#KadavuPower

Fiji women were 100% present at the recent UNICEF Youth Congress held at Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae in Auckland. I spoke in a panel about art as a platform for social activism, after sessions by Sainimere Veitata, Co-chair of the Econesian Society at the University of the South Pacific (Suva, Fiji) and Merewalesi Nailatikau, UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador. Merewalesi was crowned Miss Hibiscus and went on to be the first Fijian woman to take out the Polynesian-dominated Miss South Pacific beauty pageant in 2009. She is brains + beauty in a big way!

My South Auckland comrade, Luisa Tora, came to support. Luisa and I are working on an upcoming project to commemorate Fiji Day in the South Auckland suburb of Otahuhu. In an exhibition of posters featuring artwork by 7 Fiji women artists, diasporadic679 will be installed in the windows and public spaces of 6 venues over 9 days. The numerical reference is to Fiji’s international telephone prefix.

The exhibition will be part of the newly re-branded Southside Arts Festival (previously Manukau Festival of Arts) which runs from 14 October – 6 November 2011.

diasporadic679 takes its name partly from Luisa Tora’s made-in-South-Auckland zine, diasporadic and represents an ongoing relationship between Fiji women artists Sangeeta Singh, Margaret Aull, Torika Bolatagici, Dulcie Stewart, Tagi Qolouvaki, Luisa and myself.

The diasporadic679 blog has just been established and will be updated daily leading up to the project which runs from 17-25 October.

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WWJD: What Would Jim Do?

I took this photo in 2009. I was visiting Tracey Tawhiao’s salon on the first floor of St Kevin’s Arcade to get specs for two exhibitions I produced there that year. And Jim popped in, and we sat in the afternoon sun and caught up.

Jim Vivieaere passed away on Friday 3 June 2011. I heard through cell phones and text messages and I cried all afternoon. Jim was pivotal in my life and thinking, my work in exhibitions, advocacy and curating.

Under Jim’s guidance, I got my first taste of curating assisting him to produce a show called Niu Dialogue in 2004 at The Edge in central Auckland. I remember feeling so excited after that gig, because I felt like he gave me the trade secrets, the ‘how to’ of curating… I observed how he selected works, considered them in the space, his gracious hosting, his beautiful themed catering, his aura. He was awesome. I feel like that experience ignited my fire for curating and the artform and importance of representing artists.

During my undergraduate studies, I researched Jim’s curatorial and visual arts practice; it represented to me a bold and articulate statement about Pacific diaspora experience. His work and its recognition in mainstream institutions, publications and communities, was so empowering and validating. At the time, Jim was also supporting the exhibition of student work from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate at Otara’s Artnet Gallery (now Fresh Gallery Otara). I witnessed him working with the same measure of professionalism and artistic integrity at the grassroots as he did in major art institutions.

In 2010, I organised the Curating Pacific Art Forum and Jim spoke with such eloquence about his practice and the struggles and opportunities of working as an independent curator.

We all acknowledged Jim that day. An absolute leader in curating Pacific art.

I loved how hard Jim would fight to impress a point, whether at an exhibition opening or a Tautai Trust gathering… he was such an inspirational, passionate advocate for Pacific art and artists.

This year, I was so humbled that even in ill-health, Jim attended the 2nd Curating Pacific Art Forum. It was noted that we all have ‘Jim stories’ – the many, many ways Jim has influenced our lives and practices as Pacific curators.

Jim’s passing has made me reflect hard. I’ve been thinking about how everything matters… the legacy that is left from the work we do will influence and inspire those that come after.

I feel like my curatorial practice is the product of Jim’s influence, and I want to honour his work and fight in everything I produce.

I think I’ll always think of Jim, in every show that I curate and ask myself, What Would Jim Do?

A beautiful tribute to Jim on Tagata Pasifika [TVNZ] aired on Thursday 9 June 2011

The Sea and Me

I just got a beasty new tattoo. It was very, very painful and/but I love it. Thank you, Fred Raph. Niiiiice work.

I love the poem, To A Young Artist In Contemplation (for allan) by Sia Figiel… this is an exert:

and when no one else listens
and when no one else understands you
go back to the sea
and scream
(in silence)
and the mana of salt
will heal
over and over
as you begin y(our) journey
again
and again
and again…

Mana Takatāpui: Taera Tāne

I traveled to Wellington with artist Tanu Gago for the opening of Mana Takatāpui: Taera Tāne curated by Reuben Friend for Deane Gallery, City Gallery Wellington. The group exhibition features Tanu’s work alongside Fear Brampton, Richard Kereopa, Dan Taulapapa McMullin and Hoteera Riri. Programmed to coincide with the Wellington Outgames, the exhibition opened in January and runs until late March.

“This work is concerned with the construction of masculine identities among young urban Pacific gay males, exploring notions of visibility, character play, performance, sexuality and gender stereotype.” – Tanu Gago

The series of four A1 size photographs was produced in South Auckland and shot by Indo-Fijian photographer, Vinesh Kumaran under the artistic direction from Tanu Gago. The series is inspired by a poem by Dan Taulapapa McMullin, which is presented alongside the work. Tanu was able to produce this work with the assistance of a grant from the Pacific Arts Committee of Creative New Zealand.

Tanu will be in Wellington on Friday 18 March for, Open City – Out in the Gallery, a special public programme event for the Wellington Outgames that features performances by Richard Kereopa, poetry by Dan Taulapapa McMullin and lots more.

Photos from Mana Takatāpui: Taera Tāne

Photos documenting the making of the work

FMC VXN at Fresh Gallery Otara!

South Auckland’s FMC VXN is performing at Fresh Gallery Otara for the region-wide Auckland Arts Festival WHITE NIGHT programme this Saturday 12 March from 9pm onwards!

The evening starts with Leilani Kake’s artist talk, discussing her brand new work, Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds from 6.30pm onwards.

FMC VXN was announced last week as the supreme winner of HUSTLE IT FRESH, a talent quest televised on TVNZ’s new hit Pacific youth programme, FRESH.

This will be FMC VXN’s FIRST gig since the announcement, right here on her home ground!

Fresh Gallery Otara presents WHITE NIGHT is a free event taking place at Fresh Gallery Otara, 5/46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand.

6pm – Midnight, Saturday 12 March

ALL WELCOME!