Māori and Pasifika photographers to showcase at Auckland Festival of Photography
Every year the Auckland Festival of Photography bestows an Auckland-based artist with the opportunity to create new work, which is then later exhibited as part of the festival celebrations.
To celebrate its 10th Annual Commission, the AFP has commissioned 3 artists to showcase for the festival, Saynab Muse, Qiane Matata-Sipu (Cook Islands, Te Wai-o-hua, Waikato-Tainui) and NZ-born Samoan artist Raymond Sagapolutele.
A social activist, journalist and photographer, Qiane Matata-Sipu’s work has earned her recognition both in Aotearoa and overseas. She won the 2018 NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year Photo Story award for her six-image social documentary series about the campaign to protect land next to the Ōtuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve in Māngere from development as a Special Housing Area.
Matata-Sipu is the also creator of NUKU, a platform which captures and shares the stories of wāhine toa from various industries and backgrounds. With NUKU, Matata-Sipu invites indigenous women to “look through a different lens. A lens made for and made by us.”
“Using a creative, storytelling platform, our non-profit social enterprise amplifies 100 Indigenous female change-makers and leaders through audio podcasts, photography, videography, books, art and live events. They are wāhine doing things differently. Stories of women who do not conform to a ‘mainstream’ image, but dare to carve their own unique portrait, showing us how the world can be shaped by our unique Indigenous voice. Its all about who we are, and not who we’ve been told to be.”
The strength, power and mana of these wāhine toa are perfectly captured by Matata-Sipu’s lens, providing honest and empowering portraits for many indigenous female viewers to learn from and be inspired by.
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Exhibiting his work both nationally and abroad, Sagapolutele uses his photography to explore his upbringing as a Samoan of the diaspora, and how he connects to his Samoan culture and heritage through Fāgogo, or storytelling. While Fāgogo is an important Sāmoan oratory tradition, it is Sagapolutele’s photographs which do all the talking.
A self-taught photographer, Sagapolutele masters light, composition and emotion to capture a wealth of story-telling ability within a single, immovable frame. His pictures are ethereal and haunting, yet didactic and leave lasting impressions on all who see them.
Speaking to RNZ about the Annual Commision, Sagapolutele says, “I’m at this stage in my life now where I can kind of look back at all of what I’ve done, all of the people I’ve been connected too, all of my family, friends that are artists.”
“I can draw on that experience to sort of start posing questions around ‘well I’ve done all of this, what does it mean in relation to where I’m going now?’ Or, how do I add to the wider conversation of what it is that we’re doing here in Aotearoa…where is that voice sitting and how we’re applying that voice into our work.”
The Annual Commission exhibition will open on 9 June at the Pah Homestead. Click here for more details.