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Re-Stor(y)ing Oceania

Latai Taumoepeau, Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta  — 

  • Admission

    Free of charge

  • Opening date

  • Location

    Ocean Space

TBA21–Academy announces Re-Stor(y)ing Oceania, a new exhibition comprising two new site-specific commissions by Indigenous artists from the Pacific, Latai Taumoepeau and Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta. The exhibition is curated by Bougainville-born artist Taloi Havini, returning to Ocean Space after her 2021 solo exhibition.

Drawing together performance, sculpture, poetry, and movement, Havini’s curatorial vision is guided by an ancestral call and response method. Havini uses this as a means to seek solidarity and kinship in times of uncertainty. Real threats to life call for the need to slow down the clock on extraction and counter this with reverence for life of the Ocean.

The Pacific Islands are one of the regions most impacted by the damaging effects of climate change, and their Indigenous leaders and communities have led the call for more study and greater awareness of the ensuing crises for decades. Havini is joined by a curatorium, working closely together to produce public programs centering Indigenous perspectives from across Oceania, Australia and Asia-Pacific and its diasporas.

For the new commissions, Havini has invited artist Latai Taumoepeau who uses faivā ("performing art") grounded in Tongan philosophies of relational vā ("space") and tā ("time") to make visible the impact of the climate crisis in the Pacific.

The significance of song to poetically record histories and to share values and knowledge in Taumoepeau’s homeland of Tonga is acknowledged through the creation of a new choral work focused on her firm resistance to deep sea mining. The newly commissioned work, "Deep Communion sung in minor (archipelaGO, THIS IS NOT A DRILL)" will engage audiences in the process of giving Pacific islanders a voice on this issue.

Sculptural and interactive machines installed in Ocean Space will provide audiences with opportunities to engage with Taumoepeau’s "Deep Communion sung in minor (archipelaGO THIS IS NOT A DRILL)" either through activating the installation – which will trigger part of the musical score – or by taking a seat in the surrounding bleachers to witness local sports teams in performance with the work.

In response to Taumoepeau‘s new solo commission, a live project space emerges at Ocean Space that is imagined in collaboration with Wāhine architect Elisapeta Heta, a Māori, Samoan and Tokelauan leader and advocate for change, whose work provides Maori and Pasifika perspectives on the importance of place to design and cultural identity.

In her response to this exhibition Heta will present a new multi-sensory installation, "The Body of Wainuiātea", embodying ritual and ceremony guided by the Māori concept of tikanga, derived from the word "tika" which means "right" or "correct", so to act in accordance with tikanga is to behave in a way that is culturally proper or appropriate.

Designed for exchange and collaboration, this welcoming space seeks to use ancient ways of knowing and relating through story and waiata ("song") to restore a greater awareness of atua ("the gods") connections to our Ocean, re-establishing the tapu ("sacred") within current environmental and scientific campaigns seeking to protect the life of the planets largest bodies of water. Collaborators include Dr Albert Refiti, Hiramarie Moewaka, and Rhonda Tibble.

"The Body of Wainuiātea" by Heta provides a safe and welcoming space for re-establishing a solidarity network. A series of conversations, performances and actions will be programmed in this space over the opening and during 2024, inviting contributions from multi-disciplinary practitioners.

Opening at Ocean Space, Venice in Spring 2024, the exhibition also coincides with the 60th International Art Biennale. Re-stor(y)ing Oceania is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and Artspace, Sydney, and produced in partnership with OGR Torino, culture and innovation hub.


L–R: Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta (photo: Jasmax), Taloi Havini (photo: Zan Wimberley), Latai Taumopeau (photo: Rhett Wyman)

Taloi Havini (Nakas Tribe, Hakö people) was born in Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville and is currently based in Brisbane, Australia. She employs a research practice informed by her matrilineal ties to her land and communities in Bougainville. This manifests in works created using a range of media including photography, audio – video, sculpture, immersive installation and print. She curates and collaborates across multi-art platforms using archives, working with communities and developing commissions locally and internationally. Knowledge – production, transmission, inheritance, mapping, and representation are central themes in Havini’s work where she examines these in relation to land, architecture and place.

Latai Taumoepeau (b:1972 Gadigal Ngura, Sydney, Australia) makes live-art-work. Her faiva (body-centred pratice) is from her homelands, the Island Kingdom of Tonga and her birthplace Sydney, land of the Gadigal people. She mimicked, trained and un-learned dance, in multiple institutions of learning, beginning with her village, a suburban church hall, the club and a university. Her faiva (performing art) centres Tongan philosophies of relational vā ("space") and tā ("time"); cross-pollinating ancient and everyday temporal practice to make visible the impact of climate crisis in the Pacific. She conducts urgent environmental movements and ac:ons to assist transformation in Oceania.

Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta (Ngātiwai, Ngāpuhi, Waikato Tainui, Sāmoan, Tokelauan) is a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and mother, living and working in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Elisapeta’s career has spanned architecture, art, writing, film and performance, teaching and research and has resulted in a rich tapestry of collaborative works and projects that are centred in indigenous mātauranga ("knowledge and ways of knowing") and tikanga ("protocols and ceremony"). In working through a multi-disciplinary practice, Elisapeta seeks to create experiences that make visible our stories, many of which have been hidden or eroded – with a focus on indigenous and wāhine ("women") centred story-telling.