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).