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.
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.
We’re blown away with the support for the #2girls1conference campaign currently running on PledgeMe!
Every dollar pledged is helping Leilani Kake and I with travel and participation costs for the 11th International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association in Vancouver this coming August! We’re less than $500 away from hitting our crowdfunding target with 12 days still to go. We’re hoping the #2girls1conference campaign (including crowdfunding, art t-shirt and auction) will generate a minimum of $6000 in total, so every dollar we make on PledgeMe effectively takes a little bit of pressure off our other fundraising initiatives.
We’ve had a great week generating awareness for what we’re doing; on Tuesday, Adrian Evans‘ piece in the Manukau Courier was published. We were reminiscing about our 2009 lecture tour to California and smiling about how many times we refresh the browser permanently open on PledgeMe!
On Wednesday we joined Yolande Ah Chong, the excellent and thoroughly conscious and informed host of Radio531pi‘s Breakfast with Lande show to discuss art making, Pacific audiences, leadership and crowdfunding. It was an awesome opportunity to really thrash out some of the principles and beliefs we have about why Pacific art and South Auckland are important.
The #2girls1conference T-shirt is getting lovingly hand-printed next week using Manukau Institute of Technology’s excellent print studio facilities at the Faculty of Creative Arts. Tepora Malo, a third year student completing the Bachelor of Creative Arts programme, has been an excellent collaborator and intern on this project. We’re excited to be working under her leadership in the printing process.
And we’re absolutely humbled by the generosity of our artist friends who have committed works for our auction! We have some AMAZING pieces that have been part of recent South Auckland and Pacific Art History! A stunning large scale unframed photograph by Tanu Gago, part of his Avanoa o Tama (2012) series and a beautiful suite of video stills from Rebecca Ann Hobbs’ work, Otara at Night. Painters Margaret Aull and Nigel Borell have also donated works and the invitation to make or donate works for the cause also inspired this beautiful collaboration between Molly Rangiwai McHale and Luisa Tora!
Every dollar raised in the #2girls1conference campaign is making us feel more and more excited and empowered knowing that our papers at the Pacific Arts Association in August are supported with massive love and investment from our networks!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
To keep up to date on #2girls1conference campaign and our journey to the PAA, connect on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe to PimpiKnows.com for email updates!
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.