Posts tagged ‘Fijian Artist’

Left: Burotu (place of departed spirits), Viti, 2014.
500x500mm, 100% cotton rag paper, framed

Right: Saint Peter (the camouflage act), Barbados, 2016.
297x42mm, 100% cotton rag paper, framed

Torika Bolatagici was born in Tasmania and spent her early years living between Hobart, Sydney and her father’s village – Suvavou, Fiji.

Torika is a lecturer in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University, Melbourne where she teaches contemporary theory and practice. Her PhD ‘Somatic Sotia: Commodity, Agency and the Fijian Military Body’ was recently submitted for examination at the School of Art and Design, University of New South Wales.

Torika works across a range of media, including photography, video and mixed media site-specific installation.  Her interdisciplinary practice investigates the relationship between visual culture, human ecology,  postcolonial counternarrative and visual historiography of the Black Pacific. She is interested in exploring the tensions and intersections between gender, embodied knowledge, commodification, migration and globalization.

Her work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Mexico City, Yogyakarta and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at local and international conferences and symposia about the representation of mixed-race identity; Pacific arts practice in Australia and Fiji; representations of teachers and teaching in cinema; and gender and militarism in the Pacific.

In her role as Symposium coordinator for the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014, Torika curated multiple panels to extend the discourse around contemporary Pacific arts practice in Australia and invited speakers to reflect on themes such as art and activism, museums, collecting and curating, cultural appropriation and contemporary practice. She also produced the symposium publication Mana Motu (2013/14).

As well as 12 years experience teaching at tertiary level, Torika also has also facilitated youth arts workshops for the local Pacific community. Including Pasifik Young Artists (Léuli Eshraghi) (2013); Patterns and Portraiture (Salote Tawale) at SIGNAL youth arts (2014) and was the Creative Director of the Pacific Photobook Project (2014-15).

Torika presents the Community Reading Room – a pop-up destination for research, community discussion and engagement around international visual arts and culture, with a particular focus on contemporary art and theory from Oceania, Africa and the Americas. The Community Reading Room has appeared at Colour Box Studio (2013) and the Footscray Community Arts Centre (2014).

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Install detail, "Rules of Engagement" (2014) by Margaret Aull

Waikato-based visual artist Margaret Aull (Te Rarawa, Tūwharetoa, Fiji) presented her Master of Fine Arts graduating work at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design in central Auckland this week. I wrote a short comment for her exhibition catalogue…

Margaret Aull’s work over the past two years has traced the formation of a pan-cultural understanding of the notion of tapu, drawing from both Fijian and Māori frameworks. From the pictorial to the physical, her paintings have become sculpturally realised in installations that need to be physically negotiated. Throughout this process, the notion of tapu has been researched, discussed and experienced; the idea of sacredness considered in relation to objects and history, gender and power, time and space.

The interface of non-Fijian and non-Māori critical audiences has influenced and evolved her visual vocabulary; her work carries the sense of a deeply significant personal enquiry that is both protected and powerful. There are things that cannot be deconstructed for the purpose of intercultural understanding; there are senses of balance and belonging which cannot be translated into English. It is because of this cultural interface that I see Aull’s installation works as constructed environments for audiences to experience the role of observer.

Engaging with her work is to enact the manner in which protocol and presence is adjusted naturally to accommodate for unseen forces of socio-cultural mores. Such forces are embedded in epistemologies and ontologies, in land, sea and soil, in hearts, minds and memories.

Using imagery of her own body, Margaret confronts audiences with a further dimension of two-way self-reflection. Larger than life, her detached skin, eyes and teeth are loaded in political and emotional codes of race and beauty, sexuality and power.

At the culmination of her postgraduate enquiry, this work maps Aull’s personal and intercultural journey of understanding the notion of sacredness, of safety and of self.

I’ve loved watching the developments of Margaret’s work and I’m excited to see what’s to come!

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