The 5th Auckland Triennial Exhibition / Art Installation


NameThe 5th Auckland Triennial: If you were to live here...
Start Date10 May 2013
End Date11 August 2013
CuratorHou Hanru 侯瀚如
Organiser / VenueAuckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
ArtformVisual arts, Architecture
CityTāmaki Makaurau Auckland


Well-known Chinese curator Hou Hanru was invited by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki to develop the 5th Auckland Triennial, the 2013 edition of the (now dormant) contemporary art festival. Hou titled the Triennial, If you were to live here… and invited over 30 artists and collectives to present work around themes of home, cities, migration and imagination.

The Triennial featured both international and Aotearoa artists, and was presented at art institutions and other sites across Tāmaki Makaurau. While the programme was light on local Asian artists, a number of local Asian architects, designers and students took part in The Lab, which was described by Hou as ‘the brain’ of the Triennial. Lab contributors included Sara Lee, who designed the flexible layout of the space with Auckland University’s Mike Davis, and architects Sarosh Mulla and Melanie Pau, who led a project called 'Ideal Home(land)'.

The Triennial brought artworks from across Asia and Asian diasporas to Aotearoa, encouraging a strong and multifaceted sense of relations between Aotearoa and Asia — especially when brought to bear on the themes of migration, home, and the changing demography of Tāmaki Makaurau. These internationals included high-profile artists and designers such as Ho Tzu Nyen, Michael Lin, Atelier Bow-Wow, Zhou Tao, Ou Ning and the Bishan Commune, Do Ho Suh, Shahzia Sikander, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, and Ryoji Ikeda.

A number of these artists visited the city during the Triennial, taking part in talks and events with local artists. For example, at The Lab, the unfolding projects explored four themes developed by staff and students at nearby universities: Rural-Urban, Emergency Response and Recovery, Multicultural Impacts on Urban Transformation, and Ideal Homes and Informal Markets. Visitors Teddy Cruz, Ou Ning, Bijoy Jain and Do Ho Su exhibited work alongside The Lab, or presented their practices through public talks during their visits — resulting in a flow of ideas back and forth between these artists and local participants.

If you were to live here… was notable for its ambition to both present international contemporary art and engage deeply with local artists and local issues such as the history of specific sites around Tāmaki Makaurau, population growth, ecology, and political events such as the 2007 Te Urewera raids. In hindsight, the Triennial played a part in the reorientation that took place in the Aotearoa contemporary art scene through the 2010s, which saw artists and curators more consciously positioning Aotearoa within an Asia-Pacific context. In the Triennial, this could be seen not only in the inclusion of international Asian artists but also artists connected to Aotearoa Pacific concerns, such as Luke Willis Thompson and American artist Emory Douglas, whose work with the Black Panther Party influenced the Polynesian Panthers in Aotearoa.


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Richard Dale, 'The 5th Auckland Triennial: If You Were to Live Here...', exhibition review, Yishu 12, November/December 2013

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