Having studied jewellery, garment construction and photography, Genevieve Pini’s interdisciplinary art practice reflects family, feminism and bloodlines between Otara and Samoa. I spoke to her briefly about her work, Samoa mo Samoa in “That’s not Pacific Art”, the second exhibition in the PIMPI Winter Series…
Samoa mo Samoa is a photograph you made in 2004, what is it about and where was taken?
Samoa mo Samoa means Samoa for Samoa, it’s the motto of the Mau Movement. Just seeing it in South Auckland made me open my eyes a bit about how we relate to our history, being where we are.
I didn’t do the tag, but I liked the politics of it… it was a good feeling seeing it on Othello shops in Otara (heart of South Auckland), I was just waiting for the bus when I saw it. It’s about claiming space, and it was up there for ages. It made me think, where is the place of our histories in our everyday life in New Zealand? It’s in the people.
Otara and Samoa are significant anchors in your life and art practice, something strongly present in your work based on the process of getting your malu in 2003. I know it was a significant juncture in your life; it bonded your blood to this land, and your present (and future) to your past, Samoa to Otara. I’ve always loved how your photograph, Fa’amalu, captures the moment of excitement and intrigue before you got tattooed, how did your malu change your life and outlook?
Watching my dad going through his pe’a, the sight of seeing his blood, thinking ‘oh my god, that’s my dad, doing his thing for his family’. My dad, comes from Samoa, lives in Otara, does all this stuff for his family… working, sending money back home, keeping traditions alive.
I feel proud. And of course a certain obligation to do my part through art. I know from experience that my art doesn’t financially support my family’s Samoan fa’alavelaves and stuff but as long as I can represent them the best way I know how, I love doing art.
My malu gives me a sense of pride, knowing that my family are behind me and supporting me. When you get down to it, it represents love.
What does Samoa mo Samoa mean to you today?
It means family, love, respect… there are so many layers to this. The past, present and future, a sense of place. I have a place here…
That’s not Pacific Art
Featuring Faafeu Kapeneta, Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan and Genevieve Pini.
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