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MARCH 2017

www.tautai.org

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faith wilson

all that was left was hope

Confessions of a teenage afakasi, Faith Wilson, 2017, Blue Oyster Art Project Space. (Photo credit: Alex Lovell-Smith)

“I

guess I want to be a kind of fractured whole. Reconciled. It’s about acknowledging, especially as a female body, that part of the process is being able to shape-shift; we all have to do it. And it’s important to recognise that’s a survival mechanism.” Faith Wilson has proved adept at being many selves. Good student and bad-girl teen; artist, writer, curator; Samoan, German, Pākehā; she identifies as ‘afakasi, a term she uses to encompass the composite nature of her character. Working with the peculiarities of her own experience she demands we grant authority to the in-between, reminding the viewer that to be understood as a singular entity is a privilege brown women have historically been denied. How many people can we be at once? As many as necessary. Here enters the myth of the Golden Girl:

all that was left was hope, video, 2016, Open Letter to Simon Denny, hand written text, 2016, Faith Wilson, New Perspectves, Artspace . (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

brown but not too brown, she is at once in touch with her cultural identity and capable of immersing herself in white spaces. She never asks you to acknowledge her heritage but is happy to answer any questions, no matter how prying, pertaining to it. She is kind, caring, supple, malleable. She is shapeless, moulded to whichever image you care to pick. What’s your flavour?

in working with Simon Denny bc I think he actually has capacity to make change and I think he could help me”. In response to a quote of his proclaiming ambivalence “a worthwhile cultural expression” she writes “I think I’m starting to get it. Maybe ambivalence is the way to go. Ppl r put off by my strong opinion. #simondennyknowswhatsgood”.

At least one version of Faith proved to be suited to Simon Denny’s tastes. Hand picked by the man himself to take part in the Artspace show New Perspectives, she documented the experience on the Instagram account @ fucksimondenny. The process is harrowing. Beginning with defiant pokes at Denny’s inscrutability she quite quickly begins to reconsider him, captioning one photo “Some real questions tho. I’m actually interested

A second myth: the White Saviour. The White Saviour offers the safety and validation – comforts they have always known – that the Golden Girl strives toward. And, as the story goes, Faith falls into Denny’s arms. As she describes in Open Letter to Simon Denny, she finds herself “entered irrevocably into a conversation about how to represent a sovereign body in a colonised space”. The power of Faith’s work lies in her ability to articulate that


Confessions // let it burn, Faith Wilson, 2017, Toi Moroki - Centre of Contemporary Art. (Photo credit: Janneth Gil)

Dark Objects, The Dowse Art Museum, 2017. Detail of Plazzy Gangster, Jade Townsend, 2017 and The Weight of the World, Natasha Matlia-Smith, 2017. (Photo credit: Faith Wilson)

experience, processing it through language while proclaiming her authority over her representation within the show. “I may insist on my sovereignty by resisting your reading, withholding my narrative. Without my body, you have an image of my body, an image that is already a colonised space, has already entered your system of lingual exchange. What you have right here is not my body, but words that substantiate the story of my body. They are saying that I exist in narratives and numinous spaces that your tongue cannot reach.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, Faith comes from a writing background. She completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Victoria University in 2014. When I asked what prompted her move into performance, she explained that by the time she finished her Masters she was disillusioned with the ability of language to communicate what she felt she needed to express. When her mother, Leafa Wilson, asked her to participate in a performance titled MALEPE (KALEPE) at Whau Arts Festival 2014 she agreed, instigating a three-part collaborative performance series. The second, KIPI LALO, was again conceptualised by Leafa and performed at Common Ground Festival in 2015. For the third and final performance, held at Enjoy Feminisms in 2015, Faith conceived FILI, described as “a cutting of the apron strings”, in which her, her mother, and her sister Olive cut one another’s hair. Audience members were invited to join in and chop off a piece to take away. Bonds were weakened, strengthened, created. Exchange often features in Faith’s work. Performance is a delicate game of give and take. In the recent exhibition Confessions of a teenage afakasi at Blue Oyster art project

space she returned to her teenage self. Drawing on old journals and quotes once scribbled on bedroom walls she transformed the gallery into a memorial to the young woman that was. Confessions of a teenage afakasi is an offering, both to her former self and to other young women who have shared similar experiences. To want to disappear until someone notices is a singular desire, often misunderstood. A lethal combination of agony and intelligence are heartbreakingly clear in the work. In a world where “self-care” is somehow revolutionary and everybody supposedly normalised, Faith speaks to an audience for whom self-care is often secondary to self-survival. Printed on the walls at Blue Oyster: “You don’t belong here, but you can try and pretend to”; “Be nice, Be fun, Don’t talk about race, We’re all just ‘Kiwis’ from New Zealand, Get good grades, Read lots of white books”; I will make my body even more invisible because I want to be seen”. A lineage is established by these phrases. Concerns which manifested in Faith’s teenage years can be traced through the performances of her adulthood. A body once divided starkly in two by imperialist assumptions of what it could be and what it wasn’t has become sovereign. Faith describes the process of Confession of a teenage afakasi as cathartic. She wonders what more of herself she can possibly offer in performance and if perhaps the work might act as a turning point in her career. How can the effect of the colonial gaze be represented without granting it the authority it demands? One possible, and ambitious, answer is that it’s voice be muted. In Faith's capacity as Blumhart Curatorial Intern at The Dowse

Art Museum she has staged Dark Objects, an exhibition featuring only artists of colour: Hana Aoake, Clara Chon, Hye Rim Lee, Huni Mancini, Natasha Matlia-Smith, Sorawit Songsataya and Jade Townsend. The result is a visceral intervention on the gallery’s landscape. MatliaSmith’s fabric columns The Weight of the World deflate the pillars on which Western Art History rests, while Townsend’s floor painting Plazzy Gangster create a the opportunity for a new path to be paved. The result is a visceral intervention on the gallery’s landscape. In a charming coincidence, one of the Google results for the search “Dark Objects The Dowse” is a review by Mark Amery posted on The Big Idea, titled Gaining Critical Mass. In it, he refers to the Dowse show Critical Mass curated by Emma Budgen in 2012, which featured the work of Simon Denny, among others. Denny’s works are described as conjuring dark magic “from assortments of ordinary things”. It’s funny how we can come full circle. Some things you just can’t escape. Faith’s expressions of the self take many forms: writing, performance, curation, but her concerns are consistent. She draws on a history of representation, subverting traditional expectations in order to reclaim a colonial history that has hijacked our understanding of the ordinary. She creates the potential for the under-represented and the in-between to find a narrative that resembles their own histories mirrored back at them in her work. Hanahiva Rose (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) Writer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.


tautai news Kia manuia

W

e are excited to be profiling Faith Wilson in this newsletter. Faith has represented Tautai in Wellington in the Tertiary Liaison role, was a CNZ Pasifika Intern, and more recently has completed her internship at The Dowse as the Blumhardt Intern. Our thanks to Hanahiva Rose for writing the article. The ‘young ones’ have been at the forefront these last few months. The first three CNZ Pasifika interns (Grace Taylor, Amiria Puia Taylor and Paul Fagamalo) gave a wonderful presentation to our Fetu Ta’i donors group in February at an event hosted by Rose and John Dunn in their home. Another past intern Jodi Meadows curated Sauniga for Tautai which was held in March alongside the Artspace exhibition the politics of sharing at a temporary site in Lorne Street. Jodi bought together three young men Pati Solomona Tyrell, Saint Andrew Matautia and Uelese Vavae in what was a very strong show. Waiheke born and current Elam student Naawie Tutugoro accepted the role of curating an exhibition at the Waiheke Community Art Gallery. How You Hear Me also

opened in March – Aucklanders will remember the night as being one of the wettest on record, a fact which did not deter the community from making the ferry trip to attend the opening. On our last day in the office before closing for Christmas our landlord advised that they would be carrying out remedial work in our space over the Christmas break. We needed to prepare to be out of the office (and move all our furniture etc) while the work was being done. The hope was that we would be back by end of January. After moving twice to temporary sites we finally moved back into our fabulous offices at the end of March, feeling a bit battered and bruised by the experience – but with newfound respect (and empathy) for people in Wellington and Christchurch living in temporary spaces. It's great to be back! In March I was lucky enough to travel to Honolulu to attend the opening events taking place around the inaugural Honolulu Biennial. Through our Fetu Ta’i patrons' donations Tautai was able to provide support for the HB

by contracting Ioana Gordon Smith as Project Manager in NZ. Ioana’s application to CNZ on their behalf provided funds which enabled Greg Semu, Fiona Pardington, Brett Graham, John Vea, Yuki Kihara and Lisa Reihana’s work to be part of the HB and for the artists (except Greg who could not attend) to also travel to Honolulu to attend the opening. It was exciting being amongst work showcasing art from the region. We finished March in style by providing the opportunity for 35 members of our extended whanau to spend a day on the ocean-going vaka Aotearoa1. Not a lot of wind on the day so not conducive to travelling far but the water was good for swimming and plenty of time to learn about vaka, navigation, to meet new people and to catch up with old friends – and chill out for a while. Our thanks to Te Toki Voyaging Trust and we hope there are chances for us to work together in the future. Kia manuia Christina Tautai Manager

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tautai artist in residence 2017 M

y time here in Auckland as the 2017 Tautai Artist in Residence has literally been a cultural voyage to say the least. One week before I left my small reservation in midwest of America, I was amongst Lakota women performing our annual buffalo harvest. The next week I found myself immersed in a sea of Polynesians at Pasifika. It was a stark but beautiful contrast from my Lakota culture. I was able to draw parallels between Lakota and Tongan culture through the innate love and respect shown throughout traditional practices. For example, both cultures have a deep understanding of the sacredness of water, the ancient knowledge of Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth. I’ve learned so much about myself that I’ve been longing to get in touch with. From participating with my Tongan relatives in the Queen Mother’s funeral services to wearing my first Taovala, I’ve felt so blessed and honoured. Since the day I arrived in New Zealand I’ve felt welcomed within the Pacific arts community. I’ve made strong everlasting ties with new brothers and sisters. As a photographer I’ve been inspired by the likes of Tongan photographer Emily Mafile’o. She has shown me what it takes to be a successful Indigenous Polynesian artist navigating the way for women within the industry.

No'o Fakataha - Tongan Art Collective. (Photo credit: Juliana Brown Eyes-Kaho)

As a musician I’ve connected with plenty of musicians on a wide spectrum of genres, appreciating every show and studio session I’ve been invited to. I’ve seen the power of community amongst the artists, as they have continually supported one another by helping with exhibitions or fundraisers. This last six weeks has changed my life forever as an artist and as a young woman continuing

on the journey of self discovery. From the rolling plains and buffalo in the midwest, to the beautiful white capped waves of the polynesian islands, thank you to everyone at Tautai and everyone I met on my path here. Pilamiya! Juliana Brown Eyes - Kaho Artist, musician, photographer and screen playwright


honolulu biennial O

n my third or fourth day in Honolulu, I got what I thought was concussion. I'd wanted to help with the install of the Honolulu Biennial, and offered (too loudly, too eagerly) to get up on a scissor lift with one of the technicians. I hoisted myself confidently up the steps, but had forgotten that there was a steel bar directly above my head. I smacked my head right against it - hard. In coming to Hawai'i, I hadn't planned to help on the install. For the past fifteen months, I've worked behind the scenes for Tautai and HBF as the NZ-based project manager and seeking funding for the six Aotearoa artists presenting at the Biennial. But the timing of my visit to Honolulu meant that I would see more of the install than the final exhibition. I'm glad I arrived on site to see a mix of artists, technicians, curators and volunteers working tirelessly, collegially to realise a shared vision: a biennial exhibition in the Pacific, about the Pacific, for Pacific peoples. I couldn't help but want to be part of that in a way that was hands-on. The inaugural Honolulu Biennial has been a significant first step for everyone involved. In most major international exhibitions, Pacific art is a subsection in a global sampling of artistic practice. The Honolulu Biennial, which opened on March 8, is unique in that the Pacific - understood in the Biennial as the Pacific Ocean - is it’s only and total focus, though with an emphasis on Hawai’i. As its exhibition title - Middle of Now | Here - might indicate, the Honolulu Biennial has an unapologetic agenda to redress the Hawai’in Islands (and the wider Pacific) not as peripheral, but as an essential and resonant nexus point. In doing so, the Honolulu Biennial locates Hawai’i as a thriving place of convergence. It's this convergence that makes the Biennial so meaningful. Without being limited to minor

Brett Graham, Target Island and Target Island 2, 2017, fibreglass-reinforced concrete. (Photo credit: Ioana Gordon-Smith)

representation in a more global overview, issues facing the Pacific can be presented multiple times by different artists, offering a much richer investigation into timely concerns. A number of different artists, for example, looked at climate change, or the effects of Western agendas in Pacific nations, or cultural survivance. But this convergence also manifested socially. Led by Creative Director Fumio Nanjo, Director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and Curator Ngahiraka Mason, the Biennial also has a strong indigenous agenda, making the opening an important event for indigenous curators, writers, enthusiasts and artists to gather together. During the install, I would meet many of them, because everyone was willing to do anything. In Tāmaki Makaurau, we often use the term 'Pacific Arts' to describe arts made by people of

Pacific heritage living in Aotearoa. Though the Biennial would have six Aotearoa artists (the biggest contingent, second only to artists from Hawai'i/USA), the Biennial makes clear how much more expanded Pacific arts is. Ngahiraka, in an online essay, writes that one purpose of the Biennial is to ensure local artists "are conversant with our nearest neighbours." The install was this act of relationship building in action. The Honolulu Biennial is a staunch reminder of the how dynamic art practice and its surrounding discourse is in the Pacific, rich enough without having to look further afield. Ioana Gordon-Smith Curator and Writer Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery

Greg Semu, Body of Dead Christ (diptych), 2016, digital photograph prints of acrylic lightbox. (Photo credit: Ioana Gordon-Smith)


sauniga A

s Sauniga really started to come into realisation, an opportunity was offered to us by Artspace. They asked if Tautai would like to join them and exhibit Sauniga alongside their exhibition Politics of Sharing at their offsite location. It was with the spatial vision of architect Kimberly Reid and the generous curatorial guidance from Artspace Director Misal Adnan Yildiz that saw Sauniga come to life. The offsite location was on the 7th floor of the ICL building, Lorne Street, Auckland, formerly an office space. The challenge was to create an interior that celebrated the work but in a pop-up style. A key decision in this process was to not hang any of the works on the walls but instead explore options for how we could create temporary walls to divide the very open rectangle space and hang the works all in one. Kimberly came up with a great design that used only two materials, 2x4 treated timber and black builders paper. An unexpected combination that spoke to the industrial setting we were occupying. Uelese Vavae’s Faletua portraits were hung on exposed timber framing, perfectly spaced between the cross sections of timber. The portraits dominated the frame and the little peeps of pink 2x4 frame really complimented the subtle femininity of the portraits. Andrew Matautia’s beautifully framed photographs were hung on timber framing wrapped in black builders' paper. Using both sides of the walls, the order of the portraits could be arranged according to the stage of Matautia’s narrative in his series. This positioning of the walls gave me the opportunity to create conversations between Matautia’s photographs and the other works in the exhibition.

Sauniga exhibition photo, ICL Building. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

Pati Solomona- Tyrell’s work was perhaps the biggest challenge because we had to figure out how to create a space that was dark enough for a projection as well as suspend floor to ceiling paper prints of his portraits, knowing we couldn’t screw anything into the ceiling. Black builders’ paper suspended over wires pulled across the ceiling wall to wall allowed us to thread the paper over the wires and leave it loosely hanging down the wall, extending the paper and leaving it on the roll at the end of the projection. Leaving a lovely drop of black paper to act as a makeshift screen for projection. With no fancy track lighting the fluorescents were simply unscrewed from the roof tiles to limit light. We introduced backlighting into the space to highlight the printed portraits by using floodlights. We pushed the ceiling tiles out and placed the lights up into roof shining them directly onto the back wall,

illuminating the pops of colour in SolomonaTyrell’s photographs perfectly. Vinaka vaka levu to everyone that was involved in helping to get Sauniga out of my head and into reality. It takes a small, very hard working army. I once heard Siliga Setoga say that every art work shown together in an exhibition will now be held within the vā of the other work that surrounds it, forever connected. It has been an honour to work with Artspace and for the artists of Sauniga an opportunity to show their work in the same space with some of Aotearoa New Zealand leading contemporary artists, I hope their work will carry this experience with it wherever it goes in the future.

Visitors at the opening of Sauniga, ICL Building, Lorne Street, Auckland. (Photo credit: Robert George)

Jodi Meadows Curator CNZ/Tautai Pasifika Intern 2015


vaHine: catching the trade wind I

n Aukilani the month of March symbolises many things for me: it is a time where we celebrate all things Pasifika; I demolish an unusually high (and not recommended) amount of Pacific island food; and like most of you, I am run off my feet trying to get to all the celebrations. Now living outside of the city that has the largest Pacific Island population, makes me revel in the breadth of exhibitions and events in Aukilani that celebrate the Pacific. A highlight of my recent trip to the city was a visit to the exhibition Vahine: Catching the Trade Wind at Whitespace Gallery. This exhibition celebrates fifteen years of the VaHine Collective, which is made up of artists Lonnie Hutchinson, Lily Laita and Niki Hastings-McFall. A notable feature of this show is the unique display of works, both existent and new. From Niki’s light works Home from the Sea, made anew in the window space, to Lonnie’s diverse selection of prints, ink paintings, and her signature black paper cutouts. Familiar motifs

such as the provocateur Black Pearl appear in S.O.F.T and The Huntress. Further provocation is seen in the suite of ink and acrylic from her series Light My Fire where the female form is presented in playful ways. The show also offers insight into their collective research interests. In 2012 and again in 2015 the collective were awarded the artist-in-residence at National University of Samoa. During their residency they discovered symbols, patterns and shapes that revealed the significance of lupe (pigeons) and tiaseulupe (pigeon snaring) in Samoan culture. This ongoing research has manifested in each of the artist’s practices which can be traced across the exhibition. This is expressed most clearly in Lily’s mixedmedia works where figures of lupe are used as a symbol of traditional Samoan beliefs as well as a way to comment on current world issues. For instance, the triptych Ifoga depicts draped human figures with pe’a (male tattoo) who appear to be conducting a ceremony with the lupe.

A broader interest in birds is also seen in Niki’s new series of glass sculptures, Depression Troughs Posing. An assortment of vintage 'collectable' crafted glass shapes such as hearts and diamonds are arranged on top of mirrored surfaces to create beautiful and intriguing shadows across the wall. With a colour scheme of green, blue and orange hues which nod to 1930s art deco design, some are arranged and titled after birds which include Ruru, Bluebird and Piwakawaka. Collectively, the exhibition is a celebration of three strong wahine and is well worth a visit. Ane Tonga Artist and Curator Lead Exhibition Curator, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa.

Niki Hastings-McFall, Lonnie Hutchinson & Lily Laita at the opening of their exhibition VaHine, Whitespace, Auckland. (Photo credit: Whitespace)


tautai vaka day 31 March 2017

T

hirty five artists took up Tautai’s invitation to spend a day on the ocean going vaka Aotearoa1. The crew were keen to share their

knowledge about navigation and tell voyaging stories while taking our group for a sail. Toki Voyaging Trust’s mission is to revitalise waka culture and knowledge within the Pacific; protect

Group photo. (Photo credit: Tautai)

the environment, promote awareness of the oceans, pollution and climate change – and revitalise waka culture in the Pacific. A great day was had by all.

Numa MacKenzie, Sonny Natanielu and Juliana Brown Eyes Kaho with captain John-Reid Willison. (Photo credit: Tautai)

Pascal Atiga-Bridger. (Photo credit: Tautai)

Onboard the Vaka. (Photo credit: Tautai)

darcell apelu

Darcell Apelu performs I move just a little at the exhibition opening of All Lines Converge at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. (Photo credit: Mark Dwyer)


Team Tautai:

Patron: Fatu Feu’u Board of Trustees: Nina Tonga and Siliga David Setoga (co-chairs), Ron Brownson, John Gandy, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Janet Lilo

Treasurer/Secretary: Colin Jeffery

Christina Jeffery (Manager), Petrina Togi-Sa’ena (Program Leader), Tina Pihema (Arts Administrator), Robert George (Digital Media), Pascal Bridger (Tertiary Liaison Auckland), Etanah Lalau-Fuimaono (Tertiary Liaison Wellington) Kenneth Merrick (Newsletter Co-ordinator)

PO Box 68 339, Newton, Auckland, 1145 Phone: 09-376 1665 Tautai Office: Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Auckland Email: tautai@tautai.org Website: www.tautai.org

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gallery

Emily Mafile’o, Ko Tonga Mo’unga ki he Loto exhibition opening, Māngere Arts Centre. (Photo credit: Māngere Arts Centre)

Jamie Berry, When Will I See You Again, Fresh Gallery Otara. (Photo credit: Sam Hartnett)

Olga Krause, Still, Like Air, I Rise, ST PAUL St Gallery. (Photo credit: Tautai)

Curator Naawie Tutugoro speaking at the opening of how you hear me, Waiheke Community Art Gallery. (Photo credit: Tautai)

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Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust receives major public funding from Creative New Zealand and also receives significant funding from Foundation North and generous support from our Fetu Ta’i donors Rose and John Dunn, Adrian Burr, Philippa Archibald, Art + Object, Ema Aitken and David Galler, Kriselle Baker and Richard Douglas, Phif and Grant Bettjeman, Rosie Brown and Graham Wall, Sherry and Gary Butler, Jenny and Rick Carlyon, Joanna and John Chaplin, Chartwell Trust, Angela and Mark Clatworthy, Annie Coney, Christine Fenby and Greg Gaylor, Virginia and Stephen Fisher, Antonia Fisher and Stuart Grieve, Friedlander Foundation, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Jo and Terry Gould, Jo and John Gow, Josephine and Ross Green, Cathy and Michael Hapgood, Anne and Peter Hinton, Sally and Peter Jackson, Dayle and Chris Mace, Geri and Richard Martin, Kathy and Bill Peake, Fran and Geoff Ricketts, Jenny and Andrew Smith, Madelene Strong, Pip Muir and Kit Toogood, Fran Wyborn

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