Posts tagged ‘Gentrification’

Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau is the full name is the artist commonly known as Manu Vaea. The 19 year old Tongan visual artist and poet has responded to the themes of gentrification and cultural transformation in the PIMPI Winter Series exhibition, #CHANGES with a series of rose-tinted, hand-drawn illustrations about the erasure of memory and the emotional detachment of displacement.

Manu, your four hand-drawn works in #CHANGES feel so personal; they give us such intimate insights into family spaces. What was it like to draw, in painstaking detail, these memories?

Upon drawing these, I felt sadness. That’s just it, an overwhelming sadness. I had decided upon the exclusion of a large part of my family’s facial features and some figures completely so that it would feel a bit emotionally off-kilter/detached because I guess that’s what gentrification does on that level. How are you supposed to feel about a place you once came from, that doesn’t technically exist anymore?

Your work makes a vital contribution to this exhibition because it demonstrates what the ‘end game’ of gentrification can look like. What was the experience like for your family to be displaced and relocate to another community, presumably much further away from the environment they were familiar with?

My family weren’t and still aren’t so interested in the politics of displacement and gentrification; I attribute this to it being something they must’ve become accustomed to, living in New Zealand. So, I guess that’s why, as I looked through the old photographs from Mad Ave and further began to illustrate them, I felt so upset.

My family had actually moved from Mad Ave shortly before the process of gentrification had begun, but it’s that thing of being able to locate yourself within a time and place. A whole community of families had existed there, a culture had developed there and these are the things that you don’t see in those articles dogging Mad Ave or honestly any other area with a low socio-economic decile.

Gentrification happened to everyone, so in turn, everyone one was displaced together and recreating these communities wasn’t too hard. I think the physical erasure of these low socio-economic areas that both my family and many others grew up in, as I mentioned before, leaves a lot of people really emotionally detached. I think it also slowly but definitely eventuates in the erasure of memories.

I became aware of your practice through my lifelong fangirling of all things FAFSWAG, what does it mean to be part of this collective, and how does that influence or empower your individual practice?

Ah! FAFSWAG. It means a lot to be a part of the collective. The members of this collective were the first to actually want to sit down with me and discuss things I had always wanted to discuss. FAFSWAG has given me huge opportunities to create/perform/be and I’m mad thankful. In regards to my individual practice, I’ve made sure not to really expect too much and feel pressured to overachieve because I need to take care of my spirit/body/mind first and well, I’m only 19. Lol. FAFSWAG, however, is one of my greatest support systems and I feel really indebted towards a lot of the members.

I know you’re currently studying visual arts at AUT University, having moved from studying animation, what are you loving about making art without a kind of commercial orientation?

Yes, so I’m currently sitting a Bachelor of Visual Arts and what I love about the lack of any kind of commercial orientation is that I’m creating things that I feel wholly responsible for. In saying that, it also means that I take full responsibility if my work looks like shit. I think that even that is good for growth though. I also just appreciate that I get to speak on whatever I want, whenever I want and I am always in complete control of what I share with others. Trying to head down a more traditionally lucrative career path (going to Media Design School) was honestly a really bad mistake which manifested itself in many ways physically, mentally and spiritually.

It’s so good to have those things in check at such a young age. Manu, what are your art dreams… what is the ideal art life for you?

Hmm, art dreams. I haven’t really thought about it properly. Its all just been go from the jump so I’ve taken everything as it came. I think really what I want is to travel, create outside of my comfort zone and ultimately return to Tonga.

Check out Manu Vaea’s new work in #CHANGES until Friday 28 July at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, 507 Great South Road, South Auckland.

The 2017 PIMPI Winter Series has been produced with support from the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.
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In the age of Insta-challenges, selfies and the social currency of the click-like-share economy, visual culture can momentarily engage a seemingly infinite audience in a singular moment between photographer, lens and subject – viewer, screen and device.

In 2014, South Auckland-based photographer Vinesh Kumaran set himself the challenge of using his iPhone to shoot and share a portrait a day via photo-sharing app, Instagram. Initially conceived as a means to keep creatively active between commercial jobs, the project became a daily ritual, a visual discipline and public obsession that engaged new and diverse audiences with each new addition.

The impressive series was made over 365 days; it traces Kumaran’s footprints across Auckland, to the Far North and Sāmoa, around Aotearoa and deep into the nooks and crannies of his home suburb of Māngere. Through the square lens of Instagram, we encounter people and spaces, roller doors and weatherboards, living rooms, bikes, balls, mangroves… mats, scooters, bus stops…radiant juxtapositions and intriguing suburban camouflage.

In captions that accompany the portraits, each subject is credited; their name and age, where they live and sometimes where they are originally from. In short quotes that follow, the subject’s voice elevates the image and demystifies the gaze. Kumaran has approached strangers in the street, human to human, eye to eye; the quotes are sometimes secrets and sometimes mundane, but represent the space between the artist, the camera and the subject, and exist as the residue of the encounter.

Kumaran developed a keen interest in portraiture from documenting a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to Aotearoa. The experience helped form an acute awareness of the power of the lens and the position of the photographer. His ability to manoeuvre through cultural difference, to find a common moment of connection has come to be a defining feature of his work, and the power of this common ground is most evident in projects that reflect and respond to his own lived experience.

“Open All Hours” series (2013) by Vinesh Kumaran

Open All Hours (2013), a series of portraits of dairy shop owners behind their counters, draws on Kumaran’s own experience of working in his family dairy. An experimental body of work documenting sugarcane farmers at the start of their days was made in Ba, the small town in rural Viti Levu, Fiji, where he grew up.

In his 2014-15 Instagram portrait project, Kumaran didn’t set out to create a ‘Humans of South Auckland’ type archive; the people of South Auckland so heavily represented in the series are a reflection of the artist’s life. He lives in Māngere, visits friends and relatives, shops and strolls in Papatoetoe, Manukau, Manurewa, Ōtāhuhu. The people he has encountered paint a rich picture of the region’s enormous diversity, connected by the common ground of being here, now. It is perhaps a timely depiction of a community in transition, where creeping gentrification and the inevitable displacement and resulting cultural shift, are redefining South Auckland every day.

This article was originally published in Art New Zealand (Issue 156, Summer 2015-16)

Hello, my name is Vinesh is a solo exhibition consisting of 74 Instagram portraits made between 2014-15. The exhibition opens the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series, supported by the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board and produced for Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery in Ōtāhuhu. Find out more here.

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Courtesy of Konile Fusitua

Ōtāhuhu is changing before our eyes. Auckland’s housing crisis has shifted the appeal of our neighbourhoods and new home buyers, residents and investment are transforming the demography and commercial landscape of parts of South Auckland at an alarming rate. The second exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series confronts the inevitable cultural transformation of communities and spaces undergoing gentrification in South Auckland. Featuring local and international artists, #CHANGES presents reflections on social histories, memory and place-making, intercultural navigation and the uncomfortable relationship between gentrification and neo-colonialism.

Courtesy of Manu Vaea

In a new series of illustrations, Manu Vaea reflects on time spent growing up on “Mad Ave” in Glen Innes, an infamous neighbourhood once dubbed the “street from hell”. The area underwent redevelopment in the early 2000s and has since been re-populated and re-branded as Mount Taylor Drive, Glendowie. Vaea’s illustrations on rose-tinted metallic paper are drawn from family photographs taken between 1989-1991; they represent the comfort and familiarity of home, and the intangible memories of a place that has been erased.

Qiane Matata-Sipu is an Ihumātao-based photographer and storyteller. Her peoples’ ancestral lands have been, and continue to be, ravaged by waves of rapid change from settler confiscation and occupation to present-day rural re-zoning, the construction of massive industrial factories and a government endorsed Special Housing Area development for 500 high density homes. In a new series called Waitohu, meaning ‘to mark, signify, indicate; a symbol, brand or sign’, Matata-Sipu juxtaposes the language of signage seen in the Ihumātao area with images of land, skies and children, the inheritors of this shifting landscape. In stark and confronting layers, the fit and misfit of these elements expose the crassness of capitalist commercialisation against the mana of the whenua.

Local artist Sean Kerrigan has an aesthetic, craftsmanship and philosophical grounding that seems harder to come by in the digital age of art making. His work is the product of time and energy spent understanding, negotiating and shaping materials. His hand-scratched bedhead is emblazoned with a South Auckland alpha-mutt, a common mix derived from Pitty x Staffy (Pitbull and Staffordshire Terrier breeds), a symbol that creates an uneasily close reference to Mongrel Mob insignia. Kerrigan grew up in and around Māngere and Ōtāhuhu and has an emotional nostalgia to the way the environment shaped him, as a white man, growing up in brown neighbourhoods. His work references a mash-up of the famed JFK quote, Think not what the ghetto can do for you but FEEL, with your heart, what you can be of the ghetto. 

Courtesy of Lisiate Wolfgramm

In a series of infographic posters, Utah-based graphic artist, Lisiate Wolfgramm reflects the global footprints of the Pacific diaspora where contrasting attitudes, tensions and skillsets emerge and evolve around food and celebration, space and distance, names and pronunciation. Now globally connected via social media, the Pacific diaspora experience is documented, discussed and shared online across every social platform. Wolfgramm’s cheeky instructional diagrams serve to entertain familiar audiences, and create an honest and informative interface with others. 

In only her second exhibition, Ōtāhuhu College student Lilia Rakoia uses the architectural lines and features of Ōtāhuhu’s changing landscape in two new paintings. The landmarks and place-making of the past and future collide in a kind of Southside futurism, an exciting beginning for a young artist’s creative practice.

As the youngest artist in the exhibition, Konile Fusitua is separating his creative expression from the digital to the tangible realm for the first time. In daily postings across all his social platforms, Fusitua is an avid content creator, making portraits and compositions depicting the world he inhabits with sister Ofa Moana, the music and media they consume, and observations of South Auckland from fresh eyes having migrated to New Zealand in 2016 from Portland, Oregon, USA. Over his three hand-held-device-scaled works, Fusitua presents three accompanying garlands that symbolically bring the digital and natural worlds together in beauty and symmetry, balance and ephemerality.

Defying curatorial convention, #CHANGES curator Ema Tavola includes a concept artwork for the exhibition and its themes in the form of a paper collage entitled, Why Lady. In preparing to pursue a research residency at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, Tavola endeavours to explore the role of making, recording and idea visualisation in the act of curating. Why Lady combines references to site specificity, dominant culture / cultural dominance, and the body politics and fashioning of brown bodies and white bodies.

This exhibition aims to probe gentrification and its process of displacement and manifestation of economic privilege. In the words of locals, Ōtāhuhu is changes. There is undeniable value in the process of historically segregated communities being unnaturally thrust together, learning to live, somewhat awkwardly, side-by-side. But as the momentum of change increases, the inevitable transformation of our communities becomes less about the benefits of having better access to good coffee, but the quietly shifting dynamics of power and numbers, control and influence, agency, belonging and entitlement.

This exhibition has been produced with support from the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.

#CHANGES

Featuring: Konile Fusitua, Sean Kerrigan, Qiane Matata-Sipu, Lilia Rakoia, Ema Tavola, Manu Vaea, Lisiate Wolfgramm
Curated by Ema Tavola

Opening: 6pm, Saturday 8 July
Panel Discussion: #RealTalk – Gentrifying South Auckland: 2pm, Saturday 22 July
Exhibition Dates: 10 – 28 July 2017

Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery is located at 507 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland. Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 7am – 3pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm.

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The drawings in this series are six meditations on the creeping gentrification that is increasingly changing the cultural landscape of South Auckland.

I made these works for a pop-up / pocket exhibition project taking place currently in Old Papatoetoe,South Auckland. Organised by The Pantograph Punch and commissioned by Auckland Council, the exhibition takes the form of large format posters in vacant shop windows in the soon to be ‘renewed’ Old Papatoetoe mall.

 

Sm VALUES (1)In her 2014 TEDxNewYork talk, Dr Stacey Sutton discusses gentrification as a manifestation of inequality. She challenges common misconceptions about gentrification and unpacks the politics of displacement. Although speaking to American contexts, so many of these issues are applicable to the South Auckland situation.

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The site of the exhibition is the shop windows of empty shops in the Old Papatoetoe mall. So many of the vacant shops had hand-written signs in the window, some directing customers to a new address, others just simply declaring the end of their company’s presence in Papatoetoe. I was interested in the time, effort and emotion it took  to write such an important message, and the tensions of change and takeovers.

Sm VALUES (2)

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After various recent experiences of the Auckland Council Arts and Culture team, I’ve reflected on the values that could or should underpin arts service delivery and effectiveness from my position as a local artist. The bureaucracy protects and connects, flexing a vision of strength.

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Old Papatoetoe mall is getting ‘renewed’, Ōtāhuhu is getting a brand new transport depot, Manukau Train Station now brings people to the heart of Southside. Train stations bring all the bucks to the yard, too bad if you don’t live near one.

Check out Postcards from Papatoetoe, a ‘pop-up & pocket exhibition’ organised by The Pantograph Punch in the Old Papatoetoe Mall, St George Street, South Auckland. The exhibition features work by Elisabeth Alani, Quishile Charan and Pooja Subramanian, Liyen Chong, Vinesh Kumaran, Kerry Ann Lee, Lana Lopesi, and Ema Tavola.

Photo credit: Francis McWhannell, The Pantograph Punch

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