Monday, 17 November 2008

tourist in my own land....

Have you ever had that experience where you wander around your neighbourhood and suddenly discover something new that you hadn’t seen or experienced before? Something that was probably there all the time, but you took it for granted, or missed it in the daze of just getting through life? That happened to me recently at Manukau Festival of the Arts 2008.

Manukau is one of the most diverse districts in NZ with over 180 ethnic groups living in the surrounds, and nearly 40 percent speaking two or more languages (with Samoan being the most widely spoken language after English). It’s a place where new sub-divisions sit uneasily next to state housing ghettos, and roads often are the only barrier between utter poverty and suburban utopia.

Over the weekend I attended several different events in the final days of the festival: a writing workshop, an exhibition of work from students at Manukau School of Visual Arts, and a Pecha Kucha evening.

Highlights for me were… the work of final year student Raewyn Pope who made wonderful light installations using second hand and recycled materials.

Tin cans, plastic plates, old gardening implements…all of them were illuminated to create grass-roots chandeliers and glowing Tupperware. (I have a project in mind that I would love to entice her into;-)

I also liked Charlie Lu’s illuminated pictures depicted life in Auckland in shiny 2D, kitchy but fun.

Another student, Krystle Tavai, created an un-fictional suburb called Mannixville using life size figures and the graphic novel form. The feel of it was very south Auckland but the style was comic book/colouring-in book. This caught my eye because one of my current projects/experiments involves older youth creating books for younger children in their neighbourhoods.The idea of colouring books featuring pictures of people and things that kids can relate to in their own neighbourhood inspires me!. (This idea was generated by Tama Johnson at CEAT Ltd, the alternative education school I am collaborating with).

At the Pecha Kucha night held at the Telstra Pacific Centre, there were many standouts. Benjamin Work, a born again Christian graffiti artist who has achieved some degree of fame internationally with his grass-roots based work.
[if you are into some pretty innovative graffiti art see ANATs site!]

Siliga David Setoga who uses t-shirt as his medium for cultural commentary.

Other speakers included: Coco Solid an independent publisher revolutionary comic book creator and musician, Raymond Raymond Sagapolutele aka RIMONI ‘brotographer’at large in South Auckland, Matthew Salapu Faiumu aka ANONYMOUZ a classically trained pianist and rapper working with youth in the area and Andrew Tu’inukuafe architect who’s work in NZ is inspired by the idea of NZ as a pacific nation. Take a look at the site…I was incredibly inspired by the people who spoke, all of whom affirmed for me the tremendous creative power generated by diverse identity within close knit community.

PS: I also really enjoyed seeing people being forced to present well by nature of the format. Will definitely experiment with that format (20 photos of 20 seconds each) next time I run a gig.

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