Pre­view: Bod­ies In Space

Artist Profile - - CONTENTS - OWEN CRAVEN www.al­cas­ton­gallery.com.au

CU­RATED BY JA­COB TOLO, Tino i le Va: Bod­ies In Space is a group ex­hi­bi­tion hosted by Mel­bourne’s Al­cas­ton Gallery that presents con­tem­po­rary per­spec­tives of Pa­cific Art and the role in­di­vid­ual artists’ bod­ies play in their creative out­put. Tino i le Va: Bod­ies In Space en­gages with the myr­iad of rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Pa­cific Is­land bod­ies through­out his­tory in art, lit­er­a­ture and the me­dia. Tak­ing his mark from the 20th an­niver­sary of land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion Bot­tled Ocean – a show­case of Pa­cific art from artists liv­ing in New Zealand at the time – Ja­cob Tolo con­tin­ues to explore the “dis­course sur­round­ing Pa­cific iden­ti­ties and how they fit in the cul­tural land­scape” that ex­ists to­day. Tolo ac­knowl­edges that nu­mer­ous ex­hi­bi­tions since Bot­tle Ocean have paved the way for a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and greater ac­cep­tance of Pa­cific her­itage and that this has led to new gen­er­a­tions be­ing able to delve deeper into ques­tions of ‘Pa­cific-ness’. Tolo be­lieves that “Ten­sions still ex­ist sur­round­ing plu­ral­is­tic cul­tures but with ex­hi­bi­tions oc­cur­ring more fre­quently in and around the Pa­cific basin sub­jects such as global warm­ing, glob­al­i­sa­tion and gen­der/sex­ual equal­ity sit par­al­lel with ques­tions of iden­tity and cul­tural dis­lo­ca­tion”. Us­ing per­for­mance, video, pho­tog­ra­phy and prints, this ex­hi­bi­tion sees Pa­cific artists work­ing in Aus­tralia to­day chal­lenge post-colo­nial vi­sions of Oceanic peo­ple, by cre­at­ing per­sonal in­ter­pre­ta­tions where the artist be­comes the sub­ject, not the ob­ject. The artists in this ex­hi­bi­tion use their bod­ies as the sub­ject of their work to re­flect upon and re­gain the au­thor­ity from ‘out­sider’ ob­ser­va­tions. Tolo ex­plains: “The his­tory of mod­ern art has of­fered us per­spec­tives from out­siders. Rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Pa­cific Is­land phys­i­cal bod­ies have been doc­u­mented in art and lit­er­a­ture, from the very first en­coun­ters with Euro­peans to mod­ern-day ad­ver­tis­ing with the prom­ise of ro­mance and ad­ven­ture. Tino i le Va: Bod­ies In Space flips the per­spec­tive from ob­ject to sub­ject. Re­turn­ing Pa­cific ideas of body image that are ei­ther pre­mis­sion­ary or de­tan­gling post-colo­nial vi­sions of Oceanic peo­ple”. The ex­hi­bi­tion, which co­in­cides with the Mel­bourne Art Fair, will of­fer view­ers the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with the artists per­sonal per­spec­tive and view of them­selves. The par­tic­i­pat­ing Aus­tralian-Pa­cific artists in­clude: Torika Bo­latagici, Eric Bridge­man, Tama TK Favell, Chan­tal Fraser, Kirsten Lyt­tle, Greg Semu, Salote Tawale, An­gela Ti­a­tia and Naup Waup. Chan­tal Fraser uses adorn­ment as an aes­thetic and con­cep­tual tool for ma­te­rial ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion. The work ex­plores the cre­ation of cross cul­tural con­no­ta­tions and rep­re­sen­ta­tions through sil­hou­ette and the em­bod­i­ment of adorn­ment, and more sig­nif­i­cantly cul­tural adorn­ment. Fraser ex­plores or­na­men­ta­tion as an aes­thetic res­o­lu­tion to iden­tity and in­di­vid­u­al­ity. Where Fraser cre­ates ob­jects to adorn the body, An­gela Ti­a­tia is a mul­ti­me­dia artist whose body is her can­vas. Her prac­tice ex­plores struc­tures and ex­changes of power at in­ter­per­sonal, group and in­ter­na­tional lev­els, and how these in­ter­ac­tions af­fect iden­tity. Her video ‘Climb­ing the Wall’ is a work that por­trays great strength and force­ful in­de­pen­dence of the artist from the viewer’s gaze. Greg Semu em­braces Samoa as his an­ces­tral and spir­i­tual home. The theme of cul­tural dis­place­ment in the Pa­cific is a river that runs strongly through Semu’s art­work. Semu uses the vis­ual lan­guages of pho­tog­ra­phy and film to explore the sig­nif­i­cance of iden­tity and cre­ate evoca­tive di­a­logues to chal­lenge the ro­man­ti­cised Colo­nial­ist doc­u­men­ta­tion of ‘first con­tact’ with the tribal worlds. By us­ing medi­ums so syn­ony­mous with pre­sent­ing truth and re­al­ity to re-en­act historic and art his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant moments, Semu se­duces the viewer to chal­lenge pre­con­ceived no­tions of his­tory. EX­HI­BI­TION Tino i le Va: Bod­ies in Space 12 Au­gust to 5 Septem­ber, 2014 Al­cas­ton Gallery

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