Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Staunch Celebration of South Auckland Samoan Culture

AA
View Discussion
Tanu Gago, You Love my Fresh Tanu Gago, You Love my Fresh Tanu Gago, You Love my Fresh

The first section of this film is the most interesting part, and the last too similar to a tourism documentary, a recording that is commercial in feel, of a complex and vibrant community. The glowering anger at the beginning is refreshing with its elegant graphics, moving letters, manoeuvring syntax and stinging phrases. Yet for all that, it's probably wasted in an art gallery.

Auckland

Tanu Gago
You Love My Fresh

Curated by Ema Tavola

11 September - 5 December 2010

Tanu Gago is a Samoan film-maker who here presents a moving image installation of three screens butted together, part of a joint venture between Te Tuhi and Fresh Gallery Otara. The work is a celebration of South Auckland Samoan music and dance - and indirectly food - mixed with a gritty confrontational rhetoric. It’s very political; very polished; very slick. Yet unexpectedly complex as well.

Using the wide screen there are three parts. The first - in black and white - directs a message to mainstream white culture, using yellow block lettering and a graphic tone and rhetorical voice similar to Barbara Kruger.

One section says: I feel redundant of your First World. In your mind we are all blacks. You want my Fresh. You want my labour. The title refers to ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ as a source of cheap manual labour, but also the Exotic Other, a cultural novelty.

The second part (also in black and white) features Samoans working on building construction sites and then preparing food as a community for a feast, with God Defend New Zealand playing in the background. It is a contrast to the distorted perceptions being attacked in the first part, where now family and wider group activities are being shown as a reply. Obviously the soundtrack is intended to be ironic, because of what preceded it, yet not necessarily so. There is an ambivalence, an affection for Aotearoa. The music is lyrically beguiling and draws you to the film from elsewhere in the building

With the third section (in colour) we see a male and female performer dancing in traditional costume on the three screens. (I wondered if the woman was a fa’afafine, as that would complicate the interpretation.) The music is frenetically percussive in mood. Whereas the sound at the beginning was soothing and drifting in contradistinction to the mood of the language, now towards the end it crackles in a snappy, penetrating staccato of loudly beaten drums

However the first section of this film is the most interesting part, and the last too similar to a tourism documentary, a recording that is commercial in feel. The glowering anger at the beginning is refreshing with its elegant graphics, moving letters, manoeuvring syntax and stinging phrases. Yet for all that, it’s probably wasted in an art gallery.

Well maybe ‘wasted’ is too strong - for the Pakuranga audience is surely appreciative - but Gago’s subtly complex project needs to be in public cinemas or on the sides of downtown buildings where it can generate more impact. Where despite its use of aural seduction it can shock and genuinely offend. Where the audience will find it hard to take it in its stride. Where ‘edge’ is genuinely disturbing and not glib marketing - and where the social issues it raises are analysed and talked about in a lively but serious fashion.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Tiffany Singh 's Collaboration is the Future as installed at Melanie Roger.

Singh at Roger

MELANIE ROGER GALLERY

Auckland

 

Tiffany Singh
Collaboration is the Future

 

31 January - 24 February 2018

JH
Role models, curated by Rob McKenzie, as installed at Hopkinson Mossman

Unpicking Identity

HOPKINSON MOSSMAN

Auckland

 

Robert Bittenbender, Ellen Cantor, Jennifer McCamley, Josef Strau
Role Models


26 January - 24 February 2018

JH
Gary Peters, A Slow Take, 2017 (installation view) commissioned by Te Tuhi, Auckland. Photo by Sam Hartnett

Two Site-Specific Paintings

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

Gary Peters
A Slow Take

 

18 November 2017 - 25 February 2018

JH
Installation at Te Tuhi of Shannon Te Ao's With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Shannon Te Ao at Te Tuhi

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

Shannon Te Ao
With the sun aglow, I have my pensive moods


18 November 2017 - 25 February 2018