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