Posts tagged ‘Vinesh Kumaran’

The first exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter SeriesHello, my name is Vinesh opened at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery on Saturday 17 June. Photos were taken by Gopal Aupouri and Julia Mage’au Gray – thank you! The public programme event for this exhibition is a speed networking night, South Auckland stylee – it’s on Saturday 1 July, mor details coming soon!

 

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Hello, my name is Vinesh opens this weekend at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery as the first exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series. Photographer, Vinesh Kumaran and I have been working together on projects for more than a decade!

The first exhibition I produced with Vinesh’s work was called (Re)Locating Home, a group show that was  staged in Suva, Fiji and at Fresh Gallery Ōtara in 2006. Vinesh’s work was a single wall-mounted image and a beautiful book of photographs documenting a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to South Auckland. I witnessed his work drawing people in, sharing insights to a journey many would only dream of.

Vinesh and I have since collaborated on photographs for exhibitions, public display, publications and online galleries, but this is the first time we’ve made an exhibition about photographs Vinesh took on an iPhone!

Hello, my name is Vinesh is a title devised over a few drinks with Vinesh, designer Edgar Melitao and curator Nigel Borell. The original concept for the exhibition was developed for Māngere Arts Centre but the exhibition didn’t eventuate. Using the impressive artistic direction of Edgar Melitao and a tag team of curators, we had hoped to help Vinesh realise this important project in the most beautiful way, symbolically in the neighbourhood he grew up in.

One year on, Hello, my name is Vinesh has been re-born, produced by just me, but informed by those initial brainstorms with the Vinesh Kumaran dream team! This special show breathes life into the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series as the first exhibition of the series. It is a complete privilege to help see this exhibition come to life and we are both super grateful for the support of the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board.

Hello, my name is Vinesh opens at 6pm on Saturday 17 June and runs from Monday – Friday, 7am – 3pm and Saturdays, 9am – 2pm, until Friday 7 July at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery, 507 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland.

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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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Hello, my name is Vinesh is a solo exhibition by Māngere-based photographer, Vinesh Kumaran. Starting in 2014, Vinesh challenged himself to make a portrait a day for 365 days. The project became an obsession that led him to explore and engage with his landscape and communities in new ways every day. His approach would always start with, Hello… my name is Vinesh.

In the first exhibition of the 2017 PIMPI Winter Series, Vinesh presents 74 portraits from the series, along with the stories and insights shared between photographer and subject at the moment the photograph was made. Using Instagram as a platform to upload and share the portraits, Vinesh connected the project and the people to another audience, who readily added to the narrative of each photograph with commentary and tags.

Although Vinesh has exhibited widely in New Zealand, and also in Fiji, Hello, my name is Vinesh is the artist’s first solo exhibition.

About the artist

Vinesh Kumaran was born and raised in the small rural town of Ba, Fiji and the South Auckland suburb of Mangere, New Zealand.

Pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Arts enabled his first foray into photography. His graduate work documented a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to New Zealand. The experience helped form an acute awareness of the power of the lens and the position of the photographer.

Four years at art school gave Vinesh a strong technical and critical perspective on the discipline of photography as well as a deep respect for portraiture. After graduating, he dove enthusiastically into the world of commercial photography learning with every opportunity. Committed and determined, Vinesh has established an impressive reputation and worked on notable national and international campaigns in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Vinesh has established long term relationships within the arts and cultural sectors in South Auckland, which have enabled a number of opportunities to explore and develop his portraiture portfolio. From promotional to editorial and gallery-based photography, Vinesh treats portraiture as a collaboration ultimately capturing a moment of connection.

Check out more work by Vinesh Kumaran here.

Hello, my name is Vinesh

OPENING: 6pm, Saturday 17 June
Hello, my name is… // Speed Networking Night: 6pm, Saturday 1 July
EXHIBITION: 19 June – 7 July 

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I was privileged to be invited to speak briefly at the opening of Taku Tāmaki – Auckland Stories South at MIT Manukau yesterday. This awesome little exhibition is open for the next year and I love it! Check it out next time you’re in South Auckland. My korero went a bit like this:

I want to acknowledge the speakers who have come before me, it’s my privilege to be standing up here as a local, an artist, and a proud resident of Ōtara-Papatoetoe, South Auckland.

A blog post about the voice and involvement of ‘source communities’ in the curation and management of objects and stories from indigenous peoples has stirred up anger and outrage, sadness and frustration in the past week. Tiffany Jenkins’ polarising perspective has inspired broad commentary about authorship, ownership, racism and privilege which is too often found just below the surface in the international Museum space.

I want to acknowledge Simon and Kelly, Kolokesa and Amiria, an inspiring team of conscious and caring professionals who represent a new era of Museum practice. Bringing this show to us here in Manukau shifts the focus, it re-aligns the centre… an act that quietly changes the game of Museum practice in Aotearoa. Thank you.

It was my privilege to be consulted in the development of this important exhibition. I want to thank the team for listening, accommodating for me and my toddler, taking time to hear and appreciate the nuances of living and working, and feeling proud of being a South Aucklander.

I want to acknowledge the whole team who has created this exhibition – I know that time and energy has gone into every aspect of what we see here, your consideration and attention to detail, your skill and expertise, elevates our stories and I’m grateful for your efforts.

I wanted to acknowledge too that… I’m here on purpose. I choose to live here. This is my place to stand, not by accident, but by informed choice. I migrated to Manukau, not to New Zealand, or Auckland, to this place, and I’m still here because this place gives me life, it settles me, reminds me where I came from and where I can go.

I love feeling so close to the Pacific, I loved being a student and later working at an institution which prides itself on raising the bar of Pasifika achievement. Pacific people feel at home in Manukau because we see ourselves, our norms, our culture and languages represented in our environments. And that helps.

It makes all the difference when our stories and experiences are celebrated, not for overcoming adversity, but for making massive strives for our communities on national and international levels.

I appreciate that this exhibition highlights the socio-economic, political and historical forces that shape our lives here in Manukau. These factors affect and inspire so much of the vibrant culture of creative expression, of visual and performing arts, of music and spoken word that are proudly coming out of our art centres, our churches, homes, halls and neighbourhoods.

I learned my craft as a curator here at MIT; I learned to appreciate the value of creativity and the value of my position, my space, my voice and context. MIT opened doors to me I hadn’t even considered, and I’m incredibly proud to take this institution with me wherever I go.

Although I now find myself working outside of the Arts, Manukau reminds me every day that art is a vehicle to talk about people, and culture and belonging, and when those things are in the foreground, when those stories and nuances are heard, reflected and honoured, a community thrives, and that’s where I want to be.

A last acknowledgement; to Vinesh Kumaran, the photographer, creative visionary whose talent I’ve been privileged to feed off for the past decade – thank you. And to my colleagues from Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura – I’m on a new journey of service and celebration with you, for the love of South Auckland, thank you for your support.

Vinaka vakalevu, fa’afetai tele lava, malo ‘aupito.

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A series of six photographs from the Polyfest Portrait Project is now on permanent display at Manukau Institute of Technology’s new centrally located Manukau campus! Commissioned by the Institute, the series is entitled, Portrait of a Generation. This selection was made specifically for the site – the massive exterior wall of the new campus theatre; the photographs are best viewed from outside the building on Davies Avenue.

The Polyfest Portrait Project is an ongoing photographic collaboration between Manukau Institute of Technology graduates, Vinesh Kumaran, photographer, and artist Ema Tavola.

Since 2009, they’ve set up a make-shift photo studio at the festival to document elements of personal style from bold fashion ensembles to eye-catching hair art. In a series of now over 300 photographs, the Polyfest Portrait Project captures youth in South Auckland as proud, culturally grounded and full of potential.

Vinesh and Ema worked with MIT Faculty of Creative Arts students to produce the 2014 series sharing their knowledge and experience in photography and portraiture techniques, project management and curatorial processes.

About the Artists

Pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Arts at MIT enabled Vinesh’s first foray into photography. His graduate work documented a highly personal journey retracing his family’s historical migration from India to Fiji and on to New Zealand. The experience helped form an acute awareness of the power of the lens and the position of the photographer.

Studying visual arts gave Vinesh a strong technical and critical perspective on the discipline of photography as well as a deep respect for portraiture. After graduating, he moved into the commercial sector where he’s been able to work on notable national and international photographic campaigns in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. He’s currently working on a powerful series of daily portraits of individuals he encounters on his travels and within his day-to-day life living in Māngere; the entire series is shot on an iPhone and accessible via Instagram.

Ema majored in sculpture and loved contextual studies and writing. With a special interest in Pacific art and audiences, she got involved with volunteering opportunities and started working on public exhibitions and community events during her final year of study. She went on to manage Fresh Gallery Otara and held the role of Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council (later Auckland Council) from 2006-2012. Ema now works as a freelance arts manager, curator and advisor offering an annual internship to senior Creative Arts students to gain professional experience in arts project management.

Check out another selection of works from the 2014 Polyfest Portrait Project published on the NZ Herald website.

Sm PolyfestHairProject install

Hear Vinesh and Ema discussing the second manifestation of the Polyfest Portrait Project in the form of the Polyfest Hair Project that was first shown at Fresh Gallery Otara in May 2012.

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Fresh 2.0

Fresh Gallery Otara was established in May 2006 by Manukau City Council in partnership with the Otara community in South Auckland. As the manager and driver of Fresh, I produced 66 exhibitions from 2006-2012; I invested my blood, sweat and tears into the Gallery and loved my job but in June 2012, I left the role. The then Curatorial / Gallery Assistant, Nicole Lim took the reigns and has overseen the Gallery’s recent refurbishment and significant expansion.

This week, Fresh Gallery Otara re-opens as a new space under new leadership. I have unwavering support and loyalty to Nicole Lim and I can’t wait to see her first show in the new space.

Juan Castillo is a Chilean artist who produced a multifaceted work called Minimal-Baroque in 2006 as part of his residency at what was then Manukau School of Visual Arts. He collaborated with Otara artist, Leilani Kake to film a series of vox pops at Fresh Gallery Otara, asking members of the community and visitors to Fresh, “What is Art?”

The video is a historical and fascinating insight into community perceptions of the word ‘art’ – I’m so glad Nicole has chosen to re-show it.

Francis Falaniko, photographed by Vinesh KumaranVinesh Kumaran is a long-time collaborator and his input into Fresh Gallery Otara, SOUTH publication and the Pacific Arts Summits has been significant. His excellent series shot for the exhibition South Style (2009) is being re-shown and like Minimal-Baroque, exists as a historical record of South Auckland social history.

Fresh 2.0 is an exhibition that recognises the legacy of Fresh Gallery Otara, its significant relationships with Manukau Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Creative Arts (previously known as Manukau School of Visual Arts) and its enormous potential as a hub for creativity in the heart of grassroots South Auckland.

Great job, Nicole and go well, Fresh!

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