Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns with Rangituhia Hollis, Ana Iti, Alex Monteith, Sione Monu and Gary-Ross Pastrana
Curated by David Teh.
Artspace Aotearoa is pleased to present its third cinema programme for 2021, Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns.
Organised and commissioned by CIRCUIT and curated by Singapore-based academic and curator David Teh, each artist in Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns was given two concepts as prompts from which to create a new work. The first idea, Pacific Concretism, sought to explore 'errant modernisms' - artworks at junctions between traditional forms of visual art and other forms such as experimental literature. A second idea, Sovereignty, asks; what would a Sovereign Pacific artwork look like outside of traditional Western ideas of influence and form?
Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns is the sixth edition of CIRCUIT’s annual Artist Cinema Commissions. Over several months of research and dialogue with CIRCUIT’s director and network, the curator selected five artists, each of whom were asked to respond to the curatorial brief with a work of 10-15 minutes for cinema presentation. While each artist was invited to make a short work for a captive audience, most showings of the programme (in Aotearoa and overseas) will take place in ad hoc settings, extensions or annexes to art spaces, rather than theatrical ones. All five artists are used to addressing their audiences adrift in the social ebb and flow of the gallery, or online. What might the more linear, ‘cinematic’ setting afford an artist today? And how might the cinema be reconfigured by the contemporary moving images of Aotearoa and the Pacific?
The opening on Friday 16 April will also include the launch of the 2021 CIRCUIT Reader: Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns, featuring texts and conversations from the 2020 CIRCUIT Symposium by David Teh, Dr. Carl TH Mika, Sorawit Songsataya, Lana Lopesi, Dr. Greg Dvorak, Dr. David Chesworth, Ana Iti, Andrew Clifford, AURA Student Critical Forum (Meleseini Faleafa, Ilena Shadbolt, Kate Donald, Lucy Jessep, Matt Tini). The reader will be available as a free pdf download.
CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video NZ
CIRCUIT is a New Zealand-based distributor of artist moving image works. CIRCUIT promotes its collection through online video streaming, and is a forum for discussion of contemporary work and artist practice. CIRCUIT has a growing catalogue that currently contains over 500 works by 90 New Zealand artists. CIRCUIT was established in 2009 by Mark Williams, an independent curator based in Wellington.
David Teh is CIRCUIT’s 2020 curator-at-large. He is a curator and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, specialising in Southeast Asian contemporary art. David's previous curatorial projects include Returns, a project for the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018), Misfits: Pages from a Loose-leaf Modernity (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2017). His 2017 book Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary (MIT Press) examined the transition of Thai contemporary art from a nationalist subjectivity to a post-national one. His analysis is set against the backdrop of the Thai monarchy’s waning sovereignty amidst political and economic turmoil.
Across the face of the moon (2020)
10 minutes 33 seconds, Digital Video, Sound.
Music by Sola Vuna.
Across the face of the moon is a poetic response to the precarity of brown lives in the urban South Pacific, the expanse of cosmological time, and a looming awareness of ecological peril to come.
Rangituhia Hollis is of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu descent. Born in Napier, New Zealand, he has been exhibiting his art publicly for 20 years. He currently lives in South Auckland, and is a Teacher of Art and Digital Technologies.
Howling out at a safe distance (2020)
11 minutes 42 seconds, Digital Video, Sound.
“Howling out at a safe distance uses four partial editions of the historic Māori language newspaper Te Pīpīwharauroa as a way to think about the grey areas in language and understanding. In the video I use A4 sheets of paper with windows cut into them to isolate words and brief phrases from the articles found in Te Pīpī, which are about looking for something, translation, speaking to one another, and loneliness.”
- Ana Iti, Artist Statement.
Ana Iti (Te Rarawa) is an artist based in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Often employing sculpture, video and text, the artist’s recent work explores the practice of history making through shared and personal narratives, attempting to open up space for more subjective experiences and feeling.
Deepwater Currents (2020)
31 minutes 46 seconds, Digital Video, Sound.
“Ocean currents arriving at Te Piha in Aotearoa have been circulating in waters elsewhere, prior to emerging and leaving again in its’ renowned rips and sea-floor channels. The non-linear digital video grapples with formations and journeys of ocean currents as well as language traces from political or territorial claims in Tangaroa’s domain… seabed mining permit applications, seafloor mapping, offshore oceanographic buoy measurements, global-tech, the blue economy and surfing… A winter of videography of sea-states of Ngā Tai Whakatū ā Kupe is combined with a winter swell season at Mullach Mór, Éire including during a record-breaking ocean storm. These vastly distant coasts are linked in the global ocean circulation of the thermohaline—currents that complete a journey of the oceans of the world in a cycle of around 1000 years. Waves, sea mists and deeper ocean currents, move onwards—unquiet.”
 The upraised seas of Kupe, Tasman Sea, Aotearoa—New Zealand.
 Mullaghmore, Ireland.
-Alex Monteith, Artist Statement.
Alex Monteith is a new media artist and academic, born in Northern Ireland and resident in New Zealand. She is also a competitive surfer and has won national titles in the sport. Monteith's works focus on political issues surrounding land ownership, history and occupation. Many of her projects are located in large-scale geographies, such as the ocean.
Only Yesterday (2020)
8 minutes 9 seconds, Digital Video, Sound.
“In an alternate world where queer indigeneity was never erased/lost, we follow the daily lives of two leiti’s whose sovereignty has come into its own in a fast changing, modern world. Set to the backdrop of an alternate Tonga untouched by western influence and with a wealth of mineral resources (particularly, crystals), you are presented with a subtle yet strikingly different modern world. The ingenuity of their adaptations to, and their cultural flourishes in their diaspora experience is captured in the mundanity of these two leiti’s lives in Aotearoa.”
-Sione Monu , Artists Statement.
“Sione Monu is an artist of the Tongan diaspora. He lives between Canberra Australia and Auckland who works across the mediums of photography, moving-image, fashion and adornment, performance and drawing exploring identity, family and Pasifika queer experience in the diaspora.”
- Moana Fresh
8 minutes 40 seconds, Digital Video, Sound.
“Rewilding (2018) is an attempt to reconfigure the power of process for both construction and deconstruction. Three protagonists are in conversation with the artist to render a fictional scenario of termites boring into a piano, how a piano in this state can be played and the conflicts between two species’ habitations. Spoken words are mixed with the selected amplified sounds of the environment, producing a porous and poetic layer of documented reality which projects the circles of life and ruins while figuring various relationships crisscrossed between spheres of lives. Another immaterial layer of transformation is suggested by musical composition and performance, releasing a vibrant investigation toward perfection and chaos, interrupted by another beings’ fight for survival. When such a complex structure of questioning is woven together, we may find ourselves losing means of measurement for a tuned world.”
-Gary-Ross Pastrana, Artists Statement.
“Gary Ross Pastrana is a Filipino conceptual artist working with sculpture, performance, and photography. By combining unlikely and contradictory materials that often directly reference the human body, his images create a sense of tension and unease.”
- Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.