Talk with Serena Bentley, Artists Tanu Gago and Janet Lilo
Screening of Personal Space (30 minutes) starts after 6pm followed by a conversation between Serena Bentley, Tanu Gago and Janet Lilo.
Serena Bentley is a New Zealand-born curator currently based in Melbourne, Australia, where she works for ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
Personal Space is a collection of five new artist cinema works by Janet Lilo, Tanu Gago, Natasha Matila-Smith, Campbell Patterson (New Zealand) and Atong Atem (Australia).
Commissioned by CIRCUIT and curated by Serena Bentley, each artist was asked to respond to a series of questions about the idea of home. The concept was prompted in part by New Zealand-born curator Serena Bentley's 12 year residence in Melbourne and also from Bentley observing events from afar, including the recent Christchurch shooting.
Says Bentley "I have lived away from Aotearoa NZ, my home, for twelve years and I continue to feel an unrelenting longing for my family there and for the land. I appreciate also however that distance changes your relationship to place - it can be easy to erase the complexities of home and to romanticise it instead."
Bentley's invitation to the artists acknowledged that what we call 'home' is often problematic.
"‘Where are you from?’ can be a loaded and complex question. How do you respond? Home can be permanent, transient, or imagined - a place to work towards, leave behind, escape from or return to later. Maybe you have more than one. Or perhaps home is less about place and more about the people you surround yourself with - the family you belong to or create. Is home a place we get to choose for ourselves? For those with ties to Aotearoa, the recent tragic events in Christchurch were a shock to some but not others, shattering illusions and forcing many to interrogate the realities of life in New Zealand. What are our shared foundations and values? What does home look like from the inside versus the outside?"
SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN
Digital Video, Sound
Set to a thumping soundtrack by Mxshi Mo, Gago presents highly stylised Polynesian men wearing lavalava (wraparound skirt) and Pe'a (a traditional male tattoo), their faces obscured by masks. Gago is co-founder of the LGBTQI collective FAFSWAG. A counterpoint to his previous film APPARATUS (2018) that asserted the individuality of the Polynesian men represented, the men in Savage in the Garden are deliberately homogenous and anonymous. Here, Gago delves into stereotypes, making these men “‘so fucking ‘native’ as a means of reclaiming the gaze and recentering my personal realities…”
4 minutes 30 seconds
Digital Video, Sound
Janet Lilo's Untitled (2019) takes as its' central motif a tree, photographed through the seasons. Together with the sound of a haka performed by children, and the image of a fire, the work quietly reflects without words on the disbanding of one home and the creation of another.