Young Pasifika

 

QAGOMA’s Pacific Art department continues to connect with South East Queensland’s Pacific community cultural groups and activities. As the reach and impact of the Gallery’s Pacific Exhibitions, Public Programs, and Learning activities develop, these connections have had increasing relevance. QAGOMA is committed to seeking opportunities to give focus to this as an area of research and active community engagement in the lead up to, and as an integral part of ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10).

Collaborative effort is being made across departments, and with key organisations and individuals within the South East Queensland Pacific Community towards providing more opportunities to Pacific voices and perspectives, maximise the contribution APT10 makes to broader community discourses, and foster meaningful connection and interactions between APT10 Pacific Artists and audiences.

Recently, the Gallery collaborated with the Pasifika Young Peoples Wellbeing Network (PYPWN) to host a Pasifika Youth Tour guided by the curatorial team for Pacific art and provide the opportunity to learn about QAGOMA’s approach to working with artists and communities in the Pacific region, and to share reflections from their own experiences with arts institutions.

Beyond this, the tour centred around visits to two main spaces. Firstly, Nicolas Molé’s installation Ile Vous regardent (They look at you). This work was commissioned as part of the ‘Yumi Danis (We dance)‘ project for ‘The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT8) in 2015-16. It focusses on the role of performance in Melanesia and was realised through a collaborative project which involved Molé working with a diverse group of dancers and musicians from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, West Papua and the Solomon Islands.

The youth were welcomed into this immersive experience that, as described by Ruth McDougall, Curator, Pacific art

emphasizes the importance of a relationship between the living and ancestral realms, set within a natural environment. Pausing to engage with this perspective assists one to approach the diversity of cultures, languages and customs comprising Melanesia. 1

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The tour also visited the Children’s Art Centre to view ‘Island Fashion‘ and meet with members of the team behind its design who shared a wealth of insights where questions and perspectives could be explored together. The space featured fashion, adornment and multimedia activities created by four artists from Australia and the Pacific – Letila Mitchell, Maryann Talia Pau, Ranu James and Grace Lillian Lee, who is the current Open Studio artist.

PYPWN exploring ‘Island Fashion’ / Photographs: Joe Ruckli © QAGOMA

Meet Grace Lillian Lee

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PYPWN describe themselves as ‘a group of young researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with a passion and focus on young Pasifika people’s health and wellbeing in Queensland.’ QAGOMA looks forward to continuing to collaborate with this and other groups to create unique opportunities for a growing network of young Pasifika peoples to meaningfully engage with the gallery’s Pacific collection, staff expertise, relevant exhibitions, and educational forums.

Ruha Fifita is Curatorial Assistant, Pacific Art at QAGOMA

Endnote
1 Ruth McDougall, Curatorial Essay, August 2017

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Feature image: Feature image: Pasifika Young Peoples Wellbeing Network (PYPWN); Ruth McDougall, Curator, Pacific Art (bottom left); Ruha Fifita, Curatorial Assistant, Pacific Art (second from top right)

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