Posts from the ‘PIMPI Exhibitions’ category

I’m working with an awe-inspiring group of women on a curatorial project for the 4th International Biennale of Casablanca. A successful grant application from Creative New Zealand was announced earlier this month, and we came together this past weekend to talanoa in real time.

The working title of the project is A Maternal Lens, it will include new work by Margaret Aull, Leilani Kake, Julia Mage’au Gray, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Vaimaila Urale. The exhibition project will open in Casablanca, Morocco in late October.

I’ll write more in the coming months about this project – it’s hearty. I just wanted to share that this weekend’s wānanga in Whaingaroa was filled with the sounds of the ocean and bush, the energy of an exquisite sunset and life-giving sunrise; it was restorative and invigorating. We missed Julia, who was in Australia making marks, but I’m feeling so positive about this project and its unique approach that privileges the roles of mothers / parents (M is for Mothers in the PIMPImanifesto).

I can’t wait to see it come together.

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Hello, my name is Vinesh opens this weekend at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery as the first exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series. Photographer, Vinesh Kumaran and I have been working together on projects for more than a decade!

The first exhibition I produced with Vinesh’s work was called (Re)Locating Home, a group show that was  staged in Suva, Fiji and at Fresh Gallery Ōtara in 2006. Vinesh’s work was a single wall-mounted image and a beautiful book of photographs documenting a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to South Auckland. I witnessed his work drawing people in, sharing insights to a journey many would only dream of.

Vinesh and I have since collaborated on photographs for exhibitions, public display, publications and online galleries, but this is the first time we’ve made an exhibition about photographs Vinesh took on an iPhone!

Hello, my name is Vinesh is a title devised over a few drinks with Vinesh, designer Edgar Melitao and curator Nigel Borell. The original concept for the exhibition was developed for Māngere Arts Centre but the exhibition didn’t eventuate. Using the impressive artistic direction of Edgar Melitao and a tag team of curators, we had hoped to help Vinesh realise this important project in the most beautiful way, symbolically in the neighbourhood he grew up in.

One year on, Hello, my name is Vinesh has been re-born, produced by just me, but informed by those initial brainstorms with the Vinesh Kumaran dream team! This special show breathes life into the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series as the first exhibition of the series. It is a complete privilege to help see this exhibition come to life and we are both super grateful for the support of the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.

Hello, my name is Vinesh opens at 6pm on Saturday 17 June and runs from Monday – Friday, 7am – 3pm and Saturdays, 9am – 2pm, until Friday 7 July at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, 507 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland.

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In the age of Insta-challenges, selfies and the social currency of the click-like-share economy, visual culture can momentarily engage a seemingly infinite audience in a singular moment between photographer, lens and subject – viewer, screen and device.

In 2014, South Auckland-based photographer Vinesh Kumaran set himself the challenge of using his iPhone to shoot and share a portrait a day via photo-sharing app, Instagram. Initially conceived as a means to keep creatively active between commercial jobs, the project became a daily ritual, a visual discipline and public obsession that engaged new and diverse audiences with each new addition.

The impressive series was made over 365 days; it traces Kumaran’s footprints across Auckland, to the Far North and Sāmoa, around Aotearoa and deep into the nooks and crannies of his home suburb of Māngere. Through the square lens of Instagram, we encounter people and spaces, roller doors and weatherboards, living rooms, bikes, balls, mangroves… mats, scooters, bus stops…radiant juxtapositions and intriguing suburban camouflage.

In captions that accompany the portraits, each subject is credited; their name and age, where they live and sometimes where they are originally from. In short quotes that follow, the subject’s voice elevates the image and demystifies the gaze. Kumaran has approached strangers in the street, human to human, eye to eye; the quotes are sometimes secrets and sometimes mundane, but represent the space between the artist, the camera and the subject, and exist as the residue of the encounter.

Kumaran developed a keen interest in portraiture from documenting a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to Aotearoa. The experience helped form an acute awareness of the power of the lens and the position of the photographer. His ability to manoeuvre through cultural difference, to find a common moment of connection has come to be a defining feature of his work, and the power of this common ground is most evident in projects that reflect and respond to his own lived experience.

“Open All Hours” series (2013) by Vinesh Kumaran

Open All Hours (2013), a series of portraits of dairy shop owners behind their counters, draws on Kumaran’s own experience of working in his family dairy. An experimental body of work documenting sugarcane farmers at the start of their days was made in Ba, the small town in rural Viti Levu, Fiji, where he grew up.

In his 2014-15 Instagram portrait project, Kumaran didn’t set out to create a ‘Humans of South Auckland’ type archive; the people of South Auckland so heavily represented in the series are a reflection of the artist’s life. He lives in Māngere, visits friends and relatives, shops and strolls in Papatoetoe, Manukau, Manurewa, Ōtāhuhu. The people he has encountered paint a rich picture of the region’s enormous diversity, connected by the common ground of being here, now. It is perhaps a timely depiction of a community in transition, where creeping gentrification and the inevitable displacement and resulting cultural shift, are redefining South Auckland every day.

This article was originally published in Art New Zealand (Issue 156, Summer 2015-16)

Hello, my name is Vinesh is a solo exhibition consisting of 74 Instagram portraits made between 2014-15. The exhibition opens the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series, supported by the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board and produced for Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Ōtāhuhu. Find out more here.

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The third exhibition in the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series takes its name from the title track of Sade’s concept album Lovers Rock.

For curator, Ema Tavola, the lyrics and melodies of the album formed the soundtrack of a period of awakening, of flipping the script and transforming youthful anxiety and torturous and media-saturated negative self-image to powerful, self empowerment. It was played on CDs, contemplated on worn mattresses, in humid afternoons and rainstorms; it was the music that fuelled the decision to leave home and embark on the adventure of moving to Aotearoa.

This exhibition, Lovers Rock, is an homage to radical, transformative self love.

It is a tragedy that the act of truly loving the bodies we inhabit is a form of rebellion, a political position, a choice to consciously reject the media messaging that attaches worth and value to prescribed and narrow ideals that often don’t match our physical and environmental realities.

As pathways and platforms to perform and engage in the act of self love, artists explore, reclaim and unpack the politics of the gaze, unapologetically centralising the brown body, in the frame, in the centre; creating visibility where it didn’t exist. Lovers Rock taps into the necessary re-authoring of the narrative of brown bodies, unburdening the language of our curves and textures, our rhythms and shade.

Practices in Self-Love is the exhibition’s public programme event. In a unique Pecha Kucha inspired sharing format, the exhibition’s artists will share personal approaches for channeling self love and practicing self care. All welcome!

Image credit: Invisible series (2016) by Julia Mage’au Gray

Lovers Rock

Featuring: Melissa Cole, Julia Mage’au Gray, Pati Solomona Tyrell, Serene Timeteo, Jacinda Pini
Opening: 6pm, Saturday 29 July
Practices in Self-Love: 2pm, Saturday 5 August
Exhibition Dates: 31 July – 19 August 2017

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Courtesy of Konile Fusitua

Ōtāhuhu is changing before our eyes. Auckland’s housing crisis has shifted the appeal of our neighbourhoods and new home buyers, residents and investment are transforming the demography and commercial landscape of parts of South Auckland at an alarming rate. The second exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series confronts the inevitable cultural transformation of communities and spaces undergoing gentrification in South Auckland. Featuring local and international artists, #CHANGES presents reflections on social histories, memory and place-making, intercultural navigation and the uncomfortable relationship between gentrification and neo-colonialism.

Courtesy of Manu Vaea

In a new series of illustrations, Manu Vaea reflects on time spent growing up on “Mad Ave” in Glen Innes, an infamous neighbourhood once dubbed the “street from hell”. The area underwent redevelopment in the early 2000s and has since been re-populated and re-branded as Mount Taylor Drive, Glendowie. Vaea’s illustrations on rose-tinted metallic paper are drawn from family photographs taken between 1989-1991; they represent the comfort and familiarity of home, and the intangible memories of a place that has been erased.

Qiane Matata-Sipu is an Ihumātao-based photographer and storyteller. Her peoples’ ancestral lands have been, and continue to be, ravaged by waves of rapid change from settler confiscation and occupation to present-day rural re-zoning, the construction of massive industrial factories and a government endorsed Special Housing Area development for 500 high density homes. In a new series called Waitohu, meaning ‘to mark, signify, indicate; a symbol, brand or sign’, Matata-Sipu juxtaposes the language of signage seen in the Ihumātao area with images of land, skies and children, the inheritors of this shifting landscape. In stark and confronting layers, the fit and misfit of these elements expose the crassness of capitalist commercialisation against the mana of the whenua.

Local artist Sean Kerrigan has an aesthetic, craftsmanship and philosophical grounding that seems harder to come by in the digital age of art making. His work is the product of time and energy spent understanding, negotiating and shaping materials. His hand-scratched bedhead is emblazoned with a South Auckland alpha-mutt, a common mix derived from Pitty x Staffy (Pitbull and Staffordshire Terrier breeds), a symbol that creates an uneasily close reference to Mongrel Mob insignia. Kerrigan grew up in and around Māngere and Ōtāhuhu and has an emotional nostalgia to the way the environment shaped him, as a white man, growing up in brown neighbourhoods. His work references a mash-up of the famed JFK quote, Think not what the ghetto can do for you but FEEL, with your heart, what you can be of the ghetto. 

Courtesy of Lisiate Wolfgramm

In a series of infographic posters, Utah-based graphic artist, Lisiate Wolfgramm reflects the global footprints of the Pacific diaspora where contrasting attitudes, tensions and skillsets emerge and evolve around food and celebration, space and distance, names and pronunciation. Now globally connected via social media, the Pacific diaspora experience is documented, discussed and shared online across every social platform. Wolfgramm’s cheeky instructional diagrams serve to entertain familiar audiences, and create an honest and informative interface with others. 

In only her second exhibition, Ōtāhuhu College student Lilia Rakoia uses the architectural lines and features of Ōtāhuhu’s changing landscape in two new paintings. The landmarks and place-making of the past and future collide in a kind of Southside futurism, an exciting beginning for a young artist’s creative practice.

As the youngest artist in the exhibition, Konile Fusitua is separating his creative expression from the digital to the tangible realm for the first time. In daily postings across all his social platforms, Fusitua is an avid content creator, making portraits and compositions depicting the world he inhabits with sister Ofa Moana, the music and media they consume, and observations of South Auckland from fresh eyes having migrated to New Zealand in 2016 from Portland, Oregon, USA. Over his three hand-held-device-scaled works, Fusitua presents three accompanying garlands that symbolically bring the digital and natural worlds together in beauty and symmetry, balance and ephemerality.

Defying curatorial convention, #CHANGES curator Ema Tavola includes a concept artwork for the exhibition and its themes in the form of a paper collage entitled, Why Lady. In preparing to pursue a research residency at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, Tavola endeavours to explore the role of making, recording and idea visualisation in the act of curating. Why Lady combines references to site specificity, dominant culture / cultural dominance, and the body politics and fashioning of brown bodies and white bodies.

This exhibition aims to probe gentrification and its process of displacement and manifestation of economic privilege. In the words of locals, Ōtāhuhu is changes. There is undeniable value in the process of historically segregated communities being unnaturally thrust together, learning to live, somewhat awkwardly, side-by-side. But as the momentum of change increases, the inevitable transformation of our communities becomes less about the benefits of having better access to good coffee, but the quietly shifting dynamics of power and numbers, control and influence, agency, belonging and entitlement.

This exhibition has been produced with support from the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.

#CHANGES

Featuring: Konile Fusitua, Sean Kerrigan, Qiane Matata-Sipu, Lilia Rakoia, Ema Tavola, Manu Vaea, Lisiate Wolfgramm
Curated by Ema Tavola

Opening: 6pm, Saturday 8 July
Panel Discussion: #RealTalk – Gentrifying South Auckland: 2pm, Saturday 22 July
Exhibition Dates: 10 – 28 July 2017

Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery is located at 507 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland. Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 7am – 3pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm.

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Hello, my name is Vinesh is a solo exhibition by Māngere-based photographer, Vinesh Kumaran. Starting in 2014, Vinesh challenged himself to make a portrait a day for 365 days. The project became an obsession that led him to explore and engage with his landscape and communities in new ways every day. His approach would always start with, Hello… my name is Vinesh.

In the first exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series, Vinesh presents 74 portraits from the series, along with the stories and insights shared between photographer and subject at the moment the photograph was made. Using Instagram as a platform to upload and share the portraits, Vinesh connected the project and the people to another audience, who readily added to the narrative of each photograph with commentary and tags.

Although Vinesh has exhibited widely in New Zealand, and also in Fiji, Hello, my name is Vinesh is the artist’s first solo exhibition.

About the artist

Vinesh Kumaran was born and raised in the small rural town of Ba, Fiji and the South Auckland suburb of Mangere, New Zealand.

Pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Arts enabled his first foray into photography. His graduate work documented a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to New Zealand. The experience helped form an acute awareness of the power of the lens and the position of the photographer.

Four years at art school gave Vinesh a strong technical and critical perspective on the discipline of photography as well as a deep respect for portraiture. After graduating, he dove enthusiastically into the world of commercial photography learning with every opportunity. Committed and determined, Vinesh has established an impressive reputation and worked on notable national and international campaigns in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Vinesh has established long term relationships within the arts and cultural sectors in South Auckland, which have enabled a number of opportunities to explore and develop his portraiture portfolio. From promotional to editorial and gallery-based photography, Vinesh treats portraiture as a collaboration ultimately capturing a moment of connection.

Check out more work by Vinesh Kumaran here.

Hello, my name is Vinesh

OPENING: 6pm, Saturday 17 June
Hello, my name is… // Speed Networking Night: 6pm, Saturday 1 July
EXHIBITION: 19 June – 7 July 

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It’s the last few days of the PIMPI Winter Series, an experimental series of pop-up exhibitions produced in partnership with Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio on Auckland’s Mt Eden Road. The last day of the current show is THIS Saturday 12 September there are six works left for sale, check them out…

Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik | Noodles
420 x 594mm, Colour Accent Print on 200gsm Fuji Film Satin Finish paper (Edition of 2)

$450 [Framed]
Waiora Palalagi

… for the paper (2015)
610 x 910mm, oil on canvas
$780
Niutuiatua Lemalu

stella fella’ | is there dirt beneath the dirt?
Both 550 x 760mm, oil on canvas
$650
Niutuiatua Lemalu

MALE – Maori or Polynesian (2015)
915 x 760 x 25mm, lenticular print (Edition of 1)
$1950
Leilani Kake

** All prices in New Zealand dollars, payment via cash, bank deposit or PayPal only.
** Artwork available for collection 4pm, Saturday 12 September.

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Writing media releases is not a strength of mine. I’ve had the privilege of working with some excellent marketing heads in the past; they’ve taken my words and created digestible, broad appeal information that gives mainstream mana to projects which generally sit comfortably within the margins.

Producing a series of exhibitions in a non-conventional, central Auckland commercial space, with an agenda of selling art and engaging broad and diverse audiences, on a minimal budget, has forced me out of my comfort zone. These exhibitions couldn’t exist ‘comfortably within the margins’; they needed to be translated, positioned, re-valued… or did they?

As the PIMPI Winter Series has rolled out, the deeper purpose and complexity of what I set out to do has revealed itself to me day by day, online and off, in conversations and silent observations. In this space between commerce and creativity, the perceived margins and the centre, where skin is marked and hair is cut, the exhibitions are encountered largely unintentionally by wandering eyes, passers by, social media followers and waiting mates, spouses and children.

Partner in the PIMPI Winter Series, and owner of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, Stan Lolohea, has challenged and invigorated my thinking at every stage. Outside of the conventions of an art gallery, who are these shows for? And does increasing the net of general awareness create more genuine interest? Does an exhibition grow the scope, care and engagement between audiences, groups… does it facilitate understanding, conversation and debate across class, race, gender divides?

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It got deep at @bigwillielegacy_barber_tattoo tonight! 🌊 Stan, Leilani and I installed "That's not #PacificArt", the second group show I've curated for the #PIMPIWinterSeries featuring new and recent work by Faafeu Kapeneta, Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan and Genevieve Pini. My mind is still short-circuiting around issues of who buys, appreciates, promotes (Pacific) art, the constructed spaces that (re)define meaning, value… The money making secrets and lies around what art / artists are seen to be successful… what's the value of producing Pacific art exhibitions in a barber and tattoo studio in Mt Eden, when will Leilani and I ever open our art gallery slash art school?! So much meat (beef?), so little time! Tomorrow night join us for a drink, good music by DJ Skeez, and a reeeeelax! No heavy chit chat, just a kick back… 6-8pm, 159 Mt Eden Road, Central Awkland 🍷

A post shared by #PIMPIknows (@pimpiknows) on

 

I’ve found producing these exhibitions so completely refreshing, a total love-project with no funding, but built on the back of a strong forgiving partnership (vinaka vakalevu Stan), and carried by my family, who have shared the load (malo ‘aupito Taka, Si’i, Lini, Tu’i). I had found myself working from funding round to funding round, writing late night proposals, planning, pitching, failing… I needed to get back to the grassroots of what I love to do and flex my curatorial muscle.

DIY curating is a full To Do list most days, but the hosting, promo, multiple trips to Warehouse Stationary, the framers, finding excellent deals on good wine, getting my earth-thrills from using corn-based bioplastic cups… I’ve loved it all! But mostly, it has been a privilege to gently hustle these 12 talented and clever artists, facilitating sales for many of them, instigating new work and fresh thinking.

I’m grateful for the partnerships, support and online engagement that has pushed out the potential of these shows. To those who have bought work – thank you, and to those who have given their time and skills: Lana Lopesi, Ralph Brown, Sean Atavenitia for South Auckland Photography, Sangeeta Singh, Leilani Kake – I’m deeply grateful. Thanks also to the residents of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, Duss, Damian and Willy – I’ve been totally inspired watching you work!

The Private Views / Opening receptions for the PIMPI Winter Series have been too cool. Eclectic, diverse audiences… family, friends, colleagues, locals, South Aucklanders too! To those who travel from near and far to support these artists – thank you so much! It means a lot. Check out this badass video by South Auckland Photography:

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Here’s an interview Stan and I did with Radio New Zealand reporter, Justin Gregory, aired on Friday 7 August:

 

And there’s still ONE MORE SHOW to go!

Please join us from 6pm on Thursday 27 August at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, 159 Mt Eden Road, central Auckland to mark the opening of Know what I mean, jellybean? featuring new and recent work by Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi and Pati Solomona Tyrell – all work is for sale!

Click-Click-Follow on Instagram and Facebook for real time happenings!

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Amelia (2013)
Ana Lakusa
940x1845mm
Oil on board
NZD$1200

Check this work out in That’s not Pacific Art, the second of three exhibitions that make up the inaugural PIMPI Winter Series. The exhibition opens Thursday 6 August and runs until Wednesday 26 August at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, 159 Mt Eden Road, central Auckland.

This large scale oil painting is part of Ana Lakusa’s 2013 graduate series, From Heaven to Hell inspired by Ganglands, an American documentary series that profiled Polynesian gang life in Salt Lake City (USA). The works draw on the blurred lines between church, organised religion, loyalty, identity, family and gangsterism.

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Vineyard (2015) by Faafeu Kapeneta

Faafeu Kapeneta presents three striking new photographic works in That’s not Pacific Art, the second exhibition in the PIMPI Winter Series opening Thursday 6 August at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. I asked him about that Tongan vineyard life…

Thank you for being the only South Islander in the PIMPI Winter Series! How did you end up living and working in Marlborough and how long have you been there?

Thank you Ema for the opportunity. Long story short, my family moved to Marlborough after visiting relatives for Christmas in 2005. We have been living here for nearly 10 years now after moving away from Wellington. I’ve  been here for about a year and a half now.

The Marlborough region conjures up images of quintessential New Zealand landscapes and vineyards… the stuff of tourism billboards. Whilst Otara, South Auckland is perhaps the polar opposite of that world, there’s a similarity in the work you’re making now compared to what you made whilst living here during your degree studies. What are the things you like to capture that exist in both these disparate spaces?

I like the documentary approach to photography because I want my work to be raw and honest as it can be by not distracting the frame, purely observing and recording moments that gives people a very different Marlborough, a more grounded look at people who live and work here and not just the beautiful landscapes that the region is renowned for.

I’m thinking good jobs and limited big city distractions make working in Marlborough a pretty worthwhile opportunity for a lot of Pacific Islanders. What do you see as the benefits of working and living there, and are there things you miss or long for?

The most common thing that attracts a lot of Pacific Islanders to Marlborough was and still is the vineyard business. There are other jobs here and there but we, as Pacific Islanders living in Blenheim are renowned to be working out in the vineyards. In Marlborough, being a hot spot for tourism, you’ll likely see and meet a lot foreigners who come here for labour work. One of the benefits of living in Blenheim that I realised after moving back here was how it reminded me of my village in Tonga; countryside, quiet and slow pace lifestyle as opposed to the fast pace and noisy Auckland. There are couple of things I do miss though; the takeaways, access to Pacific Island foods such as taro or cassava and the Pacific art scene.

I’m so happy that this opportunity has inspired you to make some new work, I love what it adds to this exhibition, and to the wider PIMPI Winter Series. I’m wondering, what kind of things are on your art bucket list? What would you love to shoot, where would you love to show your work, and what kind of impact would you like your work to have?

In the near future I want to document some of the groups of Pacific Island workers who come here on a 3-6 months working Visa in the vineyards. I’m starting to look at landscape photography, and I’ve met quite a few foreigners and want to do some work with them. I want document other Pacific Island communities in other towns in the South Island and would love to show that work in South Auckland because I want people to know we exist and that you can make a good living in the smaller towns in the South Island.

That’s not Pacific Art
6-22 August
Featuring Faafeu Kapeneta, Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan and Genevieve Pini.

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. Open Mondays from 9am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-7pm. Barber and tattoo appointments and enquiries: / bigwillie.barber.tattoo.studio@gmail.com

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