Posts from the ‘SOUTH’ category

A series of six photographs from the Polyfest Portrait Project is now on permanent display at Manukau Institute of Technology’s new centrally located Manukau campus! Commissioned by the Institute, the series is entitled, Portrait of a Generation. This selection was made specifically for the site – the massive exterior wall of the new campus theatre; the photographs are best viewed from outside the building on Davies Avenue.

The Polyfest Portrait Project is an ongoing photographic collaboration between Manukau Institute of Technology graduates, Vinesh Kumaran, photographer, and artist Ema Tavola.

Since 2009, they’ve set up a make-shift photo studio at the festival to document elements of personal style from bold fashion ensembles to eye-catching hair art. In a series of now over 300 photographs, the Polyfest Portrait Project captures youth in South Auckland as proud, culturally grounded and full of potential.

Vinesh and Ema worked with MIT Faculty of Creative Arts students to produce the 2014 series sharing their knowledge and experience in photography and portraiture techniques, project management and curatorial processes.

About the Artists

Pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Arts at MIT enabled Vinesh’s 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.

Studying visual arts gave Vinesh a strong technical and critical perspective on the discipline of photography as well as a deep respect for portraiture. After graduating, he moved into the commercial sector where he’s been able to work on notable national and international photographic campaigns in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. He’s currently working on a powerful series of daily portraits of individuals he encounters on his travels and within his day-to-day life living in Māngere; the entire series is shot on an iPhone and accessible via Instagram.

Ema majored in sculpture and loved contextual studies and writing. With a special interest in Pacific art and audiences, she got involved with volunteering opportunities and started working on public exhibitions and community events during her final year of study. She went on to manage Fresh Gallery Otara and held the role of Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council (later Auckland Council) from 2006-2012. Ema now works as a freelance arts manager, curator and advisor offering an annual internship to senior Creative Arts students to gain professional experience in arts project management.

Check out another selection of works from the 2014 Polyfest Portrait Project published on the NZ Herald website.

Sm PolyfestHairProject install

Hear Vinesh and Ema discussing the second manifestation of the Polyfest Portrait Project in the form of the Polyfest Hair Project that was first shown at Fresh Gallery Otara in May 2012.

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SOUTH Issue 2 (2013)
For the past six months I’ve worked with my long-time collaborator, Nigel Borell to produce a second issue of the free arts publication, SOUTH.

We established SOUTH in 2010 as co-editors and launched the first issue in January 2011 at Fresh Gallery Otara. Despite significant changes in budgets, energy and employment, Nigel persisted with the vision and Issue 2 was born. His hard work has attracted investment and financial support from Manukau Institute of Technology (Faculty of Creative Arts) and the Creative Communities Scheme, all of which has enabled me to return to the shared editorial role in a freelance capacity. We’re excited to be working with a new group of stakeholders and look forward to extending the investment opportunities for Issue 3!

Nigel and I have a close working relationship with Edgar Melitao, SOUTH’s design partner and artistic director. Choosing a front cover image is a highlight of the design and editorial process; it seems to bring everything together and galvanise the conviction of the publication.

I produced an experimental fashion editorial for SOUTH Issue 2 working with local designers Melissa Cole, Genevieve Pini and Tyrone Tautiepa. Shot on location in the South Auckland suburbs of Otara, Middlemore and Papatoetoe, the designers were challenged to research and develop, style and direct their own shoots with photographer, Vinesh Kumaran.


The SOUTH Issue 2 cover shot was styled and art directed by Otara-based Samoan artist and designer, Genevieve Pini. Pairing her own design, the Miss Lavalava skirt (featured in the 2012 Cult Couture fashion award show) with a limited edition chopped & screwed YOU LOVE MY FRESH t-shirt by Tanu Gago (a Mangere-based Samoan artist) she wanted her image to be fierce and empowered, and to represent an homage to her hood.

As a cover, this image represents the defiant and robust nature of the South Auckland arts sector: its strength, urbanity, Pacific Island cultural richness and unique vernacular. As a representation of the Pacific Island body, it is empowered, relatively unedited and unapologetically XXL. As the model and producer of this image, I love that it enabled an artist to engineer her own representation.

SOUTH is a free annual arts publication published by Toi o Manukau. It is available at art centres and libraries throughout South Auckland and at selected art spaces in the Auckland region.

Join SOUTH on Facebook to comment, share and engage with the SOUTH community.

I modeled this skirt for Otara-based Samoan artist and designer, Genevieve Pini for an experimental fashion editorial in the upcoming issue of SOUTH, coming out January 2013. Genevieve has often talked about how much she wanted the garments she created for South Auckland’s annual fashion and wearable art competition, Cult Couture, to be modeled by chunkier models. The editorial was an opportunity for each of the invited designers to present their garments, style and ideas in a way they had complete control over. Genevieve identified this alleyway near where she lives in Otara; she wanted to show her hood, her environment, her comfort zone as her inspiration. It came together really nicely and I can’t wait to see the final images in print.

With a few additions, this piece entitled Miss Lavalava was customised to fit me for the SOUTH photo shoot. The garment was made for the Recycled Revolution category of this year’s Cult Couture event. It is made of a recycled rice sack, a nylon carry-bag and meters and meters of fabric scraps. Genevieve observed the construction technique on a recent trip to Samoa where it is commonly used to make floor mats for the bathroom and doorway areas.

I also loved wearing Miss Lavalava to the 2012 Arts Pasifika Awards in Wellington earlier this month where it attracted a lot of attention! I was proud to represent an artist from South Auckland whose practice I’ve been watching and appreciating for the past 10 years.

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