Posts tagged ‘Auckland’

2017 was a year of hard hustle! Through five curatorial projects and a solo show, a three month residency with a three year old, a little bit of heartbreak and a manifesto, these are a few of the stand-out memories of 2017…

Researching Pacific artists + creative entrepreneurship

In a short research project commissioned by British Council New Zealand and Tautai Trust, I had the opportunity to undertake a series of in-depth interviews with Pacific artists in Auckland who work full-time as creative professionals. With the hope of feeding into the development of a customised capacity building programme, interviewees shared vital insights towards understanding the struggles and opportunities of finding the sweet spot between financial sustainability whilst maintaining artistic and cultural integrity.

“Still trying to find a way to operate within a framework that doesn’t care too much whether we’re there or not.” ~ PCE Needs Analysis Interviewee

The research was revealing, and sobering. The work that Pacific creative entrepreneurs do amazes and inspires me; many projects have deep cultural significance and have been personally and emotionally transformative. It’s the kind of work that I think many people would never imagine being paid to do, which reminded me again of the privilege of being attuned to one’s creative potential, and the privilege of public funding that enables so much of this enquiry. For many Pacific artists, a creative practice is unavoidably a community and collective pursuit, so the benefits are rarely for individual gains.

The challenges of being undervalued, structural racism, discrimination and stereotyping and a disregard for the Pacific creative process, are lingering issues surrounding many practitioners. Sometimes, the organisations and clients who benefit the most from the cultural integrity of Pacific artists, are the worst offenders.

The impact of this research for me personally has been significant. As an arts manager and curator, I understand more about my peers and our realities, the value of building and nurturing communities of practice, the powerful potential of collaboration and the vital roles Pacific artists play in the social, political and economic development of our Pacific communities.

Hello, my name is Vinesh

Having worked together on projects for more than a decade, I loved curating Vinesh Kumaran’s first solo exhibition, Hello, my name is Vinesh this year as the first exhibition in the PIMPI Winter Series. From 2015-16, Kumaran shot and shared a portrait a day, made in and around his work and rest time, in South Auckland and beyond. He had wanted to hone and test his skills and passion for portraiture, and throughout the year, his photographs and their narrative weight grew stronger and stronger. The Instagram format helped to perfectly curate the series and as the collection grew, the audience for his work diversified and deepened in their engagement. The series was originally intended for a large scale exhibition at Mangere Arts Centre but translated beautifully to Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Ōtāhuhu, produced with support from the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.

Employing the same approach, Vinesh went on to shoot a series of portraits for Paperboy magazine, featuring on the front cover of the 7-13 September issue. Working together again, we have another project in the pipeline for 2018 profiling individuals involved in creative and commercial businesses in the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu area. Watch this space!

The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness

Exhibiting with two of my closest friends, Margaret Aull and Leilani Kake, was one of my favourite exhibition experiences. We encouraged and supported each other, shared ideas and individually produced cohesive bodies of work that seemed to complement each other effortlessly.

The exhibition was produced for Olly, the coffee and donut shop co-owned by Chlöe Swarbrick, who went on to be a hugely valuable addition to the New Zealand Green Party in the 2017 general election. The exhibition was inspired by and produced to tautoko this young politician who rose to notoriety for her courageous bid for the Auckland mayoralty in the 2016 local government elections. The last painting in my Poedua series was eventually traded with Sāmoan tattoo practitioner, Tyla Vaeau-Ta’ufo’ou who gave me a beautiful custom piece based on the leaves of the Tavola tree (Terminalia catappa).

Tā-Vā (Time-Space) Theory of Reality in Māngere

In July, the esteemed Hūfanga Dr Ōkusitino Māhina and the Kula Uli Publishing team hosted the launch of a Special Issue of the Journal of Pacific Studies (published by Brigham Young University Hawai’i) dedicated to the Tā-Vā (Time-Space) Theory of Reality. The Māngere Arts Centre galleries were packed to capacity as the publication’s New Zealand-based contributors spoke to the influence of Māhina and how Tā-Vā (Time-Space) Theory of Reality has shaped their work and thinking.

A complex discourse between natives, fobs and academics

After a haunting intergenerational group performance of fangufangu (nose flute), the publication’s contributors responded to probing questions about the relevance and implementation of Tā-Vā (Time-Space) Theory of Reality in academia, at grassroots levels and as a lens on New Zealand national culture.

In the process of seeing Hūfanga in the midst of this highly conceptual but grounded discussion, it hit me how precious these times are – it is such a privilege to share intellectual energy and dialogue with courageous thought leaders who push boundaries and re-shape histories. The publication is a special resource, but being present within these exchanges, as Māhina put it, “a complex discourse between natives, fobs and academics“, in the cultural context of both Tongan hospitality and art, made this moment incredibly meaningful.

Konile Fusitua, a quiet muse

Through my daughter, Konile Fusitua is my 16 year old nephew. He relocated from Portland, Oregon to South Auckland last year and has spent his first full year at Papatoetoe High School. I started following Konile on Instagram and became an instant fan of his bold aesthetic, blending symbols of popular culture and Pacific cultural imagery, tracing the expansion of his world and his place within it.

Konile is constantly refining, editing and curating his Instagram feed, which I find fascinating; the chronological archive has perhaps become archaic within the philosophy of Snapchat ephemerality. I love his fascination with Gucci, and his fresh appreciation for the Pacific Island cultural saturation of Southside. I included Konile’s work in the PIMPI Winter Series exhibition, #CHANGES in July; it was his first show, and I hope, first of many.

Femslick – Akashi Fisiinaua

Photo credit: Jermaine Dean

Akashi Fisiinaua’s solo show, Femslick debuted as the first work in FAF SWAG’s 2017 residency partnership with Basement Theatre in central Auckland. In a short season that added the essential flavour of FAF SWAG to the Auckland Pride Festival programme, Fisiinaua directed a stunning audience experience as close to ball culture realness as you can get. As the chanter of FAF SWAG’s Vogue balls, Fisiinaua transitioned the role into a narrative tool that brought the electric energy of ball culture to a potent, intimate and intense theatre experience.

Fisiinaua is a recent graduate of Toi Whakaari’s renowned Performing Arts (Acting) degree programme. The technical skill, lyricism and performative awareness she brings to FAF SWAG Vogue ball culture was translated seamlessly to a theatre setting, a first iteration of iconic and disruptive storytelling that continued beautifully throughout FAF SWAG’s residency with Fa’aafa by Pati Solomona Tyrell and Neon Bootleg by Moe Laga.

The remarkable momentum of artist Pati Solomona Tyrell

Photo credit: Hōhua Ropate Kurene

Fresh out of art school, Pati Solomona Tyrell has had an incredible year! Working commercially, his photography of strong, culturally powerful Pacific Islanders has made some of the most iconic Paperboy magazine covers yet. His work as a photographer and performance artist has been shown nationally and internationally and in June, ST PAUL St Gallery staged a massive solo exhibition of his work called Fāgogo.

Through FAF SWAG, Pati has been in the engine room working on everything from event coordination, large scale photoshoots, cross-cultural collaborations, documentaries and an incredible new app that is set for release in the new year. For a young artist, this has been a wild first year of post-art-school life, but along with the massive highs, a bitter blow intended to derail his practice was dealt from an unexpected source. Fortunately, that effort was met with a significant rally of support from our communities, and the utmost respect has been thrown down for Pati as he navigates new waters. His many successes are his dignified response and his future is unbearably bright!

Twitter < IRL

This year has been the eighth year I’ve used the social media platform, but the culture of Twitter has changed for me. What was once a relatively safe space, used by a relative minority of people from everyday life, has become so mainstream in New Zealand that the same voices, tone and attitudes you might hear in mainstream media, or in the comments section of the New Zealand Herald, seem to uncomfortably eclipse with my consciousness on an all too regular basis.

There’s this interesting accusation that has arisen time and time again of brown Twitter users of existing in bubbles, a similar line of criticism of the kind of Trump-ish politics where bias, opinions and hate speech dominate facts and research. The problem with this, and it has been directed at me more than once, is that the communities we’re part of on and offline, are often communities of shared beliefs, values and likeness that create supportive networks and intellectual ecosystems. It’s disturbing to me that these vital systems of survival and support, particularly for marginalised people living in dominant culture New Zealand, are seen in such a negative light.

On Twitter, where the conversations I’m part of revolve around race, racism, everyday politics, gender, parenting, localism and cultural identity, the line between right and wrong, truth and realness, is simultaneously multi-dimensional and non-existent. I’m tired of getting into Twitter beefs with faceless handles, particularly in the case where those individuals wouldn’t approach, engage or confront me in real life.

Twitter isn’t the safe space it once was.


Pacific arts managers changing the game in 2017

I’m uplifted when I see Pacific people in positions of influence in the arts and cultural sectors in New Zealand. Pacific arts managers bring unique intercultural competencies, fresh ideas and engaged intergenerational communities. 2017 has seen some excellent appointments of Pacific arts managers across gallery management and strategic leadership, curatorial programming and events, check it out…

Ioka Magele-Suamasi
Ioka Magele-Suamasi was appointed as Learning and Outreach Manager at Auckland Art Gallery in October. She vacated the role of Outreach Coordinator which was recently secured by rising star, Jasmine Te Hira. The role coordinating Education and Family Programmes is also now held by Emily Mafile’o.

Jep Savali
Jep Savali was appointed Entertainment Manager for SkyCity, where he had previously worked as manager of the SkyCity Theatre. Jep is bringing a distinctly Pacific awareness to the live music and entertainment that takes place within and around the venue. Recently, the notoriously entertaining, Cindy of Samoa dazzled in a sold out solo show and the annual New Years Eve party boasts an impressive programme of Pacific musicians from Che Fu and King Kapisi to Three Houses Down, Sammy J, Sons of Zion and Malcolm Lakatani.

Simonne Likio
Simonne Likio was a well-known face at Fresh Gallery Ōtara until she was appointed in a new role within the restructured Funding and Capability Services team at Creative New Zealand as a much needed Auckland-based Pacific arts funding advisor.

Margaret Aull
Margaret Aull was appointed to a new role as Curator and Gallery Manager for Te Puia and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) in November. She had previously worked as Curator and registrar of the collection of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and has just completed a year of freelancing and studying to complete a Post-Graduate Diploma of Business Management.

Clinton Hewitt
In September, Clinton Hewitt was appointed Gallery Coordinator for Fresh Gallery Ōtara, a facility of Auckland Council in the Ōtara Town Centre. Clinton studied Visual Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology after working for several years as a carver and interdisciplinary artist both in the Cook Islands and South Auckland. His company Tribal Designz specialises in customised 21st keys and ukulele.

Lana Lopesi
Lana Lopesi was appointed Editor-in-Chief at The Pantograph Punch in July. She was previously the Visual Arts Editor, and had been editor for #500Words from 2012-16.

Anapela Polataivao
Award-winning actress and director, Anapela Polataivao has taken on the role of Director of Performing Arts at Nathan Homestead, a multi-use facility of Auckland Council in Manurewa, South Auckland. The outdoor summer season of Think of a Garden by American Sāmoan playwright, John Kneubuhl opens on January 25th, tickets available here.

2018: it’s on like donkey kong

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Red Tape (2014) by Anita Jacobsen, 500x500mm, C type print, framed.

Red Tape (2014) by Anita Jacobsen, 500x500mm, C type print, framed.


Red Tape
(2014)

C type print, framed

Raised in Papakura, South Auckland, Anita Jacobsen is an Auckland-based photographer of Norwegian and Samoan descent.

In 2009 Anita completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in photography at Whitecliffe College of Art & Design, she then went on to gain a Master of Fine Arts from Whitecliffe in 2014. Anita has exhibited nationally and internationally. She was a finalist in the 22nd Annual Wallace Art Awards in 2013 and in the same year was a finalist in the Auckland Festival of Photography, and was selected for the Pingyao International Festival of Photography, in Shanxi China.

Sourced from Tautai Trust Artist Profile, read more here: http://www.tautai.org/artist/anita-jacobsen/

 

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Whilst I was in Suva last month, project managing / co-curating The Veiqia Project and the important process of embedding and grounding the project in Fiji, I started to tune into how many people were asking for meaning, as in digestible translations of the visual vocabulary of Fijian qia or tattoo markings.

The Veiqia Project is a creative research project that has engaged seven Fijian artists to uncover, encounter and respond to the practice of Fijian female tattooing through museum visits, dialogue and literature. Four of the seven artists were able to travel to Fiji to undertake research, talks and meetings and spend time with Melanesian tatu practitioner Julia Mage’au Gray (Papua New Guinea – Australia), who has been researching and reviving tatu practice from Central Province, Papua New Guinea, and developing understanding of its wider relationship to tattoo practice across Oceania.

We came across some fascinating illustrations of qia motifs and designs in the Fiji Museum library. They were recorded in the late 1800s and said to be from the province of Ra. Whilst some notes were made on what the motifs represented (from the perspective of the non-Fijian author), it feels as if meaning associated with this visual language is not something we will ever fully understand.

The artists are working hard, excavating the social, cultural, artistic contexts of the practice of veiqia / Fijian tattooing. And it’s here, meaning is made; they will each interpret their experience of uncovering  knowledge about our cultural heritage as Fijian women into new work, and it’s hoped that the exhibition will tour, evolving to include more Fijian artists and communities.

I was tattooed over the weekend by Julia in Auckland at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. She marked both my arms and hands with qia motifs and symbols we encountered in Fiji. For me, the meaning of these marks is related to revival and memory, Fijian art history and the power and prestige of an artform reserved exclusively for women and girls. These tattoos are part of my identity as a Fijian woman, as an artist, as a Melanesian. The meaning of my marks in 2015 is mine; they sit between you and me, perception and reality, art and context…

I woke up yesterday thinking, of all my tattoos, these are my most important marks. They challenge ideas about beauty and aesthetics, history and colonisation, gender and power; they visualise my position, and galvanise my love and loyalty for Fiji.

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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.

Artwork enquiries

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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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Talafungani Finau is an Ōtāhuhu-based artist whose practice is informed and embedded in contemporary Tongan culture, custom and aesthetics. Her lei artistry pushes the boundaries of wearability, edibility and love! I asked her about inspiration and observations of new materials in Tongan koloa…

Your work Hilifaki kahoa in “U Can’t Touch This” for the PIMPI Winter Series is stunning, and smells and looks delicious! Where did you get the inspiration for this work and what materials have you used?

Aww malo Ema! The inspiration derives from my recent trip to Tongatapu thanks to my mehikitanga Sela E Finau… *coughs* high status aunty* lol, where we were able to attend the Coronation (fkmalo lahi atu Ma’ata Havea… oh wait? can we do shout outs on your blog?  hehehe). If it wasn’t for these two ladies, I wouldn’t have been able to say, “I was inside the Centenary Church for the coronation ceremony of King VI, ya’ll!”.  Which is a big deal because it was invitation only. Gangstaa riiight? haha!

The materials comprised of bias fabric tape (used as the bone structure of the lei because the chocolates are pretty heavy and without the bias tape the lei would just rip apart), gold ribbon to tie the Lindt Lindor (quality milk chocolate), and clear masking tape to hold the Ferrero Confetteria Raffaello (a crisp coconut w/ almond centre). Together it forms the silhouette of the red robe worn King Tupou VI.

You’re an experienced lei maker, how did you get into it and what is your favourite style of lei to make and gift?

Well I’m from Texas, and in the States when someone achieves a milestone, we go crazy. Graduations, sweet 16, 21st birthdays, church events, and White Sundays… we honour them all. I really got into it back when I was a student at Trinity High School (T’s UP!) where our Polynesian Club sold candy leis to raise money. And the competition is real out there ya’ll. Everyone brings out their LEI-game when it comes to graduation season too, so that’s where it started for me. My signature style of lei to make is actually the big personalised candy leis with the BEST goodies, and pretty shiny wrapper foils because I like that bling bling look lol.

I love that your work in the exhibition is perishable, and begs to be eaten! It changes the kind of presence and value of your workmanship, did you consider using non-perishable materials, or does that change the meaning and mana of the idea?

Yes, I did consider making a non-perishable lei… went out and bought the materials for it too… but for me it did change the mana. I understand leis to be perishable: floral or candy. So much hard work goes into a lei, and they can’t be preserved. So whats the point? Well… that’s what love looks like. It’s so beautiful when you give and receive one; the feelings and emotions that come with it, it’s not tangible, kind of like how a lei itself isn’t forever.

There are some interesting developments in the ways particularly Tongan artists utilise modern and readily available materials available here in New Zealand to create customary items such as lei / garlands, dance costumes and kato teu – I’m particularly taken by the innovative use of plastic grapes as the basis of the new genre of kalepi style. Are there any new styles or innovations that have captured your attention, or inspired you?

This may sound hella bias, (#halacare) but my mother is known for her kalepi leis in the States… I supply her grapes from here because she says they’re better quality than what they have available there in America. Her kalepi leis are extremely detailed it’s often mistaken as the real Tongan leis from Tonga.  Much of my talent comes from her, but my hard work ethics is definitely my dad haha!  But of all the kalepi leis I’ve seen here in NZ and overseas, hers are the best and I plan on learning that from her when I go back to Texas in November. She knows her Tongan flowers really well, how the shape or form of the Tongan kahoa looks… I’ll ask her to make you one! 😉

U Can’t Touch This
16 July – 1 August
Featuring Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione

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: (09) 630 4380 / bigwillie.barber.tattoo.studio@gmail.com

Exhibition & Artwork Enquiries:

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WORKS LIST

Hilifaki kahoa (2015) SOLD
Mixed media
$50
Talafungani Finau

King George Tupou was here #1 SOLD, #2, #3 SOLD
All 2015, ink on cartridge paper, signed
$350 [Framed]

Fresh cuts (2015)
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$150 [Framed]
Sione Monu

Oki fa’akama Samoa moni lou ulu / Cut your hair like a true Samoan boy (2015)
Photograph 2014, photographer Setoga Setoga II
Edition of 5
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$3000 [Framed]

Shaving (2013)
Edition of 5
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$1200 [Unframed]
Siliga David Setoga

Green Flava in Ya Ear SOLD
Pink Supa Dupa Fly
Orange Shook Onez
Yellow Rebirth of Slick

All 2015, ink on Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton, acid-free paper
$200 each [Framed]
Daisy Tavilione

U Can’t Touch This
Curated by Ema Tavola for Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio
16 July – 1 August 2015

Artwork enquiries
Ema Tavola (Curator) | Email pimpi@pimpiknows.com | Mobile 027 5779369 | Web www.PIMPIknows.com

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Sione Monu is a Canberra-based visual artist whose first exhibition will be U Can’t Touch This, part of the PIMPI Winter Series at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. We connected on Instagram, then via email and later in person. I asked him a few questions about his work and ideas…

I came across your work via the Pacific Photobooks project – it looked like a really great opportunity to learn and network with some cool Pacific image makers. How did that experience influence your practice?

Pacific Photobooks was very major for me in networking and learning from Pacific image makers definitely. It was a series of workshops every Saturday in Sydney for Pacific Islander youth to learn from established artists of Pacific decent. We were taught how to use manual on our SLR cameras which I was surprised at how much we can manipulate how the picture comes out before even editing it on Photoshop! It was great. Also being surrounded by Poly artists and listening to them talk about their practice was very inspiring and opened my eyes to the possibilities for us young Poly artists.

Your Instagram is this beautiful archive of your work and experiences, and your selfie game is on point! Do you see digital self-portraiture as a screen-based practice? I’m wondering, do you think something is lost when these images get printed and presented as tangible things?

I love how you put it in your recent blog post where you describe my Instagram as a “gentle insight into Tongan experience in Australia’s capital city.” I’ve always been shy and introverted growing up so Instagram has been this incredible thing for me to express myself and connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise. Definitely, digital self-portraiture as a screen-based practice seems a natural progression to me especially being part of this technological generation, the possibilities are endless. I do feel something is lost when images are printed and put on a wall, behind another wall, behind a glass door. Too many walls for my liking I think haha! Though I’m sure it’s not so black and white but I just love how accessible Instagram is. I’ve connected with so many people from so many different demographics! All this from a little “selfie” app! It’s really amazing.

I’m so glad that your work is having its first showing in Aotearoa at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio for the PIMPI Winter Series! You came to Auckland recently and seemed to get a lot done! What were your impressions of the city?

Yes! I’m super excited also! My first ever exhibition! I was recently in Auckland for a great uncle’s funeral. After the funeral I contacted as many Pacific Islander artists based in Auckland that I follow on Instagram for meet ups. I had a good talk with you and Stan over a coffee and coconut ice cream which was fabulous. I got to meet many other artists based in Auckland who I admire very much. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of experiences even now I’m still trying to process it all! Auckland city was alright I guess but south Auckland really has stolen my heart. My morning runs up the local mountains was definitely one of my favourite things about my stay.  I’m actually looking to move over in the near future, and just find my own little space in this beautiful land. Thank the universe for my parents never changing my citizenship to Australian! So I’m still a kiwi y’all! Haha!

You seem to have a big Insta-fan-base with the Pacific arts community – I think there’s a general feeling that your work is fresh to death! I’m excited to see where your practice will take you, but I’m wondering, what’s your big picture, what would be your ideal art future?

My female cousins taught me early the fine art of Instagram/Facebook stalking. But I would spend my stalking sessions stalking Pacific arts people! Haha! And now I have many Pacific arts community followers thanks to my stalking skills, which is nice. What’s my big picture? Well I have keen interests in so many mediums so I’ll just keep sharing my designs, photographs, videos clips, fashion illustrations, with the world through Instagram until the universe says what’s next I guess. As for my art future, something that incorporates all my interests would be a long shot… but a girl can dream!

“King George Tupou was here #2”, one of three illustrations for sale in “U Can’t Touch This”

U Can’t Touch This
16 July – 1 August
Private View
6-8pm, Thursday 16 July
Featuring
Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione

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: (09) 630 4380 / bigwillie.barber.tattoo.studio@gmail.com

Exhibition & Artwork Enquiries:

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Media Release
9 July 2015

The head, the hair and the selfie

South Auckland curator, Ema Tavola, is bringing Pacific art to new audiences in a series of three site-specific pop-up exhibitions at a Mt Eden barber and tattoo shop.

The PIMPI Winter Series is a collaboration with Stan Lolohea, art historian, tattooist and owner of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. Three exhibitions will be shown over eight weeks featuring over 25 new works from 12 visual artists, and everything is for sale!

“We’ve joined forces to emphasise the entrepreneurial potential of Pacific art and creativity. There seem to be few opportunities for artists to show and sell experimental work, but it’s this exposure and the sales that can be generated, that can give a creative practice quite a bit of momentum,” Ema says.

The exhibitions have been developed to respond to the site and context of the barber shop, the common perceptions of what (and who) defines ‘Pacific art’, and the everyday negotiation of difference living in New Zealand’s largest and most ethnically diverse city.

The artworks will be installed in and around the busy barber shop floor, and the first exhibition of the series, U Can’t Touch This, is a special acknowledgment of the head, the hair and the selfie.

Alongside Mt Eden local, new media artist Siliga David Setoga, the show features the work of three first-time exhibitors; Talafungani Finau and Daisy Tavilione from South Auckland, and Sione Monu based in Canberra, Australia. In adornment, illustration, photography and print, each artist responds to the idea of the head, regarded in many Pacific cultures as the most sacred part of the body.

Ema believes in the quality of making art accessible and relevant, “this is artwork that doesn’t need an art gallery to define it; the work reflects everyday lives, values and shared experience. It’s current and beautiful, informed by Auckland and our place in the world.”

Meet the artists at the exhibition’s Private View events, book in for a haircut or tattoo, or just drop in for a visit. With only a four day turnaround, two more exhibitions will follow U Can’t Touch This and works lists, artist interviews, photos and commentary will be available at www.PIMPIknows.com

Exhibition details

U Can’t Touch This
Featuring: Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 16 July
Exhibition dates: 16 July – 1 August

The next exhibitions in the PIMPI Winter Series are:

That’s not Pacific Art
Featuring: Faafeu Kapeneta, Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan, Genevieve Pini
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 6 August
Exhibition dates: 6-22 August

Know what I mean, jellybean?
Featuring: Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi, Pati Solomona Tyrell
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 27 August
Exhibition dates: 27 August – 12 September

Venue

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Auckland.
Opening Hours: Monday, 9am – 6pm; Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 7pm

About Stan Lolohea

Stan Lolohea has been a practicing tattoo artist for more than 10 years working predominantly between Auckland and Melbourne. He opened Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio in 2014, a dedication to his late friend, Willie Halaifonua, an Auckland-based barber who suffered a fatal brain injury whilst playing rugby in 2013. Stan holds a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Auckland.

About Ema Tavola

From 2006-2012, Ema Tavola held the role of Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council (later Auckland Council), where she established and managed Fresh Gallery Otara producing over 60 exhibitions, three annual Pacific Arts Summits and co-editing two editions of SOUTH publication. In 2012, Ema was the first curator awarded the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Award for Contemporary Art, the same year she contributed to the curatorial vision for Home AKL, the first major survey show of Pacific artists at Auckland Art Gallery.

Under the umbrella of PIMPI (Pacific Island Management, Production and Ideas), Ema undertakes consultancy work in project and event management, research, writing and curatorial projects. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts Management from AUT University.

Exhibition enquiries

Ema Tavola (Curator)
Email pimpi@pimpiknows.com | Mobile 027 5779369 | Twitter @colourmefiji | Web http://www.PIMPIknows.com

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I’ve been dreaming about establishing another gallery in South Auckland. I love curating, I love selling art and I love collaborating with artists to make good shows that contribute to broadening awareness and understanding of Pacific ways of seeing and being in Auckland, New Zealand.

Whilst I’m hopeful my one-day gallery is in the near future, in the meantime I’ve collaborated with Tongan tattoo artist, Stan Lolohea to develop the PIMPI Winter Series: a series of three pop-up exhibitions at his Mt Eden barber and tattoo studio. We’re working with 12 artists over eight weeks facilitating the presentation of around 25 individual pieces of work, most of which has never been exhibited before, and all work is for sale!

These artists excite me! From Canberra-based Sione Monu, the Brown-Instagram-famous selfie savant, Faafeu Kapeneta, photographing the small but visible Tongan community in rural Marlborough, to visual arts students Qingze Nan, Daisy Tavilione and Pati Solomona Tyrell, each making experimental, bold work at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts in the heart of Otara, South Auckland.

I feel super privileged that for some of these artists, this is their first exhibition. Some are Pacific art regulars, whilst others have been fairly quiet on the exhibition scene. The PIMPI Winter Series has been a call to action, inspiring new work and a different context for engaging with Pacific art and ideas.

U Can’t Touch This (16 July – 1 August) features Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga and Daisy Tavilione. In the first of the series, this site specific exhibition acknowledges the head, the hair and the selfie. In Fiji, like many parts of Oceania, the head is the most sacred part of the body; in the words of Stanley Kirk Burrell, U Can’t Touch This. Situated in and around the barber shop floor, four Pacific artists have created new work about the head (literally), and the most important and sacred parts of life. In references to family portraiture and the celebratory lei (garland), there are acknowledgements of nature and culture, life and death, loved ones and idols.

That’s not Pacific Art (6 – 22 August) features Faafeu Kapeneta, ‘Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan and Genevieve Pini. Inspired by conversations around definitions, problematic terminology, authorship and belonging, this exhibition confronts popular expectations of what Pacific art is / should be. Some work deviates from direct references to identity and community, people and places, others present perplexing juxtapositions of tradition, human and geographical landscapes.

Know what I mean, jellybean? (27 August – 12 September) features Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi and Pati Solomona Tyrell. In reference to a line from the movie Blood In, Blood Out, this exhibition touches on the idea of cultural chameleonism, and the everyday negotiation of difference across and between cultural and social environments, vernacular and humour, ways of being and seeing.

Meet the artists at the PIMPI Winter Series Private Views, pick up a copy of Stan Lolohea’s essay and get in quick – artwork is priced to sell!

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio

 

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. It’s open Mondays from 9am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-7pm.

Appointments and enquiries: (09) 630 4380 / bigwillie.barber.tattoo.studio@gmail.com

 

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