Excitement is building around the development of one of the major projects in the Pacific representation of APT8 – the SaVAge K’lub by Rosanna Raymond.
A multi-art installation and performance event, Raymond’s APT8 SaVAge K’lub riffs off the late-Nineteenth Century gentlemen’s club of the same name, though placing less emphasis on secret men’s business and more on more on the ‘VA’ within SaVAge. ‘VA’ is a term invoking Samoan philosophical understandings of space. As Raymond describes it, this space ‘is an active space. It is activated by people. It binds people and things together. It forms relationships, and reciprocal obligations’.
For her APT8 K’lub Raymond has invited a group of Pacifika ‘members, performers, makers, articulators, hunters and gatherers’ 1 to respond to the GOMA space, ’embellishing it with their presence by introducing new objects, documentation and performance that engage audiences in key ideas around Pacific objects, performance, cosmologies and culture’2. Key to the development of Raymond’s Brisbane K’lub was a Wāngana workshop held in Piha, Aotearoa | New Zealand in late May 2015. Comprising a dedicated space and time to share ideas, to develop an understanding of the SaVAge K’lub ethos and to collaboratively develop a response, each participating artist began to generate ideas about the works and performances they would in consultation with Raymond, contribute to the installation for APT8.
Young New Caledonian Arts Management student Allan Haeweng shares his experiences of this time.
1 & 2 Rosanna Raymond, ‘Ko au te whare tāonga, te whare tāonga ko au: I am the Museum, The Museum is Me’, Paper presented to the Innovative Heritage: Conversations between Arts and Heritage conference, Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg, Berlin, 2014, via email to the author, 12 May 2015.
On the last weekend of May as the waves were rolling in on the beach of Piha, so were the clouds. Despite heavy rain the morale of the participants of the SaVAge Development Wānanga 2015 was high. When Rosanna Raymond invited me to give a little help over the weekend, I rejoiced at the idea of meeting new artists, attending their workshops and above all, of being able to see and hear their booming ideas develop as part of Raymond’s SaVAge K’lub project for the upcoming 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8). Little did I know the experience would take me beyond that.
The weekend opened with a pōwhiri, a Māori ceremony during which the Auckland-based artists welcomed their fellow APT artists from Wellington and Brisbane. Words were exchanged with breaths, and the ceremony concluded with the traditional hongi. After a short lunch, everybody came into the main whare and sat in a circle. There each spoke in turn about who they were and the reasons that had brought them there. As I entered the space, I was impressed by the atmosphere of mutual trust and welcome.
It was in a family spirit that the weekend unfolded. It was also in that main whare that everything took place. We danced, we performed, we listened, we heard Ranginui, the Sky Father, crying over Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, as we chanted our haka as loud as the rain drops. Except for the few walk breaks we took by the wild sea, we were enveloped in a sense of time and place where the heart of our discussions would keep us lively. I was surrounded by artists drawing, weaving, assembling, dancing, writing, thinking – It impressed upon me that in such a fertile soil, creativity sprouts.
Looking back, I cannot help but feel peaceful, and naturally grateful for the opportunity to embark for a weekend on the SaVAge K’lub waka. Soon their waka will reach the shores of the Brisbane river – Beware.
The SaVAge K’lub Wāngana was supported by Creative New Zealand.
Participants included: Allan Anshell, Jess Holly Bates, Eric Bridgeman, Precious Clark, Lisa Fa’alafi, Charlotte Grayham, Maryann Talia Pau, Numatangi McKenzie, Aroha Rawson, Rosanna Raymond, Reina Sutton and Suzanne Tamaki.