
36.5 / Bodo Inlet
For more information on the Te Uru Gallery, visit their website. You can also read more about the initially planned performance in 2020 here and view the video of Phase 1 of the work on the process page here.
36.5 / Te Manukanukatanga ō Hoturoa is dedicated to Tavalea Fanguna.