Three simultaneous exhibitions showcasing contemporary art from the Pacific open to the public tomorrow Friday 10 June. The public are invited to celebrate the opening of these exhibitions at NGV’s inaugural Contemporary Pacific Art and Community Day on Saturday 11 June, including dance and choir performances, artist talks and workshops.
Renowned Samoan-born contemporary artist, Greg Semu, unveils a solo exhibition of powerful photographic works, The Raft of the Tagata Pasifika (People of the Pacific). Working with a cast of twenty-two indigenous actors from the Cook Islands, Semu restages two iconic European history paintings and displays his epic photographic works on large-scale light boxes.
Using twenty-first century digital technologies to animate a nineteenth-century French neo-classical wallpaper, Lisa Reihana’s live-action video work, in Pursuit of Venus, powerfully challenges the exotic representations of Pacific Islander peoples found in colonial European art.
Siu i Moana: Reaching Across the Ocean comprises eight recently-painted and large-scale ngatu (Tongan barkcloth paintings), the largest of which spans a monumental twenty four metres in length. The ngatu have been produced by the artists in collaboration with the women of Haveluloto village on Tongatapu Island, Tonga. In accordance with local custom, the Tongan women have prepared the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree into huge sheets of dyed and patterned paper skin ready to be painted. Traditionally, these paintings depict local stories and folklore and these contemporary iterations expand into powerful and moving present-day stories of migration and patterns of connection across Oceania and beyond.