Seidah Karati

I’m still so mesmerized by a solo dance work by University of Auckland post-graduate student, Seidah Karati performed at the 2012 Pacific Dance Fono earlier this month. I have to find her and see her dance again – I’ve never been so inspired by a piece of dance!

Hand-made Media

I often tire of trying to get [mainstream] media makers to recognise the importance of the artists and exhibitions that take place at Fresh Gallery Otara. For example, in six years of operation, the nationally funded Pacific Island affairs television programme, Tagata Pasifika, has done less than five stories on Pacific artists and events at Fresh.

In 2011, I collaborated with Tanu Gago to make a series of videos about Pacific artists and exhibitions; we started to make our own media. I’m really proud of what Tanu has created and will be making more in 2012. Here’s a video he made on Angela Tiatia’s 2011 exhibition, Foreign Objects


South Auckland’s own FMC VXN has launched her debut music video for SOS (Sound of the Streets), a dream project realised after winning the Hustle It Fresh talent contest televised in 2011 on TVNZ’s Polynesian youth show, Fresh.

FMC VXN performed at Fresh Gallery Otara’s WHITE NIGHT event, part of the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival and again at the NiuFM Grassroots Mixer concert, part of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit (below).

FMC VXN has been part of the Fresh Gallery Otara community since the gallery was established in 2006, mostly via her sister, Leilani Kake. Leilani directed the music video for SOS (Sound of the Streets) with Tanu Gago; it was an awesome project to be part of various capacities.


I don’t wanna talk about it

"For the good times" (2011), Acrylic on canvas, 1500x1500mm by Molly Rangiwai-McHale


A solo exhibition by Molly Rangiwai-McHale

Fresh Gallery Otara

27 January – 25 February 2012

OPENING:  6pm – 8pm, Thursday 26 January

ARTIST TALK: 12pm – 2pm, Saturday 11 February

 I don’t wanna talk about it is a series of portraits of people who have been/are a part of my life, some for a moment, others years. They mark interactions that have changed the person I am and represent people that I’ve leant from and the wisdom we’ve shared. Being witness to them, sharing experiences outside of the spoken word, sharing time however long or short… just being included in their lives has taught me invaluable truths. They have not necessarily always been lessons I’ve wanted to learn, but which I have benefited from all the same and have become stronger because of it. They are paintings of people I love/d (and people I just think are effing cool).”

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds

Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds – A solo exhibition by Leilani Kake
Curated by Ema Tavola for the Auckland Arts Festival
Fresh Gallery Otara
South Auckland
Aotearoa New Zealand
4 March – 16 April 2011

Women, Water and the Moon

Fresh Gallery Otara is a community gallery in the Otara Town Centre, frequented by children, students, artists and the elderly. It has a mandate to reflect life in Otara, to engage audiences and stimulate discussion.

Leilani Kake is a member of the Otara community; an educator, mother, artist – a staunch ambassador for the Southside. Armed with strong cultural foundations and a firm foothold in a South Auckland / South Pacific reality, her four-channel video installation bravely confronts the cultural taboo of nudity. Whilst mass media imagery of women’s bodies floods our visual landscape, public displays of female nudity in a community context has the potential to inspire controversy and discomfort.

Inspired by the disproportionate statistics of preventable cervical and breast cancer amongst Māori and Pacific women, the artist invites viewers to consider the body and how we perceive it. And further, to consider that relationship in relation to our wellbeing as a community.

Enveloped in the watery darkness of this work, we are alone with our thoughts. The work’s four walls represent four pou, four stages of womanhood. In the watery darkness, the balance between the women, the water and the moon is in constant flux. As viewers, we are the centre of the gaze – confronted and surrounded, fluctuating between comfort and discomfort.

This work delivers the impact typical of Kake’s practice, speaking to the human condition, universal and primitive, and simultaneously to the special cultural context of indigenous women of the Pacific region.

Known for her emotional, performance-based practice referencing ritual and tradition, family and relationships, Kake’s visual language encourages her community to engage with issues affecting them. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds exposes the inextricable links joining Polynesian femininity to power, religion, sexuality and privacy.

In terms of scale and content, this is the most significant exhibition ever produced for Fresh Gallery Otara. Kake has been part of the Gallery’s community since it opened in 2006. She has been educated and trained in Otara and continues to live and work here. It is perhaps the most appropriate exhibition for us to present in the regional Auckland Arts Festival programme, to represent the site-specific curatorial approach that has been fostered here.

We are hugely grateful for the opportunity to present this exhibition for the Auckland Arts Festival, and for the significant support from Manukau Institute of Technology Department of Creative Arts and Toi o Manukau. The support from my colleagues in Arts and Culture South, Auckland Council, have made this project a reality; thank you so much.

Ema Tavola
Pacific Arts Coordinator
Auckland Council South

Hand Made Exhibition // DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND was a user-generated drawing installation that was developed at Fresh Gallery Otara over three weeks in November 2010. The gallery’s community was invited to make drawings to be part of a constantly evolving mural-in-pieces. It stands as a fascinating insight into the lives and times of the community surrounding Fresh Gallery Otara. Over 400 drawings were made with over 300 installed on the Gallery’s walls. Censorship applied to explicit gang associated and/or pornographic/offensive imagery and tagging.

Some of my favourite drawings:

This is one of many drawings by Fa’a, he’s 11 years old and goes to St John The Evangelist School in Otara.

Unknown artist.

Tanu Gago contributed some Jerry The Fa’afafine

Unknown artist.

Click here for a full album of photographic documentation of DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

Click here to follow Fresh Gallery Otara on Twitter

Rimoni // A shot in the dark

A Manurewa photographer takes an honest approach to capturing open public spaces, writes Sharu Delilkan // The Aucklander – South Edition

Raymond Sagapolutele refers to himself as a “brotographer”.

“I used to be known for saying ‘bro’ all the time. It’s a term I use to describe myself, not a reference to the subject matter I shoot,” says the photographer who’s showing his first collection of shots.

Just like his unconventional description of himself, subverting convention and challenging media stereotypes is the main thrust of Honest?!?.

The exhibition of black and white photographs shows “images of South Auckland through my eyes”, he says.

“Rather than just doing typical South Auckland shots, I prefer taking shots of people and places with a refreshing perspective.”

The 38-year-old from Manurewa says he started off taking cliched landscape shots but realised very quickly that every other photographer seemed also to be doing that. So he looked for subjects that would distance his work from everyone else’s.

“I shoot a lot in the middle of the night. I love going to places that wouldn’t be considered photogenic. For example, I opt to go to places that would otherwise be busy during the day and take pictures when they’re empty.”

Sagapolutele, who has only been doing photography seriously for four years, says he discovered his knack for it by accident.

“I used to mess around with my wife’s camera after she’d come back from her night photography classes and realised I was on to a good thing.”

Following 15 years working in finance, he quit his job in 2003 to immerse himself in multimedia courses.

“Most of my learning has been self-taught. I prefer that to formal learning.”

A regular photographer for Rip It Up magazine and Dawn Raid, Sagapolutele says he prefers to work without a set agenda.

“If you do what is true to yourself, the likelihood is that you’ll get an honest reflection of what you’re after.”

Honest?!?, Fresh Gallery Otara, Shop 5, 46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, until October 24.
Artist Talk: 12pm, Saturday 17 October. Free entry.
For more information, ph 271 6019.

MyFace – A solo exhibition by Janet Lilo

Janet Lilo presents an exploration of provocative photography that comes straight out of popular culture via the web through social networking platforms. The photographs that are amassed provide a serious reflection on the preoccupation people seem to have with editing their identity and self-representation.

Fiji artists Luisa Tora + Sangeeta Singh at Fresh Gallery Otara

FGO daily shots | Saturday 13 June

MyFace is part of the Auckland Festival of Photography

A limited edition exhibition catalogue is available for free at Fresh Gallery Otara, featuring this essay by Wellington-based writer, Tessa King.

MyFace is an exploration of visual artist Janet Lilo’s fascination with social networking sites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, and in particular the way people use them as a platform for personal expression and identity in the form of self-portraiture.

Lilo looks at how users unwittingly challenge attitudes towards the photographic self-portrait. The widespread ownership of digital cameras makes self-portraiture easy, and the fact that an unflattering image can so easily be deleted and replaced with one that is more satisfactory means network-users are posting only those photos that represent exactly how they want to be seen.

The photographs that make up MyFace draw the viewer in, provoking a response of mixed fascination and embarrassment – indicative of self-portraiture photography’s new, and indeed still delicate, near-acceptance. The nature of the images causes a curious tension between public and private space, inspiring an awkward sense of voyeurism from the viewing of seemingly private photographs in a very public space.

Lilo has taken this public viewing a step further than the internet, effectively ‘stealing’ these images from the social networking sites they have been posted on and placing them in a different public space, one unhindered by the confines of that pseudo-private realm. Network-users take photos of themselves in the most private of places – in bathrooms and bedrooms where they will not be ‘seen’ – but then confound this apparent embarrassment by posting the results on the most public of forums, the internet, often with no restrictions on their privacy settings.

Taking advantage of this, Lilo takes these photos out of their original context to expose a false sense of privacy encouraged by the fact that much internet use takes place alone and at home. But once a photo is posted publicly, fellow users can do what they will with images, as Lilo has done with MyFace.

The photographs range from blatant self-portraiture with arms extended at the edge of the frame and the subject looking directly into the lens, to images expertly made to look as though they were taken by a third party. Within these styles there is the sexual, the strange, the doe-eyed cutesy, and the rather mundane, as people seek to manipulate the way in which they are seen by the world.

Tessa King
June 2009

Janet Lilo’s Pecha Kucha Night presentation, November 2008
Pecha Kucha Night #11, Manukau Edition, Aotearoa New Zealand
Courtesy of Pecha Kucha Nights Aotearoa website

Janet Lilo, Skyping from Sapporo, Japan – Thumbs up to Young, Gifted & Samoan!

REPRESENT at Fresh Gallery Otara

REPRESENT artists: Genevieve Pini, Ema Tavola, Jane-Anne Akamoeau & Fofoga Setoga-Tuala

REPRESENT series by Genevieve Pini

Jane-Anne Akamoeau | Genevieve Pini | Fofoga Setoga-Tuala | Ema Tavola
18 April – 10 May 2008

Four Pacific photo media artists reflect on the people and spaces that contribute to their understanding of place and belonging in Manukau City, South Auckland. They offer insights into their lives and experiences, documenting events and mapping a photographic global / local geography of time and space and connections.

Joseph Ioretto Po series by Fofoga Setoga-Tuala

Fofoga Setoga-Tuala has extensively documented the life of a young New Zealand born Samoan man, from his life in suburban South Auckland to the process of being bestowed a chiefly matai title, in his village in Samoa. The work explores people and relationships, formality, pride, accountability and identity. Jane-Anne Akamoeau explores the relationship her children have with their family, illustrating how collective family experiences and foundational relationships have shaped their understanding of the world around them. The work acknowledges the role of family and extended family. Reflecting on initial plans to produce a series of self-portraits, Genevieve Pini depicts fragments of her space through domesticity and children. Her work explores Otara as an extension of enquiry into Samoa and Samoans, performance and gathering, Samoan marking of the body and the land. Ema Tavola’s photos depict people-less landscapes and daily sights from everyday life in Mangere, Otara and Papatoetoe. As observations, they are literal and personal drawing attention to oft overlooked vistas in the urban South Auckland landscape.

Each artist speaks to elements of contemporary Pacific experience in New Zealand. From collective upbringing and extended family to the transnational lives of New Zealand Samoans, the artists represent pride and cultural continuity and an evolving generational sense of belonging to this space. This exhibition is site-specific at Fresh Gallery Otara. It aims to address common misrepresentations of the richness and pride, and the complexities of cultural relocation and socio-political realities of Pacific people in South Auckland.

More photos from REPRESENT at Fresh Gallery Otara

FAMILY WITHIN series by Jane-Anne Akamoeau


More photos by Ema Tavola from sub urbia 2008 series