I'm excited to be showing alongside Yuma Taru, Don Don Hounwn, Anchi Lin, George Nuku and the a Bit na Ta artists in the exhibition WAWA: Art in the Contemporary Pacific. The exhibition (curated by Chien Cheng-yi and Tseng Mei-Chen) opens Saturday 7 October 2017 and runs until 20 February 2018 at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan.
A pop-up destination for researchers, artists and book lovers, The Community Reading Room (CRR) holds space for individuals who identify as First Nations and People of Colour to encounter texts that acknowledge and place their lived experience and practice at the centre, rather than the margin.
Fijian-Australian artist and academic Torika Bolatagici has critically curated and lovingly gathered an extensive repository of texts spanning contemporary art and theory from Oceania, Africa and the Americas – postcolonial art, literature and philosophy on migration, citizenship and cultural identity.
Part intervention, part education and part inspiration, CRR is a discursive project that invites us to consider the inclusivity of public spaces and to contemplate how our knowledge institutions privilege particular ways of knowing and being. Drop in, peruse the selection of texts, and join us for D I S P L A C E A N D D I S P L A N T, a closing event hosted by Still Nomads and CRR that sees black artists – First Nations, Afro-diasporic and Pasifika – share words, visuals, sounds and space.
Created & Devised by:
For more information visit Arts House.
Sista Zai and Arts Centre Melbourne present #BlackGirlMagic Melbourne. The Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe, the home of new, cutting edge and classic Afrikan literature is popping up at The Arts Centre Melbourne with an incredible lineup of Black Girl Magicians in a show curated and hosted by Sista Zai.
After an herstorical Sydney premier, Sista Zai is ready to spoil Melbourne audiences with the phenomenal transformative and healing power of #BlackGirlMagic. Headlined by Kween G (SYD) a legendary femcee who broke ground with the herstorical reggae-Dancehall outfit KILLAQUEENZ, #BlackGirlMagic Melbourne will certainly give you enough life to push through this Melbourne winter.
With a literary line up sprinkled with more than a healthy dose of magic, love and respect for First Nations women, this is an unmissable event. Peep the Facebook event for tickets and final line up.
Transoceanic Visual Exchange
I'm thrilled to be working in the second iteration of the Transoceanic Visual Exchange with Fresh Milk Barbados and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
Fresh Milk and Footscray Community Arts Centre are pleased to welcome submissions of recent film and video works by contemporary artists for the second edition of Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE) – a series of programs taking place this year between Barbados and Australia. Submitted video works can include screenings, installations, new media and expanded cinema, must have been completed in the last five years and created by artists practicing in the Caribbean, Pacific Islands and their diasporas.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 30 June 2017
- Must be work from artists practicing in the Caribbean, Oceania (Pacific Islands) and their diasporas
- Must be work that has been completed/made in the last five years.
- Can be films of any length (shorts, experimental, features and video artworks)
- Can be in any language (films originally produced in regional languages are welcome)
- Multiple submissions are welcome
- Must be accompanied by a description of the work (500 words max), a bio (200 words max) and detail of any technical requirements i.e. audio, installation, equipment required, preferred setting etc.
- Works must be in the form of mp4 files no larger than 10MB, or private Vimeo / Youtube links
- Works must not have been submitted to the previous edition of TVE
For more information or application, please visit: https://transoceanicvisualexchange.com/call-for-submissions/
Presented in association with Fresh Milk as part of FCAC’s Call to Create Program.
On Wednesday 26th April 2017 I joined artists Judy Watson and Jessie Boylan for a panel discussion about artists who respond to histories of nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific. The panel was chaired by the UQ Anthropology Museum Dr Diana Young.
'Kirisimasi' is a documentary film that tells the story of the Fijian nuclear veterans who participated in Britain's nuclear testing program at Christmas Island and Malden Island in the 1950s.
In the 1950s, hundreds of Fijian soldiers and sailors were involved in Britain’s nuclear test program in the central Pacific, codenamed Operation Grapple. They witnessed nine atmospheric nuclear tests conducted between May 1957 and September 1958 at Christmas (Kiritimati) Island and Malden Island in the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony (today, part of the independent nation of Kiribati). Thousands of British military personnel, together with 524 New Zealand sailors and more than 260 Fijian soldiers and sailors, travelled to the central Pacific to participate in this testing program. Today, many suffer from health impacts that they attribute to exposure to hazardous levels of ionising radiation.
Despite a decade-long legal struggle and recent medical research highlighting genetic impacts, the UK Ministry of Defence refuses to acknowledge that any veterans’ health was affected.
Working with the Fiji Nuclear Veterans Association and a team of Fijian filmmakers, Nic and Torika are making a one hour documentary film about the history of the nuclear tests in 1957-58, letting Fiji’s surviving nuclear veterans tell their tale and describe the challenges they face today.
My final week at Fresh Milk Barbados was a flurry of public presentations, meetings with artists and making new work. Read the full post here...
I'm grateful to the wonderful team at Fresh Milk, Annalee and Katherine, for their incredible support, guidance and for providing the platform for intellectual and creative growth. I will never forget my month in Barbados, made more memorable by all the amazing artists I was fortunate to meet.
Vinaka vakalevu, until next time Barbados xx
Back in Australia and I've uploaded some work that was produced during my residency in Barbados. It's called The Camouflage Act, which is a real thing in Barbados. It is an offence to wear any camouflage, and it's not uncommon for camouflage clothing to be confiscated at the airport. Here's the official Act:
I was particularly intrigued by this law and as I spent more time getting to know Barbadians and more about the history and culture, I started to think of the Camouflage Act as a metaphor for what is seen and what is concealed. So I was thinking about the Barbadian landscape as I moved between the sea, the rural area, the urban space and began to understand this idea that the fauna here has been explanted from elsewhere, and the presence of plantation history was just below the surface.
This notion of a space that has been inhabited via different histories, yet one has been constructed as the most visible, and other histories erased - was interesting to me... more to come. Here's the work in progress....
The pace really started to intensify last week and I started to feel the pressure of being half way through the residency as I juggled writing, presentation preparation meetings with artists and other appointments around the island.. I am really feeling like I will be leaving with unfinished business… read the full blog on the Fresh Milk website.
On Monday, June 27, 2016 from 6-8 pm, I will be doing a presentation titled "Seeing the Black Pacific" at Fresh Milk Barbados. Barbadian artist Anisah Wood will also be presenting about her practice and residency experience so far.
Here's the blurb for my talk:
"During her residency in Barbados, Fijian-Australian artist Torika Bolatagici has been exploring the historical, cultural and biotic similarities of the island cultures of Fiji and Barbados. With shared histories of British colonization, cannibal mythology, indentured labour, tourism and a declining sugar industry there are as many parallels between the two countries as there are differences. Torika is interested in how contemporary artists from these respective regions respond to, reflect and represent the island cultures of Melanesia and the Caribbean.
In this presentation, Torika will give an overview of the diverse practices emerging from Australian-based artists of Melanesian and Indo-Fijian heritage;
Cultural Heritage, Revival and Redress; Julia Mage’au Gray (Papua New Guinea); Lisa Hilli (Papua New Guinea); Dulcie Stewart (Fiji). Performing Contemporary Oceanic Identities: Salote Tawale (Fiji); Eric Bridgeman (Papua New Guinea). Positioning the (Geo)political Pacific: Taloi Havini (Autonomous Region of Bougainville); Mohini Chandra (Fiji); Torika Bolatagici (Fiji).
This event is free and open to the public. For directions and more info see: https://freshmilkbarbados.com/2016/06/22/fresh-milk-xix/
"...During my weekend downtime, I continue to explore the island, and after a week of thinking about race, plantations, slavery and identity – the politics of space, visibility and invisibility are becoming more evident. The contrast between the chattels and fenced resorts remind me of the village/resort dichotomy of the Pacific. And as I look at the imported flora of the island, I’m thinking about what it means to explant botanical matter and what it means for a space to be ex-plantation..." Read my full blog post on the Fresh Milk Website.
My first blog post is live on the Fresh Milk website. I'll be blogging each week about my various activities while I'm here.
Key texts I have been been loving this week include:
- Art in Barbados: What Kind of Mirror Image?
- Caribbean Despatches: Beyond the Tourist Dream
- Caribbean: Crossroads of the World
- Curating in the Caribbean
- Developing Blackness: Studio Photographs of “Over the Hill”: Nassau in the Independence Era
- How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness
- Paulo Nazareth
- Pictures from Paradise
- See Me Here
It has been a crazy couple of days of delayed flights, redirections and lost luggage, but I have arrived in Barbados and begun my 1-month residency at Fresh Milk Barbados, I will be doing a weekly blog for their website, which you can find at: https://freshmilkbarbados.com/residencies/international-residents/
The team at Fresh Milk, Annalee Davis and Katherine Kennedy, have been so welcoming and the studio space and collection in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room is more than I could have imagined.
It's also been wonderful to connect with fellow artist-in-residence, Anisah Wood who lives locally. I'm really looking forward to participating in her "Quid Pro Quo: Skills Exchange" which kicks off this Friday 10 June.
Here are some pics from the past two days here:
I'm thrilled to announce that I have been awarded an Australia Council grant for my forthcoming residency in Barbados. During the month of June, I will be artist-in-residence at Fresh Milk Barbados. I will be undertaking research in the Colleen Lewis Reading Room; making new work; doing artist talks and connecting with local contemporary Bajan artists.
"The Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc. is a Caribbean non-profit, artist-led, inter-disciplinary organization that supports creatives and promotes wise social, economic, and environmental stewardship through creative engagement with society and by cultivating excellence in the arts."
A huge thank you to the Australia Council for the Arts for making this incredible opportunity possible!
My article 'Somatic soldier: embodiment and the aesthetic of absence and presence' has been published in the journal 'Critical Military Studies' (Routledge).
"The lived experience of the soldier has long been the subject of artistic inquiry and scholarly analysis. In this paper I reflect on my own art practice and research into Fijian military embodiment and the ways that Fijian soldiers and private security workers negotiate a liminal space between embodied indigenous knowledge (presence) and somaesthetic military practice (absence). As Maltby and Thornham (2012, 37) explain, “the dual articulation of the body constructs multiple understandings of it as simulta- neously lived and imagined, public and private, present and absent, experienced and represented”. I broaden these ideas around visibility/invisibility and the absence and presence of the military body through an analysis of key works by contemporary artists Lisa Barnard and Suzanne Opton..."
Use this link for free access: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ahmiVnv8Td3ign3NmHdk/full
6 Napier Street, Paddington
11am-6pm Wed to Fri, 11am-4pm Sat
Opening: Tuesday 1 March 5-7pm
Fijian military bodies have become a valuable commodity in the economy of war. In Somatic Sotia, Torika Bolatagici presents photographic, video and mixed-media works that explore Fijian masculinity, militarism and the intersections between gender, embodied knowledge, commodification, migration and globalization.
Drawing on her research into archival military footage of nuclear tests in the Pacific and contemporary soldier images from social media, the work in Somatic Sotia is concerned with the ways the Fijian military body has been mythologised and constructed through colonial and neo-colonial representation and the ways Fijian agency is performed in vernacular contexts.
I'm thrilled to have two works in the exhibition Vai Niu Wai Niu Coconut Water curated by Léuli Eshraghi and currently showing at Caboolture Regional Art Gallery:
"Coconut Water engages contested sites of movement and memory spanning shifting lands and waters right across the Moananui a Kiwa, Kiwa’s Great Ocean. Contemporary art practice in still and moving image, sculpture, print and performance address artists’ concerns, including indigeneity, displacement, plantation colonisation, ecological shift, memory, healing, and cultural renewal. Guest curator, Léuli Eshraghi, has been engaged by the MBRC Art Gallery Network for this exhibition..."
Dates: 27 November 2015 - 24 February 2016
Time: Monday to Friday: 9.00am - 4.00pm | Saturday: 9.00am - 3.00pm
Closed: 12.00noon 24 December 2015 - 4 January 2016 & 26 January 2016
Caboolture Regional Art Gallery - 4 Hasking Street, Caboolture