Posts tagged ‘#31WriteNow’

I only wrote 15 posts for the #31WriteNow blog challenge; it was hard and rewarding… but raw at times. August has been a month of travel, migraines, jet lag, art beef, heartwarming support, too many I-don’t-smoke cigrarettes, and some really exciting opportunities.

After an adrenalin-fuelled fundraising effort and a whirlwind trip to the other hemisphere, the latter half of August has been a relative return to normality. My mind has been boggling with ideas about creative ecologies after hearing a presentation by Auckland policy researcher, Elise Sterback, and I’m busily writing assignments about funding, project management and the creative capacity and potential of the South Auckland suburb of Ōtāhuhu.

A new exhibition called Pirianga Toto – Blood Ties opened at Fresh Gallery Otara; it’s a welcome return to the grassroots programming the Gallery is known for. Curated by Leilani Kake, the exhibition draws on the work of customary and contemporary Cook Islands artists and features painting, experimental installation, video, Tivaevae and crochet. Follow Fresh Gallery Otara on Facebook for public programme announcements.

Part-Fijian playwright and director Toa Fraser’s 2006 film, No.2 aired on Maori Television in late August. I used to have problems with this film but it made me surprisingly emotional to watch it again seven years later. Originally, I felt short-changed that a film loosely based on a Fijian family starred more Māori and Samoan actors than Fijians. When I watched it this time around, I felt it was actually very much a New Zealand fruit salad story; part lost, part rooted, still slightly cringe-inducing, but somewhat comforting.

I’m back on board with some really exciting MIT Faculty of Creative Arts projects coming up in the next two months and can’t wait to teach the Pacific Art Histories: An Eccentric View paper again next year. I spoke in mid-August to postgraduate students at the University of Auckland and I’m planning a gutsy talk for the Kings College Fine Art Sale speaker series in early November.

August has been a fairly transformational month. I’ve been quietly weighing up the potential of staying in Auckland against a recurrent urge to relocate back to Suva, Fiji. Getting to the Pacific Arts Association 11th International Symposium in Vancouver was almost a year long project; closing the book on that has been a welcome relief. I gave up blogging every day around mid-August, but kept on working, hustling, writing and planning.

My partner’s father, Tu’i, has been dealing to my knots, stress and aches for the past few months with Tongan massage. I usually mentally psych myself up for what can feel like a hiding in slow motion; pressure points ache and burn, and when standing, my knees feel like jelly. But today Tu’i declared, somewhat surprised, that I was OK – no knots, no tightness… no pain.

The #31WriteNow blog challenge forced me to write, declare my position and stand by my words. With almost 3,500 hits in one month, the initiative was a successful means of generating awareness, traffic and discussion. Having worked in relative isolation for the past year, hyper-blogging for 15 days was more exposure than I had anticipated – but thank you for reading, liking and sharing and hello new followers and friends!

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The last 48 hours have been a blur.

I’m in Vancouver, preparing to speak at the Pacific Arts Associational (PAA) International Symposium at the University of British Columbia this week. Leilani and my first stop from the airport was the Musqueam Indian Reserve; our savvy native tour guide, Terry Point, gave us insights into the politics of land ownership, the background of the impressive new Musqueam Recreation Centre and Cultural Centre and the loss of language. There’s something about being on native land, something that feels like home – it was the perfect way to be introduced to Vancouver.

As the speakers, energy and culture of this Symposium start to manifest around us, I’m reminded of my responses to the last gathering in 2010. I wrote this response at the time; it was inspired by a particularly disempowering experience and generated excellent conversations around the politics of this gathering and the interface of practitioners and scholars, Pacific and non-Pacific.

Whilst I’ve made my position known, and my anti-elitist, grassroots politics have the potential to rub institutional minds the wrong way, Leilani keeps reminding me why it’s important that we’re here.

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20130802-235431.jpgI’m still in the hazy aftermath of almost three months of planning and fundraising and today was a day filled with distractions. Without a car, I end up catching rides with friends and sitting in on some pretty random adventures. Yesterday I witnessed a cow running loose in Otara. Today I wiled away waiting time watching Jenna Marbles’ video “What are this” on repeat.

There’s something about being a passenger that makes me want to drink and I’m still a little bit on that celebration flow. I probably drank one can too many this afternoon before coming home for a Tongan massage from my partner’s father. I subconsciously do this – before getting tattooed or massaged – that little bit of alcohol in my system seems to amplify pain and I DON’T KNOW WHY I KEEP DOING IT.

Tu’i massages remind me of all the physiotherapy and chiropractor therapy I’ve had but harder. I’d say it’s deep tissue but it feels like sometimes he touches bone. My god, it hurts. It hurts real bad, and today it was almost unbearable. But Oh Em Gee when it’s done, I literally feel… Remarkable – like there’s electricity surging through my veins. I could honestly skip down my street; I feel ah-mazing. With my back cracked and a body fully charged with secret stores of muscle magic, I feel well prepared for this weekend’s 14-hour flight to Vancouver.

I’m thankful for Tu’i, for sharing the art of Tongan healing massage with me, and for our long broken English conversations about babies (i.e when will I produce his son’s children), work stories (a work ethic of epic proportions) and famili.

After the massage we all ate steak and watched Cops. A perfect Friday night.

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I love reading Luvvie Ajayi‘s writing and have taken up the challenge to blog everyday in August as part of her #31WriteNow challenge!

I’m always in the throws of multiple simultaneous art projects, and August will be a cocktail of travel, speaking engagements, event planning, pitching and assignment writing. I’m drawn to the #31WriteNow challenge because I’m 31 right now, and life is pretty good!

I’ve come to the tail end of the #2girls1conference fundraising campaign – an epic journey with my art ally, Leilani Kake. Through crowdfunding, hand-printed art t-shirts and an amazing art auction, we managed to raise NZ$8000 in two months! We hosted our final event last night – an opportunity for our community here in South Auckland to hear the papers we’re delivering next week at the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) 11th International Symposium in Vancouver. It was a good night – we loved situating that kind of event / discourse right at the grassroots and we’re super grateful to the Otara Scorpions for hosting us. Thanks also to Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai, the other PAA speaker from South Auckland, who also delivered her paper last night. Kolokesa is sharp as a knife; the kind of curator I’m proud to be associated with!

Leilani and I are so excited to be leaving for Canada this weekend. Despite this not being a holiday, it’ll just be nice to get out of New Zealand albeit briefly. I still want to see a bear, but I’m not sure if that will make it onto the itinerary.

I’ve been thinking about acknowledging all the people who contributed to the #2girls1conference campaign – I’m compiling the list. It’s pretty massive. I’ll be blogging everyday in August, so watch this space!

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