Curator, Luisa Tora, discusses the exhibition Wantok for Pacific Radio News.Published on Jul 25, 2018.
It was such a joy to chat with these three game changers last Thursday for the Emerging Writers Festival at the State Library of Victoria. As founders of various book/lit-related collectives based in Narrm (Melbourne) we discussed the texts that inspire us, community building, creating spaces for critical consciousness, and finding comfort and strength in reading together.
These peeps are doing really amazing and inspiring work! It was an absolute pleasure to chair this panel and a huge thanks to Aisha from EWF for curating the session x
"Torika Bolatagici’s striking Tadrua Series (the space between) (2018) is six large scale portraits of strong, brown skinned women and girls with curly hair maintaining mesmerising connections with the camera. They are larger than life, a kind of feminine futuristic visual anthropology of Oceania. Whilst each image represents the same upper part of the body, each subject holds themselves differently; there are anthologies in the stories behind their eyes, equal parts strength and vulnerability in their postures, and pride and presence in their hair."
"PIMPI is driven by South Auckland-based writer, curator and advocate, Ema Tavola. Working from a foundation of love and loyalty for Oceania and South Auckland, PIMPI is a platform to advocate, discuss and foreground Pacific art and artists, identity and creativity within the Pacific diaspora. Drawing on more than ten years experience of arts administration, exhibition planning and implementation, gallery management, community engagement and arts leadership."
I'm thrilled to be chairing this panel for the Emerging Writers Festival next week:
Experimedia, State Library Victoria
328 Swanston St, Melbourne
Thursday 28 June, 2018
Founders of creative collectives Still Nomads, Negro Speaks of Books, Black Shell and Community Reading Room draw from the texts that inspire them, and speak to community building, creating spaces for critical consciousness, and finding comfort and strength in reading together.
With Torika Bolatagici, Areej Nur, Laila Thaker and Inez Trambas
A huge vinaka vakalevu to the team at The Genda Project for inviting me to share my story in their D I A S P O R A series in Sydney last weekend. It was an honour to share the stage with Sandyha Devi Nand, Faaris Ali, Bayvick Lawrence, Tia Roko, Sophie Foster and Dr Satish Rai - hosted by Emele Ugavule.
The Genda Project is a Fijian initiative that challenges norms; creating spaces and platforms for individuals to venture out of their comfort zones, discover the possibilities and connect to their own selves.
The videos will be posted on their YouTube channel in the coming months.
I'm excited to be participating in the forthcoming Genda Diaspora event in Sydney next month!
A live talk event featuring 8 Fijians settled in Australia sharing their stories and experiences on our theme "Home". The current series,#FijiansoftheWorld is touring Sydney, Brisbane & Auckland this year.
#GendaDiaspora, a series of live talks, strives to connect Fijian audiences to the many untold stories that have left the shores of Viti. We strive to open up conversations that challenge people of all ages to venture out of their comfort zone, question themselves, question others. A space to get inspired, discover the possibilities, connect to others and ultimately to their own selves.
When: Saturday 16th June, 2018
Where:The Bryan Brown Theatre and Function Centre, Bankstown
Tickets: On sale 15 May 2018
How do we find the light within the dark? How do we cultivate beauty out of trauma and begin to heal, for ourselves and one another? Both interdisciplinary and intercultural, Exhale is about Indigeneity, accountability and trauma. It explores the relationships and boundaries forged between Indigenous cultures on foreign lands; negotiations between environmental and urban lifestyles; and the ability to heal through storytelling.
I’m looking forward to hosting the Q&A with Emele and Ayeesha after the final performance tonight at Arts House.
Read recent interviews with Black Birds here:
WHERE TO FROM #METOO?
Saturday 6 May
In the wake of the #MeToo social media campaign and revived discussions on feminism, where does this leave gender equality in Australia today? How do we now strategically mobilise beyond online discussions to build sustainable movements and alternative institutions? This panel will discuss the intersections of violence enacted on feminine and femme bodies and how women can locate and embed agency in community, in work, and in love.
TextaQueen, Dawn Iris Dangkomen, Torika Bolatagici, Roj Amedi
"Nine Melanesian female artists based in Australia and Aotearoa, contributed the high impact works, commenting on the power and the colonisation of Pacifica women's hair in different ways. ‘Black Birds’ members Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash opened the morning with a performance in the gallery space. “It was important for us to be a voice for those who’ve lived outside of Fiji because that’s our lived experience and it’s a valid one, just as valid as those who do live back in Fiji. And not to say that one is better, but they are just different and they both deserve to hold space.” – Emele Ugavule"
Read more on the Coconet website.
"Deakin University, Melbourne, recently hosted another iteration Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE) from April 11th-27th, 2018 in ‘The Project Space‘, the contemporary & experimental exhibition space at Deakin’s Geelong Waterfront Campus.
On Thursday, April 26th, there was a special viewing and floor talk led by Dr. Torika Bolatagici, Lecturer (Art and Performance) at Deakin University, and our core partner for all of the Melbourne screenings of TVE."
WANTOK is an exhibition of Melanesian artists from Australia and Aotearoa exploring hair culture and the spiritual and symbolic meaning of the head and hair in many Pacific cultures. Curated by Luisa Tora.
Artists include: Jasmine Togo-Brisby (South Sea Islander/Aotearoa), Dulcie Stewart (Fiji/Australia), Torika Bolatagici with Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash (Fiji/Australia and Aotearoa/Grenada/Australia), Salote Tawale(Fiji/Australia), Tufala Meri (Reina and Molana Sutton, Solomon Islands/Aotearoa), kei Luisa Keteiyau Tora (Fiji/Aotearoa).
WANTOK provides the opportunity to recover and re-articulate Melanesian knowledges and practice following migration, and allow a decolonialised view of beauty and mana to develop.
11am Saturday, 21 April - 26 May 2018
Māngere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku
Celebrating 125 years of suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand.
WANTOK on Facebook
The Camouflage Act
C3 Contemporary Art Space
31.1.18 - 25.2.18
In Barbadian law ‘The Camouflage Act’ forbids civilians wearing any camouflage clothing. The law (which is enforced by the police) reflects broader notions of the visibility and invisibility of power in Barbados. Considered to be the first British plantation experiment, Barbados’ rich and complex history is a mix of colonialism, African slavery, Anglo indentured servitude and the myth of an ‘absent’ indigenous population. In Barbados, the flora and fauna are predominantly explanted, with only one gully on the island containing indigenous plant life. This new body of photographic and video work explores the politics of space, displacement, identity and belonging in Barbados where the traces of empire are palpable.
31 January 2018
The Abbotsford Convent
1 St Heliers St. Abbotsford
VIC 3067 Australia
10am – 5pm Wednesday to Sunday during exhibition periods.
Documentation photos by Jon Butt.
To kick off 2018 I'm excited to be working with Thelma Thomas, Emele Ugavule, Ayeesha Ash and Lienors Torre on a new Australia Council-funded project called Tabu: Fijian Kali and Hair Ritual that will premiere in the exhibition Wantok (curated by Luisa Tora) - part of Mangere Arts Centre - Nga Tohu o Uenuku’s programming marking the 125th anniversary of suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2018.
This project brings together visual and performing artists to explore traditional Fijian knowledge on the sacredness of the head, headrests (kali) and hair in Fijian culture. Museum research and community consultation will form the basis of our investigation as we reveal new ways of understanding contemporary Fijian hair practices and rituals extending the notion that objects are containers of memory. I'll be posting project updates on here - so watch this space :)
It was an absolute pleasure working with Natalie McGuire and Katherine Kennedy from Fresh Milk Barbados, to realise the 2nd iteration of the Transoceanic Visual Exchange, presented at Fresh Milk Barbados, Barbados Community College and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
The diverse program was presented as a series of screenings, screen and projection installations, panel discussions and a Digital Exhibition (showing from 20 Nov - 20 Dec 2017).
We were blessed to have Black Birds co-Artistic Director Emele Ugavule perform their extraordinary work Pehe live. Emele also joined Shivanjani Lal, Rodell Warner (Trinidad via Skype) and myself in a discussion about their work and TVE more broadly.
A huge thank you especially to Bo and Darren at FCAC and to the members of the community curatorial panel who gave so much of their time and energy to contribute to the conversation and shape the project; Pauline Vetuna, Kirsten Lyttle, Alec Reade, Yasbelle Kailomai, Seini Taumoepeau, Talei Richards, Ileni Kabalan and Jenny Fraser.
My essay "Somatic soldier: embodiment and the aesthetic of absence and presence" has been published in the book Embodying Militarism: Exploring the Spaces and Bodies In-Between, edited by Synne L. Dyvik and Lauren Greenwood (ISBN: 978-1-138-71519-6)
"How are militarism and militarisation embodied and why is it important to study these concepts together? This volume highlights a lack of research into people’s emotions, bodies and experiences in global politics, and brings these important dimensions to bear on how we study militarism and process of militarisation.
This collection showcases innovative research that examines people’s everyday lived experience and the multiple ways militarism is enshrined in our societies. Emphasising the benefits of interdisciplinary thinking, its chapters interrogate a range of methodological, ethical, and theoretical questions related to embodiment and militarism from a range of empirical contexts. Authors from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds reveal the myriad of ways in which militarism is experienced by gendered, raced, aged, and sexed bodies. The volume covers a wide range of topics, including the impact of social media; gender, queer, and feminist research on the military; the challenges of writing about embodied experience; and the commercialisation of military fitness in civilian life.
This book fills a gap in the study of militarism and militarisation and will be of interest to students and scholars of critical military studies, security studies, and war studies. It was originally published as a special issue of the journal Critical Military Studies." Source: Routledge
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.