14 November – 05 February 2021

Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology

'Oku polepole 'ae Artspace Aotearoa ke fakahoko 'ae fengāue'aki hono tolu moe Koloa: Fafine, 'Aati, moe Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology, 'aia koe faka'ali'ali 'oku tefito he mā'uhinga 'ae tukufakaholo faka'aati 'oe koloa 'a hou'eiki fafine, 'o taumu'a kene fakatupu ha ngaahi liliu 'oku hoko ai 'ae ngaahi fakakaukau moe ngāue 'ae hou'eiki fafine koha ivi fakafonua mālohi.

Artspace Aotearoa is proud to present the third international iteration of Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology; an exhibition that centres on the significance of the female artistic lineage of Tongan koloa, to generate a transformative-context in which female Indigenous practises are a pivotal cultural force.

The exhibition brings to Aotearoa over ninety unique ngatu / barkcloth works from the collection of Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa, revered as the foremost authority on customary Tongan art practices in the Kingdom of Tonga. Her wealth of knowledge has and continues to be called upon by museums and institutions as an advisory, and contributor to global Indigenous scholarship.

In 2019, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa exhibited her extensive collection of rare and new Tongan artworks in Koloa: Women, Art and Textiles, an exhibition at Langafonua ‘a Fafine, Tonga. This site was established in 1953 by Queen Sālote Tupou III, as a historic centre for women’s customary arts. The exhibition was a momentous cotemporal occasion; it paid tribute to the cultural and social significance of koloa art practises while honoring the Dowager Lady Fielakepa for her life-long commitment to, and passion for the endurance and vitality of these diverse practices. (Koloa connotes something of treasured value; interchangeable material and immaterial wealth.)

Koloa was shown for a second time at independent art space Para Site, Hong Kong, in an expanded exhibition that included work by contemporary female practitioners: Tanya Edwards (Tongan, Māori, Tainui), Nikau Hindin (Ngai Tūpoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) and Vaimaila Urale (Sāmoa). For this third iteration of Koloa, more works are added by Sarah Vaki and Tutana Tetuanui from Tahiti/Fatu Hiva. Artspace Aotearoa focusses on the potentiality that these female practitioners embody, making-vital Indigenous narratives and knowledge while generating progressive perspectives through adaptive contemporary methodologies.

“It is a wonderful honour for me to be able to share these pieces I have collected over my lifetime.
I have greatly missed this collection during it’s exhibition in Hong Kong, it’s such a long way away from Tonga and they are, in a sense, members of our family. I feel like I am waiting to welcome them home, they are on their return journey now with this stopover in Auckland.”

“I sometimes think to myself that our Tongan people looking at this work would have more beautiful koloa. These things in this collection may look old, but they have our family history woven into them. They are heirlooms, each piece tells a story - the birth of our children and grandchildren, weddings, birthdays, many achievements and celebrations…”

“I look at them and remember the history we have shared and the places we live - Kolomotu’a, Havelu, growing up in Fasi as a young girl. That is all represented here. This collection is a chronicle of all our lives and a catalogue of historical events we have been blessed to be a part of.”

“This work on display here is our family inheritance. It will be passed on to my children and then on to my grandchildren to care for and learn the stories intertwined in all of it.”

“I hope this display is something that people may see their own stories reflected in. Particularly at this time when we are separated from each other, it is a reminder of home, of where we come from.”

  • The Dowager Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa

Koloa: Fafine, ‘Aati, Mo e Tekinolosia / Women, Art, and Technology ( 2020, Para Site, Hong Kong) was co-curated by Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa, with Cosmin Costinas and Vivian Ziherl. This exhibition at Artspace Aotearoa is co-organised and supported by Para Site Hong Kong and Vivian Ziherl.

This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Auckland Regional Council, Creative New Zealand, Foundation North.

Public Programme to be announced shortly.

Tunakaimanu Fielakepa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa

The Dowager Lady Fielakepa is the Kingdom of Tonga’s foremost knowledge-holder of koloa. Today aged 83, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa has witnessed the transformation of Tongan society from its village basis and through modernisation into a part of the kaleidoscopic worlds of contemporary globality. In 1947 she was among the first ‘pioneer’ students of secondary education in Tonga, and in 1954 she was among the first nineteen students within Tonga selected and sent to receive a tertiary education in Auckland as part of a national programme of modernisation. As a leader and expert in women’s textile arts, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa has held many prominent positions, including as Chairperson of Village Committees 1963 – 2010, Chairperson of the National Council of Women 1998 – 2004, President of the Pan-Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (Tonga) 2008 – 2010, President of Tonga National Handicraft Association 2009 – 2012 and Technical Advisor to the National Council of Women 1996 – 2013. Her work continues as a Cultural Expert with the National Council of Women and with the Langafonua ‘a Fafine Tonga. As the foremost expert on Tongan women’s textile, or koloa, the Dowager Lady Fielakepa is called upon extensively by major global institutions across the world. For example, organisations such as Museums Australia and the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, have invited the Dowager Lady Fielakepa to advise upon their collections and research. She has enjoyed a long-term dialogue with Adrienne Kaeppler of the Smithsonian Institute as well as numerous scholars throughout the world. Her research was featured within the 2014 UNESCO anthology Traditional Knowledge and Wisdom: Themes from the Pacific Islands, as well as the renowned publication on the topic TAPA: From Tree Bark to Cloth: An Ancient Art of Oceania, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Polynesia.

Tanya Edwards

Tanya Edwards is a Tonga based artist of Māori (Tainui) and Tongan descent. Primarily a print-maker, Tanya’s work is often an exploration of her bi-cultural heritage reflecting both the fine art of Māori weaving of her maternal lineage and the Tongan tapa textiles of her paternal side. She has exhibited work in New Zealand, Australia and around the Pacific and has works on permanent display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Tanya has been living in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, for the past 21 years and founded Me’a’ofa Gallery in 2018, the only art gallery currently operating in the Kingdom, which seeks to promote contemporary Tongan art. The gallery works on a volunteer basis and all proceeds of sales go directly to the artist. Since the opening of the gallery space, she has been appointed by Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho as consultant for the arts on the national planning committee for Tonga’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. As part of her passion to support the arts, Tanya has this year hosted the Pacific Arts Conference in Tonga which combined two exhibitions, dance workshops and a film festival and plans to continue further symposiums as annual events.

Nikau Hindin

Nikau Hindin (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a contemporary artist and with a revivalist agenda to reawaken Māori aute. She completed her conjoint BA in Māori studies and Media studies and Honours in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. In 2013, she did an exchange at the University of Hawai’i (UH) where she first learned about Māori aute. In 2014 she was part of the crew on Hōkūle’a from Auckland to Golden Bay. She is the recipient of the Māori Battalion VC scholarship and the Sir Hugh Kawharu award which enabled her access to study the Auckland War Memorial Museum collection. She returned to the UH, on a Graduate Assistant Scholarship, where she learned from Master knowledge holders. In October 2018, she completed a deep sea voyage from Norfolk Island to Tāmaki Makaurau. Nikau completed her Masters of Creative Practice at Toihoukura Art School. This year Nikau showed at the Auckland Art Fair, Te Uru Contemporary Gallery, Millers O’Brien Gallery. She has been featured recently in three shows around Aotearoa New Zealand: Native Voices at Tairawhiti Museum, Te Rangi Haupapa: A Woven History at Tauranga Art Gallery and Tākiri: An Unfurling at the New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Vaimaila Urale

Vaimaila Urale (b. Fagamalo, Sāmoa 1972 lives and works in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand) has developed a distinct art making process that draws on traditional Sāmoan elements expressed through digital media and contemporary social art practices. Referencing early computer image making known as ASCII, Urale explores digital mark making utilising universal computer keyboard characters / \ backslash and forward slash, as well as mathematical symbols < > less-than and greater-than. Using this process, she has designed tattoos, screen prints, ceramics as well as large-scale public murals. Urale graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) 2010 and received the Head of School Visual Arts award. Her art practice has a strong focus on collaboration and audience engagement. She is known for her work as part of the art collective D.A.N.C.E art club and her involvement with Whau arts festival in Auckland. Her work has been exhibited nationally at Dowse Art Museum and Māngere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, as well as internationally at SOMArts, San Francisco, Para Site, Hong Kong, Fei Contemporary Art Center, China and Blak Dot Gallery, Australia.

Sarah Tahiafitiani VAKI

Born in 1948, Vaki resides in Omoa, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia). Vaki’s relationship and commitment to elders in her village is what fuels her desire to continue the tapa making process and the knowledge sharing economy around it. Sarah Vaki also has an interest in making mono’i (perfumed oil), of which she also integrates into her broader artistic practice.
Sarah Vaki is also a teacher herself, and has lectured on tapa making, notably for the Quai Branly Museum, Paris, France, part of the exhibition MATAHOATA, ARTS AND SOCIETY IN THE MARQUESAS ISLANDS.
In 2014, Sarah Vaki has also been part of Festival du Tapa in Tahiti, organised by Michel Charleux. The event was published in a book called TAPA: From Tree Back to Cloth: An Ancient Art of Oceania, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Polynesia (edited by Charleux).

Tutanna Huetauu

Born in 1944 in the valley of Omoa (Vevau), Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands, Tutanna is a descendant of the Ati Aneinoa clan. She lives and works between Papara, Tahiti and Omoa, Fatu Hiva.
From 1974 to 2011 she worked as an Agent in the Department of Oral Traditions, at the Service de la Culture et du Patrimoine of French Polynesia. While there, she spearheaded a program to teach Marquesian tapa-making to school-children in Tahiti (Society Islands).
In 1985, she summoned her Taura (family animal protector) to decipher the stories of the shark named Upaupa from Taha’a (Society islands). In this process, she learnt more about her own taura, which heralds from Bora Bora (Vavau, Society islands).
In 1988, she led the reconstitution of an Umuti (traditional fire pit oven) on the island of Maupiti (Society islands), joining the Tuhuna (the knowledge holders) soon after.
In 2011 when Fafaaite (the traditional sailing boat) left for Hawaii, Tutanna made a tapa to offer to Te pito o Atea (the equator) which is the passage between our home and Hawaii. The 2011 crossing of the Fafaaite was a culturally symbolic enactment to rekindle the bond between the islands of Tahiti and Hawai’i, and its connecting crossing and through the traditional sea voyage, va’a.

Kahoolawe is a sacred island in the Hawaiian chain. It is across from Maui that happened to be a bombing site for the military. They do not bomb there anymore as it is healing. The water was symbolic to heal the scars of the island. Kahoolawe’s animal totem is the whale. There is an area there called Kealakahiki, which means the pathway to Tahiti or to foreign lands.” (Photographer Danee Hazama)

Huetauu has also been the Vaima, a sacred spring in Tahiti), collecting water there to be sprinkled on Kahoolawe island (Hawai’i).
Tutanna was part of the 2014, Festival du Tapa in Tahiti, which inspired the production of TAPA: From Tree Back to Cloth: An Ancient Art of Oceania, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Polynesia (Michel Charleux).
In 2015, at the request of the Association Te Tupuna Te Tura, she was asked to create a tapa to carry skulls back home from Sweden to the Marquesas. The skulls were acquired (1884) by the Swedish archeologist Hjalmar Stolpe. Her tapa was made from 'ōrā, bagnan, Ficus prolixa. which symbolically originates from Hava’ï, the place where souls travel to, in Polynesian mythology.

Cosmin Costinas

Cosmin Costinas (b. 1982, Romania) is the Executive Director/Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong since 2011. He was a Guest Curator of Dakar Biennale 2018 - La Biennale de l’Art africain contemporain-DAK’ART, Dakar (2018); Guest Curator at the Dhaka Art Summit ’18 (2018); Co-curator of the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); Curator of BAK-basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht (2008-2011); Co-curator of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial, Ekaterinburg (2010); and Editor of documenta 12 Magazine, documenta 12, Kassel (2005–2007).

At Para Site, Costinas oversaw the institution's major expansion and relocation to a new home in 2015, and curated or co- curated the exhibitions: An Opera of Animals (2019); A beast, a god, and a line (touring at MAIIAM, Chiang Mai, 2020; Kunsthall Trondheim, 2019; Dhaka Art Summit ‘18, TS1/The Secretariat, Yangon, and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2018); Movements at an Exhibition, Manuel Pelmus (2017-2018); Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs (touring at MCAD, Manila and Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, 2016-2017); Afterwork (touring at ILHAM, Kuala Lumpur, 2016-2017); The World is Our Home. A Poem on Abstraction (2015-2016); Sheela Gowda (2015); the conference Is the Living Body the Last Thing Left Alive? The new performance turn, its histories and its institutions (2014; the homonymous major volume of original essays was published in 2017 with Sternberg Press, Berlin); Great Crescent: Art and Agitation in the 1960s—Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan (touring at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2013-2015 and MUAC, Mexico City, 2016); A Journal of the Plague Year (touring at The Cube, Taipei; Arko Art Center, Seoul; and Kadist Art Foundation and The Lab, San Francisco; 2013-2015); Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters: Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong in New York (touring at SALT, Istanbul; NUS Museum, Singapore; e-flux, New York; 2012-2014), a.o. At BAK in the Netherlands, he curated Spacecraft Icarus 13. Narratives of Progress from Elsewhere (2011), as well as solo exhibitions of Olga Chernysheva (2011), Rabih Mroue (2010, touring at Iniva - Institute of International Visual Arts, London, Lunds konsthall, Lund; tranzit+display, Prague; and Wurttembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, 2011), Boris Charmatz (2010), and Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor (2009), as well as the 1st Former West Congress (with Maria Hlavajova, 2009). He co-authored the novel Philip (2007) and has edited and contributed his writing to numerous books, magazines, and exhibition catalogues and has taught and lectured at different universities, art academies, and institutions across the world.

Vivian Ziherl

Vivian Ziherl, writer and curator, is Research and Program Manager at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in the Netherlands, where she has resided since undertaking de Appel Curatorial Programme (2010-2011). Her interests include contemporary art, cultural heritage and archival practice, performance, institutional processes and the frontier as a threshold of colonial modernity. Ziherl founded the research and exhibitions platform Frontier Imaginaries whose projects include Trade Markings (2017) at the Van Abbemuseum, which staged the falcon, the cigar and the computer chip as visual triggers to expanded Dutch histories. She curated the 7th edition of the Jerusalem Show, as part of the 3rd Qalandiya International, also as part of Frontier Imaginaries and titled Before and After Origins (2016). Here contributions by artists from Palestine, Australia, Burma, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands and the Syrian Golan, among others, shared works together with cultural archives such as Bethlehem Shell engraving and the Tawfic Canaan Amulets Collection. Her first edition of Frontier Imaginaries took place in Brisbane as two paired exhibitions No Longer at Ease and The Life of Lines (2016), exploring the intimate and extimate fold of modernity through the history and politics of Australia.

Many of Frontier Imaginaries’ new work commissions have also been co-presented, such as Gordon Hookey’s MURRILAND! together with documenta 14 (2017), and Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s Squat/(Anti)Squat with the Dutch Pavilion of the Venice Biennale (2017). Her work with Frontier Imaginaries has also delved into institutional processes and professional structures. The expanded symposium "Humans of the Institution" (2017), co-presented with University of Bergen Curatorial Practice, gathered curatorial freelancers as well as their institutional colleagues to discuss precarious working conditions. The symposium culminated in a series of working groups, while an ongoing Curatorial Freelancers’ Working Group has since been established in the Netherlands. Through Frontier Imaginaries, Ziherl also initiated "As Long As It Takes!", a community-led acquisition in partnership with the HipHopHuis, University of Colour, Bijlmer Parktheatre and Van Abbemuseum that has forged an ongoing process since 2017, culminating in 2020 with a work chosen and mediated by the project’s community partners.

Her more recent publications include as a contributor to the Frieze ‘Decolonising Culture’ survey (2018), guest editor of e-flux Journal #90 "Trade Markings" (2018), as editor of the monograph Summoning Time, of the work of Indigenous (Waanyi) artist Gordon Hookey (2017). Ziherl is a PhD candidate in Curatorial Studies at Monash University Melbourne, with external supervision by Denise Ferreira da Silva.

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