Becky Nunes graduated with a BA in film and literature from Warwick University, England. Nunes also holds an MFA in photography, 1st class Honours, from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. She is an NZIPP master of photography. Nunes is a founding member of photography collective Tangent. In her previous role as respected commercial and editorial photographer, Nunes has worked with numerous publishers, designers and advertising agencies. Her images have won awards and been published locally and overseas. Her personal work is held in several public and private collections. Most recently Nunes has completed a feature-length documentary film This Air is a Material (2016), examining the life and work of photographic artist Ann Shelton. Nunes is currently Head of Department: Photo Media at Whitecliffe College in Auckland, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Recent projects

The concept of tapu is one that can easily be relegated to historical or religious spheres of interest, as if a sacred state cannot co-exist with our modern daily life.

States of tapu and noa (the sacred and the earthly) are not side-notes to our lives however. Knowingly or unknowingly we can breach the fragile covenants that exist in human relations and between humans and the natural and spiritual world. These breaches might occur at a personal level, or on a more global and ecological one.

It has been suggested that tapu and noa are not fixed states, but fluid and non-lineal, and that human action and ritual are essential in achieving a balance between them. As a covenant can be broken, so can it be mended.

Becky Nunes. 2014

The Graveyard Snail

The Graveyard Snail was created as part of the larger Co-orbital project.

 This work has hinged on a series of visits to a single place and a process of co-authorship; an openness to what has been offered up at each visit. The site is Grafton Gully in Auckland, Aotearoa-New Zealand. A transitional landscape that has registered our varying preoccupations with nature, death and the movement of people and things. Drilling back into the timeline of this place reveals a series of excavations, modifications, transgressions and re-purposings.

In this place I am at once observer and catalyst, forager and witness. Images and text form a virtual (online) artist book. This provides some insight into the provenance of the objects and the ways in which they orbit and intersect each other, opening out interpretations of the larger photographs and moving image that form the Co-orbital project.

Becky Nunes. 2014

Tongariro Power

Tongariro Power was shot in 1970 for the NZ National Film Unit by Martin Barriball, and directed by Conon Fraser. Their energetic and well-crafted film documents the immense feat of engineering and construction of the Tongariro Power Scheme (TPS), channeling hundreds of waterways from their existing trajectories into the tunnels and pipes that feed the hydro-electric dam systems.

 I have extracted many small moments from Fraser’s film, allowing them to build into their own cinematic narratives and tropes, riffing on the Hollywood cowboy, B-grade sci-fi, 70’s porn and Freudian subtexts. This sequence of extracted frames proposes a feminized and fetishized reading of the male gaze, re-directed as it is onto itself.

 Accompanying these appropriations the zine contains a series of accidentally erotic portraits extracted from the film. This zine celebrates the unashamed machismo of the modernist era. Large scale engineering projects, big rigs and dangerous underground tunneling were the domain of these men within the context of pioneering post-colonial New Zealand. The extraction and re-contextualising of these portraits opens up voyeuristic hetero and homoerotic subtexts alongside questions of cultural identity and land commodification in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Film projects
Ann Shelton left her hometown of Timaru in the 80’s on a mission. Her seminal project Redeye captured the zeitgeist of Auckland in the 90’s, and catapulted her to public notoriety. Ann has made many rich and complex bodies of work that unearth local mythologies, “ghosted” stories and characters and narratives previously written out of history. This Air is a Material deepens the understanding of this important artist & her work. With interviews, high quality footage of Ann’s artwork and archival imagery, the documentary not only illuminates her practice but also the small towns, urban myths and creative communities that shaped it.

2016. 52' HD Video
Produced and directed by Becky Nunes.

This short film documents a site-specific performance choreographed and commissioned by Shelton as part of the Enjoy Feminisms series in 2015. The work celebrates Nancy Martin, a single academic and musician who in Wellington in 1957 became the first single woman to take out a mortgage. The house was designed by Frederick Ost, a German Jew refuge from Hitler’s Europe. Shelton talks about the house itself displacing photography in the performance that forms the heart of the project. Shelton commissioned a ghostwriter to write a contemporary narrative that obliquely refers to Martin’s life. The film brings together Shelton’s publication, A Spoonful of Sugar, the performance in the space and the spoken narrative.      

2015. 6' HD Video
Produced and directed by Becky Nunes.

The photo-book has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years. Combined with on-demand publishing it now offers photographers unprecedented and often unmediated access to audiences for their work. Made by Tangent Photo Collective, this short documentary charts some of the key moments in the history of the photo book in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The film, however, foregrounds the now: a slice of contemporary book making in the early 21st Century. It aims to intrigue, inspire and provoke debate around a medium that, in the Pacific at least, is still in its teenage years.

Pictures on Paper: Talking New Zealand Photobooks.
 2015. 6' HD Video
Produced and directed by Tangent Photography Collective.
Mau Moko: The World of Māori Tattoo

“These are impressive and moving images, which deserve exhibition simply in their own right. More than that, they place moko in a contemporary context, expressing the art as a living, relevant force in our culture and not some struggling remnant of a distant past. They strongly counter the negative connotations of moko.”

Hamish Keith, Art Historian. 2009

In December 2007 Penguin Books published “Mau Moko, The World Of Maori Tattoo”. The result of several years’ research, the book explores the cultural and spiritual issues around ta moko, and relates the stories of its wearers and practitioners. “Mau Moko” was authored by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Linda Waimarie Nikora with contemporary portraits photographed by Becky Nunes.

Selected recent exhibitions and screenings


This Air is a Material screening & artist talk: Christchurch City Art gallery. April 17th

Triangulated Agency and Co-authorship in a Photographic Practice. ArtMatters April 2018 published by Auckland City Art Gallery


Pyrite. (B. Nunes. 2017 600x400 digital composite/Dibond)Finalist and Travelling exhibition: Wallace Art Awards

This Air is a Material screening: ARC Theatre, National Film and sound Archive of Australia.Women in the Creative arts Research Conference, Australia National University Canberra 10-12th August 2017.

This Air is a Material screening: DocEdge Festival Auckland and Wellington May/June 2017

PAPERWORK group exhibition at DEMO Space March 23-26th

NEWPHOTOMEDIA Curated by Tangent as part of Auckland Festival of Photography group exhibition at DEMO Space June 6-12


This Air is a Material feature documentary.Premiere screening and Director Q&A:  AAG November 27th.

Pictures on Paper Tangent film productions short film, screened at PhotoBook NZ March 2016 (Massey University)

Pictures on Paper Tangent film productions short film, screened at Obscura PhotoFestival, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, August 2016