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The Pasifika art world, like many other art worlds, is vibrant, diverse, deep, wide, and carries a myriad of different meanings for different people. From traditional tattooing (the word tattoo is derived from the Polynesian word tatau), song, and dance, to contemporary visual and performance art, and modern variations of tattoing, Pasifika artists explore their heritage as well as their contemporary world in the art they create.
Pasifika art isn’t a rigid category in which anyone from, or descended from, our sea of islands adhere to maintain a sense of community. In fact, many of our artists push boundaries of what constitutes as Pasifika art and what Pasifika identity is. The fusing of contemporary and traditional tools, themes, and languages, allow Pasifika artists to paint, perform, showcase, and assert their ever-changing culture.
Many of our artists use their voices and creativity to highlight forgotten or unheard stories. Tupe Lualua’s 1918 is a powerful performance piece of the tragedy of the “Spanish” Influenza Pandemic in Samoa that killed almost a quarter of the population, when the ship Taluna carrying passengers infected with the influenza was not quarantined due to administrative neglect and poor judgement. Tupe’s performative piece began as a way of showcasing art and history to friends and family who may not have had a theatrical experience and ended up travelling worldwide. This is just one, great, example of Pasifika art encompassing the then and now, that both honours our past and provides an opportunity for young performers to be a part of a breath-taking piece that is seldom discussed in mainstream discourse.
Kava Club and Tautai Pacific Arts Collective are two groups that Pasifika, especially young Pasifika, artists can be a part of to gain support and creative collaboration in a welcoming and inspirational environment. Next week (August 26, 6pm), Kava Club is hosting a Chop Sui Hui at Pātaka in Porirua which will include speakers such as Tupe Lualua, Rachael Rakena, and Emalani Case to name a few. Check out Kava Club on Facebook for more details.