The PIMPImanifesto was devised as a result of the 2017 Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies artist residency programme, delivered with support from The Physics Room. It is intended as a set of principles that guide the practice of artist-curator, Ema Tavola.
Tavola acknowledges the shared knowledge of her Brains Trust, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake and Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai, along with other inspiring and mind-altering allies. The PIMPImanifesto references the 23 letters of the standard Fijian alphabet.
The graphic interpretation of the PIMPImanifesto was designed by Nicole Lim for the exhibition, Kaitani at The Physics Room.
Colonisation has used culture as a weapon. Reclaim the language that is the medium of culture. Reclaim the authorship of our cultural narratives, as they exist today, re-write and reposition our historical trajectories. Confront and subvert colonisation’s perverse grip on the knowledge of our bodies and relationships, our gods and spirits, our seas, skies and lands. Write our diaspora into the continuum of Oceania, and her people.
Find the ones who make your thoughts multiply and self-destruct. Find the trust to explore the furthest fields of fantasy and fiction. Find the ones whose words reduce your mind to tears, the ones whose emotional intelligence is pure and human, and real, and free. Trust them, consult with them, arm yourself with them.
Children are life. They are time, and curiosity, and innocence, and show us humanity every minute we are privileged to share their space. Children are always / should always be accepted, embraced, fed, loved, and considered as an integral part of art that reflects life.
The diversity agenda is a sham. Presence isn’t power; it is too often purely transactional. Social inclusion is genuine power sharing from top down, and shifts the game.
Mothers, sisters, aunties, dealers. Teachers, kids, storekeepers, writers, ministers, pimps, book keepers, nuns. Farmers, weavers, flower arrangers, cooks. Publicists, rugby players, barwomen, cops. Dog groomers, analysts, politicians… bean counters, youth workers, therapists, grandmothers, market vendors, rich men, poor men. Holistically, everyone has the potential to be part of your art ecology.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” John 6:35
Never underestimate the ceremony of food.
Always understand who is making decisions that affect you. Who is accountable and why? What are their responsibilities? Where do their loyalties lie? Govern like your whole village is watching. Like every decision you influence has the potential to change the course of history. Nurture relationships, and listen, and learn to live inside and outside of the system.
Acquaint yourself in the space between us and them.
Judgement can be traumatic and is always personal. Know what/which/whose judgement counts. Where does it come from? What framework do they subscribe to?
Judgement → Forgiveness → Healing
A protocol of context, of respect, of boundaries. With or without organised religion, karakia and prayer are a spiritual coming together, a tribute, a focus. A declaration of common purpose. Take time for karakia, always.
Love is action. It is rooted in our languages, cultures and rituals. It is unconditional.
Enable mothers. Always. Enable primary parents. Enable those who balance extraordinary pressures, demands, loyalties, responsibilities… and art. Understand that creative souls don’t disappear, but take time to manifest externally whilst energies are necessarily diverted toward growing humans. And mothering can and often does deepen and intensify the language of heart and thought, and the skills of patience and persistence, tolerance and resilience.
Talk story often. Listen to what is revealed. And question what narratives define your positionality, re-think them. Re-author them.
Re-think names and naming, size and scale, definitions and man-made lines in the ocean. Read Hau’ofa and Teaiwa and Māhina, and literature intoxicated with sea salt and ancestral soil. When disorientated, go back to the sea.
Acknowledge everything that comes with our presence. Presence isn’t power, but presence disjoints the normative settings that define our [in-]visibility. Enable mutual discovery and exploration. Where history has embedded exclusivity, presence requires structures to shift.
Make allies in the margins. Understand Human Rights in quiet spaces. Understand oppression, and the multiplicity of oppression: understand power.
It is everything between you and me, your histories and my histories, your spirits and my spirits. Build and bond, respect and reciprocate. Confront and resist language and behaviours saturated in colonial residue. Be the change we need.
Listen for the silence. It speaks volumes.
Talanoa is a process of conflict resolution, a protocol of listening and receiving knowledge. It acknowledges the participants and all they bring. A space where agency is transparent.
De-mythologise the presence of Pacific art, cultures and people in dominant culture spaces.
In rough seas, fix your eyes on the vunilagi for stability.
Sivia yani na Vunilagi, go beyond the horizon and let it bring you home to heal.
In the ritual of recitation, whakapapa plants you here. It articulates your trajectory, enabling deeper conviction in the present. We walk backwards into the future. Understand what ties you to the Universe, what super-human and genealogical inheritance sits within your bones.
Your foundation defines your ancestral presence, your belonging. It is your origin, your entitlement. It is your inextricable ‘us’ that speaks to everyone who has come before. Return often.