my life as a tunnel

Shannon Te Ao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa / New Zealander, (born Australia) born 1978



Two-channel video with sound

Duration: 568.8 seconds (9.48 minutes)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the William S. Rubin Fund

Courtesy of the artist and Mossman, Wellington



Place Made: New Zealand, Polynesia, Oceania


21st century

Object Name

Time Based Media

Research Area

Time Based Media


Not on view


"This Bitter Earth" (1959) / Music and lyrics by Clyde Otis / Originally recorded by Dinah Washington

This bitter earth

Well, what fruit it bears

What good is love

That no one shares

And if my life

is like the dust

That hides the glow of a rose

What good am I

Heaven only knows

Lord, this bitter Earth

Yes, can be so cold

Today you are young

Too soon you’re old

But while a voice

Within me cries

I’m sure someone

May answer my call

And this bitter earth

May not be so bitter after all

Te reo Māori translation by Krissi Jerram (2017)

Te pūkawa rā o te whenua

Ai auē, anā te hua

He aha te take o te aroha

Ki te kore e tohaina

Ā, me he puehu

Taku noho i te ao

E ārai ana i te rōhi mumura

He aha te take o aku mahi

Ko wai ka hua?

Aeha, te pūkawa o te whenua,

Kātahi te mākinakina

Ka tangi te pītoitoi he pēpi tonu

Ka tō te rā kua kaumatua

Ahakoa e tangi tonu nei a Roto

Kia mau ki te whakairo

Ka whakahokia mai pea he reo anō

Kāti rā, ko te pūkawa o te whenua,

E kore rā e pūkawa i te mutunga

From the 2021 exhibition Shannon Te Ao: my life as a tunnel, curated by Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art


Commissioned by The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington, New Zealand; purchased through Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington, New Zealand; sold to present collection, 2019.

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