Emerging Writers' Festival Panel by Torika Bolatagici

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I’m looking forward to chairing a panel for the Emerging Writers Festival next week. Join me with Anne-lise Ah-fat and Kylie Tran for a session called Remaking Libraries:

Libraries can be sites for the democratisation of access to knowledge, but they can also perpetuate systems and structures of knowledge that are exclusionary or elitist. Hear from the founders of alternative approaches to library building: the Community Reading Room, Incendium Radical Library and Đất Nước travelling library.

Kylie is a librarian at University of Melbourne with a keen interest in human rights issues, such as access to information and equitable services, as they relate to libraries and the communities they serve. She is part of Librarians for Refugees, Vietnamese for Refugees and the Đất Nước travelling library project. Lately she’s been researching Vietnamese writers of the diaspora as a way to connect with her Vietnamese identity.

Anne-lise Ah-fat is a community organiser, mother of two, facilitator and educator who is passionate about transformative justice. Anne-lise is a co-founder of Incendium Radical Library, IRL Infoshop and Undercurrent Community Education Project. Anne-lise is passionate about accountability, prison abolition and malleefowl. Anne-lise works with persons of diverse cultural and economic backgrounds and believes that social change can only occur collectively.  http://incendiumradicallibrary.com

This session is part of the Booked Up Masterclass. Tickets here: https://emergingwritersfestival.org.au/event/masterclass-booked-up/

Black Tourmaline by Torika Bolatagici

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It has been a massive 6-weeks at Testing Grounds! This Saturday 15 June, the latest iteration of the Community Reading Room / Black Tourmaline Project draws to a close and I want to express my deep gratitude to all the curators, artists, activators, facilitators and guests who have made this project so special and affirming. In alphabetical order:

Achut Thuc
Aisha Trambas
Alison Whittaker
Amarachi Okorom
Beaziyt Worcou
Demi aka demilition b-girl
Denise Chapman
DJ Naru
Emele Ugavule
Inez Trambas
Laniyuk
Lauren Gower
Maddee Clarke
Mary Quinsacara
Maxime Banks
Melo
Neil Morris
Sammie
Sista Zai Zanda
Soreti
Stash
Zack Ahmed

It has been a blessing and an honour to work with you all and I am grateful for the opportunity.

I would also like to thank the team at Testing Grounds - Molly, Arie and Nicole for their generosity and support leading up to and during the residency. I will miss the team and the space, and feel lucky that I was able to be a part of the Testing Grounds family twice over the past 3-years.

Also, I want to acknowledge the families, extended families, partners, children, pets, support people, friends and colleagues who have been there for everyone listed above. I don’t take this for granted. It takes a village.

And a huge thank you to the funding bodies > Black Tourmaline is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the Carstairs Prize, funded by a private donor and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). #navagrants <

Black Tourmaline...opening soon. by Torika Bolatagici

Postcard design:  Beaziyt Worcou  Image:  Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair (after Munari) : Torika Bolatagici

Postcard design: Beaziyt Worcou
Image: Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair (after Munari): Torika Bolatagici

Between 8 May and 15 June 2019, The Community Reading Room presents Black Tourmaline -  a space to consider the inclusivity of our education system, problematize ‘resilience’ narratives and contemplate how our institutions of knowledge privilege particular ways of knowing and being.

Over 6-weeks Torika Bolatagici, Beaziyt Worcou, this mob, Negro Speaks of Books, Mary Quinsacara and BLK School have curated a program of events and installations including panel discussions, audio interviews and workshops for focused reflection on how Black, Indigenous and people of colour experience mainstream education in an ‘Australian’ context with an emphasis on healing, self-determination, dreaming and visioning.

Transforming the ‘passive’ library into a participatory project, the artists invite the public to create an archive of lived experiences by contributing anonymous written reflections of their own education.

 This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the Carstairs Prize, funded by a private donor and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). #navagrants

 Black Tourmaline will be in-residence in the Black Cube at Testing Grounds from 08 May – 15 June 2019.  Testing Grounds is open 11am – 6pm Wednesday > Saturday.

PASS x CRR by Torika Bolatagici

A huge thank you to Sista Zai and Chimurenga / Pan African Space Station (PASS) for inviting the Community Reading Room to contribute a small collection of books to their recent installation and pop-up studio at MUMA.

Founded by Chimurenga in 2008, the Pan African Space Station (PASS) is a periodic, pop-up live radio studio; a performance and exhibition space; a research platform and living archive, as well as an ongoing, internet based radio station. 

https://panafricanspacestation.org.za/

So grateful to meet Dudu and Ntone and receive this 2005 edition of The Chimurenga Chronic for the Community Reading Room collection - featuring a tribute to Stuart Hall. The Chronic is available as an online gazette and appears as a quarterly publication in print and PDF.

Creative Victoria Funding <BLACK TOURMALINE> Project by Torika Bolatagici

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I’m so grateful to receive Creative Victoria funding for my next project at Testing Grounds in 2019. The Community Reading Room presents Black Tourmaline is a site-specific installation and participatory project that invites the public to contribute to an archive of lived-experiences of education over a period of 24-days. A program of workshops and panel discussions curated by Negro Speaks of Books, Blk School, Mary Quinsacara and this mob will unpack ideas around self-determined spaces for learning, healing and knowledge-sharing outside the academy.

Vinaka vaka levu Arts Victoria and all the amazing artists who contributed to the application X

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

2018 Carstairs Prize < Black Tourmaline > Testing Grounds 2019 by Torika Bolatagici

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I’m thrilled to announce that I have been awarded the 2018 Carstairs Prize for the Black Tourmaline project at Testing Grounds in 2019.

The Carstairs Prize aims to support socially engaged art projects that embrace participatory and collaborative experiences, bring participants into active dialogue with the artist in order to involve audiences beyond the art community. The annual prize is intended to contribute to artwork production costs to assist the successful applicant(s) to develop and present new work.

It is an absolute honour to receive the 2018 Carstairs Prize. This funding will enable the extension of the Community Reading Room project in 2019. Specifically the presentation of ‘Black Tourmaline’ at Testing Grounds - a site-specific installation and participatory project that invites the public to contribute to an archive of lived-experiences of education over a period of 24-days.

A program of workshops and panel discussions curated by Negro Speaks of Books, Blk School, Mary Quinsacara and this mob will unpack ideas around self-determined spaces for learning, healing and knowledge-sharing outside the academy. Thank you to the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Carstairs Prize donor for this wonderful opportunity.

Read more about the prize on the NAVA website and follow the Community Reading Room on Instagram for project updates.

This project is supported by the Carstairs Prize, funded by a private donor and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).  #NAVAgrants

This project is supported by the Carstairs Prize, funded by a private donor and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). #NAVAgrants

"Peace to us collectively ..." by Torika Bolatagici

L-R: Laila Thaker (Black Shell); Areej Nur (Still Nomads); Inez Trambas (Negro Speaks of Books) and Torika Bolatagici (Community Reading Room).

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

'Wantok' review by Ema Tavola by Torika Bolatagici

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"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."

Read the full review here.

"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."

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Lunchtime Lit: Collectives Book Club by Torika Bolatagici

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
12.30pm
Free

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

 

#GendaDiaspora by Torika Bolatagici

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.

 

Live Talk / Genda Project by Torika Bolatagici

Image credit: Zan Wimberley for NAVA.

Image credit: Zan Wimberley for NAVA.

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.

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#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. 

Finding You.
 

When: Saturday 16th June, 2018
Where:The Bryan Brown Theatre and Function Centre, Bankstown
Tickets: On sale 15 May 2018

 

 

 

Q&A with Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash at Arts House by Torika Bolatagici

Photo: Torika Bolatagici

Photo: Torika Bolatagici

Congratulations to the amazing Black Birds for their recent sell-out season at Arts House for their latest work Exhale.

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:

Black Birds: All-female Australian collective challenges Australian theatre to open its gates

ON Batch Festival: Brown Skin Girl with Ayeesha Ash and Emele Ugavule

Panel - Human Rights Arts and Film Festival by Torika Bolatagici

Image © Human Rights Arts and Film Festival

Image © Human Rights Arts and Film Festival

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.

Speakers
TextaQueen, Dawn Iris Dangkomen, Torika Bolatagici, Roj Amedi

Wantok Exhibition on Coconet by Torika Bolatagici

Image © Coconet.tv

Image © Coconet.tv

"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.

 

 

 

 

 

Transoceanic Visual Exchange at Project Space - Deakin University, Geelong by Torika Bolatagici

Floor talk, Thursday 26th April, 2018.

Floor talk, Thursday 26th April, 2018.

"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."

Source: https://transoceanicvisualexchange.com/

Tabu: Fijian Kali and Hair Ritual - Opens this month! by Torika Bolatagici

©&nbsp;TORIKA BOLATAGICI, 2018

© TORIKA BOLATAGICI, 2018

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

Torika Bolatagici, Black Birds and Lienors Torre's work for this project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Torika Bolatagici, Black Birds and Lienors Torre's work for this project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

The Camouflage Act - C3 Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne by Torika Bolatagici

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The Camouflage Act

C3 Contemporary Art Space
31.1.18 - 25.2.18

My solo exhibition 'The Camouflage Act' opens at C3 Contemporary Art Space this week and features 19 new works made during and following my residency at Fresh Milk Barbados in 2016.

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.

Opening:
6:00pm
31 January 2018
The Abbotsford Convent
1 St Heliers St. Abbotsford
VIC 3067 Australia

Gallery Hours:
10am – 5pm Wednesday to Sunday during exhibition periods.

Documentation photos by Jon Butt.

 

New collaborative project for 2018! by Torika Bolatagici

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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 :)

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory.