It’s the last few days of the PIMPI Winter Series, an experimental series of pop-up exhibitions produced in partnership with Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio on Auckland’s Mt Eden Road. The last day of the current show is THIS Saturday 12 September there are six works left for sale, check them out…
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik | Noodles 420 x 594mm, Colour Accent Print on 200gsm Fuji Film Satin Finish paper (Edition of 2) $450 [Framed] Waiora Palalagi
Writing media releases is not a strength of mine. I’ve had the privilege of working with some excellent marketing heads in the past; they’ve taken my words and created digestible, broad appeal information that gives mainstream mana to projects which generally sit comfortably within the margins.
Producing a series of exhibitions in a non-conventional, central Auckland commercial space, with an agenda of selling art and engaging broad and diverse audiences, on a minimal budget, has forced me out of my comfort zone. These exhibitions couldn’t exist ‘comfortably within the margins’; they needed to be translated, positioned, re-valued… or did they?
As the PIMPI Winter Series has rolled out, the deeper purpose and complexity of what I set out to do has revealed itself to me day by day, online and off, in conversations and silent observations. In this space between commerce and creativity, the perceived margins and the centre, where skin is marked and hair is cut, the exhibitions are encountered largely unintentionally by wandering eyes, passers by, social media followers and waiting mates, spouses and children.
Partner in the PIMPI Winter Series, and owner of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, Stan Lolohea, has challenged and invigorated my thinking at every stage. Outside of the conventions of an art gallery, who are these shows for? And does increasing the net of general awareness create more genuine interest? Does an exhibition grow the scope, care and engagement between audiences, groups… does it facilitate understanding, conversation and debate across class, race, gender divides?
I’ve found producing these exhibitions so completely refreshing, a total love-project with no funding, but built on the back of a strong forgiving partnership (vinaka vakalevu Stan), and carried by my family, who have shared the load (malo ‘aupito Taka, Si’i, Lini, Tu’i). I had found myself working from funding round to funding round, writing late night proposals, planning, pitching, failing… I needed to get back to the grassroots of what I love to do and flex my curatorial muscle.
DIY curating is a full To Do list most days, but the hosting, promo, multiple trips to Warehouse Stationary, the framers, finding excellent deals on good wine, getting my earth-thrills from using corn-based bioplastic cups… I’ve loved it all! But mostly, it has been a privilege to gently hustle these 12 talented and clever artists, facilitating sales for many of them, instigating new work and fresh thinking.
I’m grateful for the partnerships, support and online engagement that has pushed out the potential of these shows. To those who have bought work – thank you, and to those who have given their time and skills: Lana Lopesi, Ralph Brown, Sean Atavenitia for South Auckland Photography, Sangeeta Singh, Leilani Kake – I’m deeply grateful. Thanks also to the residents of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, Duss, Damian and Willy – I’ve been totally inspired watching you work!
The Private Views / Opening receptions for the PIMPI Winter Series have been too cool. Eclectic, diverse audiences… family, friends, colleagues, locals, South Aucklanders too! To those who travel from near and far to support these artists – thank you so much! It means a lot. Check out this badass video by South Auckland Photography:
Here’s an interview Stan and I did with Radio New Zealand reporter, Justin Gregory, aired on Friday 7 August:
And there’s still ONE MORE SHOW to go!
Please join us from 6pm on Thursday 27 August at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio, 159 Mt Eden Road, central Auckland to mark the opening of Know what I mean, jellybean? featuring new and recent work by Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi and Pati Solomona Tyrell – all work is for sale!
I’ve been dreaming about establishing another gallery in South Auckland. I love curating, I love selling art and I love collaborating with artists to make good shows that contribute to broadening awareness and understanding of Pacific ways of seeing and being in Auckland, New Zealand.
Whilst I’m hopeful my one-day gallery is in the near future, in the meantime I’ve collaborated with Tongan tattoo artist, Stan Lolohea to develop the PIMPI Winter Series: a series of three pop-up exhibitions at his Mt Eden barber and tattoo studio. We’re working with 12 artists over eight weeks facilitating the presentation of around 25 individual pieces of work, most of which has never been exhibited before, and all work is for sale!
These artists excite me! From Canberra-based Sione Monu, the Brown-Instagram-famous selfie savant, Faafeu Kapeneta, photographing the small but visible Tongan community in rural Marlborough, to visual arts students Qingze Nan, Daisy Tavilione and Pati Solomona Tyrell, each making experimental, bold work at MIT Faculty of Creative Arts in the heart of Otara, South Auckland.
I feel super privileged that for some of these artists, this is their first exhibition. Some are Pacific art regulars, whilst others have been fairly quiet on the exhibition scene. The PIMPI Winter Series has been a call to action, inspiring new work and a different context for engaging with Pacific art and ideas.
U Can’t Touch This (16 July – 1 August) features Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga and Daisy Tavilione. In the first of the series, this site specific exhibition acknowledges the head, the hair and the selfie. In Fiji, like many parts of Oceania, the head is the most sacred part of the body; in the words of Stanley Kirk Burrell, U Can’t Touch This. Situated in and around the barber shop floor, four Pacific artists have created new work about the head (literally), and the most important and sacred parts of life. In references to family portraiture and the celebratory lei (garland), there are acknowledgements of nature and culture, life and death, loved ones and idols.
That’s not Pacific Art (6 – 22 August) features Faafeu Kapeneta, ‘Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan and Genevieve Pini. Inspired by conversations around definitions, problematic terminology, authorship and belonging, this exhibition confronts popular expectations of what Pacific art is / should be. Some work deviates from direct references to identity and community, people and places, others present perplexing juxtapositions of tradition, human and geographical landscapes.
Know what I mean, jellybean? (27 August – 12 September) features Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi and Pati Solomona Tyrell. In reference to a line from the movie Blood In, Blood Out, this exhibition touches on the idea of cultural chameleonism, and the everyday negotiation of difference across and between cultural and social environments, vernacular and humour, ways of being and seeing.
Meet the artists at the PIMPI Winter Series Private Views, pick up a copy of Stan Lolohea’s essay and get in quick – artwork is priced to sell!
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.
Vinesh 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.