Five Pacific Artists: Niwhai Tupaea, Sione Falemaka, Frank Puletua, Greg Semu and Latai Taumoepeau were asked by Leo Tanoi to select items from the Australian Museum’s Pacific Collection for display at Casula Powerhouse Arts Center exhibition – Body Pacifica.
The Body Pacifica exhibition also displayed works by the above artists which were made as a response to their interactions within the Australian Museum’s collection. The Australian Museum has on their website interviews with the artists. The interviews were produced by Finton Mahony and documents the intangible nature of the objects from the Australian Museum’s collection, the contemporary arts practice of the artists and the philosophy of contemporary pacific arts practice.
I went around to each drawer and kind of like stuck my hand around each piece, so I sort of made myself feel what energy comes out of this and so it kind of called to me. To tell you the truth it’s my hands that talk, like I collect the pieces, I go out and collect the resources of the materials. I lay them out – I don’t actually have an idea where it is going to sit. So my hands actually speak with the objects and I start weaving. It goes into – it’s almost like I go into a trance when I weave. Niwhai Tupaea
I’ve been weaving and beading because when I was born I think I was born with pandanas plant in my feet or in my hands, so I’ve always learned to weave from an early age. Sione Falemaka
The spirit’s been removed from these artefacts, so I’m looking at recreating colonial history and just re-evaluating it from today. I’m not trying to say who was wrong or right, I’m just saying let’s look at it today from contemporary eyes and from contemporary minds. Greg Semu
The whole purpose of the exhibition, from what I’ve seen, is to you know reconnect ourselves… I felt a bit of a detachment from my heritage and doing this has reconnected me and just added a bit of knowledge from where my parents are from and where my grandparents are from and where my whole family obviously come from. Frank Puletua
Latai Taumopeau speaks about a Ngatu – a traditional bark cloth from Tonga – which she referenced in a performance work. Taumopeau’s performance can be seen here.