Posts tagged ‘FAF SWAG’

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

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?

View this post on Instagram

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 Ema Tavola (@colourmefiji) 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!

MEDIA RELEASE
11 December 2013

fresh art logo full

A new pilot event at Fresh Gallery Otara aims to showcase the potential of creative entrepreneurship in South Auckland.

Fresh Art Market is a lively pop-up market day presenting a diverse range of creative products and services including fashion design, nail artistry, event and project management, homeware and photography alongside the more traditional paintings and prints.

Event organiser, Ema Tavola says, “Fresh Art Market is a microcosm of South Auckland’s creative ecology – our artists are not just exhibiting in galleries but earning a living in a range of ways from photographing and designing events, painting murals, facilitating workshops and creating works of art in hair and nails.”

The event is in part influenced from Tavola’s involvement with a colleague from the Indonesian city of Bandung, well regarded for its innovative creative economy. Dian Gesuri has been in New Zealand completing a Master of Arts Management degree at AUT University; the two have spent six weeks sharing ideas about creative entrepreneurship and sector development in an informal residency at Tavola’s home in South Auckland.

Gesuri will deliver a presentation at Fresh Art Market from 9 – 10am on what South Auckland can gain from harnessing creativity and community, collaboration and commerce. Her talk will introduce some inspiring models of creative entrepreneurship that have contributed to social change in Bandung.

Gesuri says, “The driving force of Bandung’s creative economy is people and community, something South Auckland is rich in; the potential for creative economic growth here is significant.”

Stallholders will be offering specials and discounts across all products and services from manicure and pedicure gift vouchers to couture garments, t-shirts, portrait photography, artworks and hand-made accessories.

Tavola says, “This is a perfect time to support local creative entrepreneurs – their products and services are priced to sell and locally designed and produced gifts and treats are an investment in our local creative economy. This will be a truly inspiring day!”

Artists / Creative Entreprenuers involved: Leah Espie Photography, FAF SWAG, Tui and Sulieti Gillies, Tepora Malo, Nesian Nails, The Roots Creative Entreprenuers, Czarina Wilson Design.

Event details
When: Saturday 14 December, 9am – 2pm
Where: Fresh Gallery Otara, 5/46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland

Contact
Ema Tavola – Event Organiser
Mb 027 5779369 / Email pimpi@pimpiknows.com / Twitter @ColourMeFiji / Web www.PimpiKnows.com

fresh art logo full

FRESH ART MARKET is a lively pop-up market day presenting a diverse range of creative practice and free public programme events at South Auckland’s notorious Fresh Gallery Otara!

The event draws together a diverse range of creative practitioners from fine artists to activists, object makers and writers to fashion designers. With everything priced to sell, FRESH ART MARKET is an ideal one stop shop for conscious, hand-made, locally designed gifts and treats!

Stall holders include: Czarina Wilson Design, Leah Espie Photography, Tui Gillies, Luisa Tora and Molly Rangiwai-McHale, Tepora Malo, The Roots Creative Entrepreneurs and more!

Throughout the day, a series of public programme events will take place alongside the Market:

From 9-10am, join visiting arts manager, Dian Ika Gesuri for an inspiring discussion on what Auckland can learn from harnessing creativity, community, collaboration, innovation and commerce, introducing some amazing models of creative entrepreneurship that contribute to social change in the city of Bandung, Indonesia.

At 11am, check out a series of short films including Luisa Tora’s “Home Videos” (2013) and join the film makers for a Q&A.

From 1-2pm, exhibiting artists Sam Afu and ‘Ahota’e’iloa Toetu’u are delivering a free painting workshop inspired by their current exhibition, Ua gau le sila, tuku ki Manono on at Fresh Gallery Otara until 21 December.

Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for updates and specials or send us an enquiry here:

October has been a bit amazing

Since September I’ve been coordinating OTARAfest, a new annual event programme produced by Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) Faculty of Creative Arts; it ran from 18 October – 2 November and the inaugural programme included 11 stand-alone events delivered in and around the Otara Town Centre.

With a focus on revitalising the Otara Town Centre and creating opportunities for artists and the wider community to meet, share and reflect on contemporary art, talent and creative energy emanating from the local environment, OTARAfest was a refreshing and hugely rewarding project to be part of.

The programme was officially launched at the opening of Fresh Out of School, an exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara featuring six new graduates from the outgoing Bachelor of Visual Arts degree programme offered at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts. The opening was a celebration of achievement for the students involved; we wanted to emphasise their commitment and hard work, and their new beginnings as qualified visual artists. The Gallery was filled with family and friends, music was provided by DJ Al’Goodie, a well-respected local DJ and radio personality and slow-cooked pork sliders, raw fish and smoked salmon bilinis were served courtesy of Lissy’s Kitchen.

Desire2Inspire, a local arts collective performed at the OTARAfest launch. With all its members currently engaged in youth work and related training, the two skits they presented were informed by lived realities for young people in South Auckland; managing peer pressure, the influences of drugs, alcohol and suicide, and the healing potential of faith and fellowship. I was so moved by their performances, their involvement and interest in the OTARAfest programme; it brought the community back inside the walls / windows of Fresh Gallery Otara and served as a reminder of the consciousness a local community art gallery should reflect.

OTARAcube was a new exhibitions concept that unfortunately launched two weeks behind schedule, meaning a performance work due to take place in the first weekend of the programme was sadly cancelled. However, its better-late-than-never arrival enabled the launch of its inaugural exhibition featuring Tongan artist sisters, Vea and Emily Mafile’o. The opening of their multimedia installation coincided with a special gathering of the Tongan art collective, No’o Fakataha at Fresh Gallery Otara on Friday 1 November.

An initiative of MIT Faculty of Creative Arts with support from the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board, the OTARAcube started life as a 20 foot shipping container; its design and customisation was undertaken by Nigel Burton (DVANZ). Now a permanent fixture in the Otara Town Centre, OTARAcube is located in the area between the Bus Depot and the taxi stand; site specific exhibitions and experimental art projects are planned to turnover on a roughly monthly basis.

OTARAfest provided a platform for a series of gathering and networking events, one of which heralded the beginning of the South Auckland Young Artists Network (SAYAN), a new movement based on the successful Youth Arts Committee at central Auckland community art centre, Artstation. SAYAN will meet fortnightly at Fresh Gallery Otara, contact Kirstin Whalen to go on the mailing list.

South Auckland Theatre Collective presented their first production, My Life, My Story, My South Auckland and got this sweet review, the wonderful P.O.T Productions delivered a beautiful re-worked and site-specific version of Pukepuke ‘O Tonga and OTARAwindow, a series of three outdoor window boxes on the exterior wall of Otara Family & Christian Health Centre, featured the work of Luisa Tora for the duration of OTARAfest.

I enjoyed so many facets of project managing this event programme, but one event in particular was an absolute career highlight. I had the privilege of working again with Tanu Gago, co-founder of FAF SWAG, a collective that advocates, promotes and endorses youth voices from South Auckland’s Pacific LGBTQI communities. Inspired by the American documentary film, Paris Is Burning, the first FAFSWAG Ball aimed to create a competitive platform centralising talent, performance prowess and safety in an accessibly priced, event experience unique to South Auckland.

The FAFSWAG Ball was affirming, electric, covered in glitter and tear-inducingly empowering!

As of 24 hours ago, I’ve also officially completed all the required outcomes for my Master of Arts Management degree at AUT University and I’m so relieved! I’m deeply thankful to my partner, my friends and family for helping me study and endure the financial hardship of committing to full-time postgraduate study, and especially to my mother, who has listened, advised and encouraged me to not give up, thanks Mum!

This weekend I’m showing two works in the annual King’s College Fine Art Sale and on Sunday I’ll be delivering a talk on Pacific art making and appreciation in South Auckland from 12.45pm, click here for more details.

Check out this track by Otara artist, Beelah – it is the soundtrack of Vea and Emily Mafile’o’s OTARAcube exhibition and was shot and recorded right here in Otara – love it!

I ❤ Entrepreneurial Pacific Artists

In the past two months I’ve come across a range of art products produced by entrepreneurial Pacific artists – something I love to see! Imagine if entrepreneurship and small business skills were taught at art schools! I love supporting artists who have a head for money-making!

Magnets, bags, lavalava and t-shirts… here is a small selection of some Pacific creative practitioners hustling in Auckland today!

FAF SWAG

FAF SWAG is an online LGBT community honouring Samoan fa’afafine identity. FAF SWAG t-shirts and lavalava are designed by Samoan new media artist, Tanu Gago.

Tabana by Design

Tabana by Design is a collaboration between Martine Stowers and her father. They have collectively produced a range of homeware, totes and make-up bags. They are GORGEOUS!

The Good, The Bad

The Good, The Bad is the brand of Samoan artist Gary Silipa. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while and love his TGTB Symbol t-shirt.

Tepora Malo

Tepora Malo is currently completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology. In 2012, she printed a series of lavalava and sold them at Otara Market. I came across them and loved them straight away! She now stocks Mangere Arts Centre shop located at the corner of Bader Drive and Orly Ave, Mangere, South Auckland.

Magnets by Molly Rangiwai McHale

Molly Rangiwai McHale produced a series of magnets featuring illustrations for Auckland’s recent Big Gay Out festival.

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