The Inner Lives of Islands explores storytelling instincts from artists from across the Asia-Pacific and how these might reflect ideas of nationhood and diasporic identities from this region. The artists in this exhibition produce fictions, mine familial histories and respond to external media conventions to make sense of their presence in the world from the vantage point of the Pacific Ocean. In the same way we may perceive dreams to subconsciously resolve issues from our waking lives, the narratives here impose structure and sense-making onto the improbable realities faced by Pacific and Asian peoples. This kind of confabulation, or filling in of the blanks, creates at the same time new possibilities for seeing and being in the world. The Inner Lives of Islands combines these narratives beyond mere assemblage, creating stories with agency and intentionality.
The Inner Lives of Islands essay by Robbie Handcock
→ The Kalampag Tracking Agency curated by Merv Espina & Shireen Seno – screening programme
→ The Orator (O Le Tulafale) film screening
→ SOUTH SOUTH – interview with curator Robbie Handcock
→ RNZ Standing Room Only – interview with Christopher Ulutupu
→ CIRCUIT CAST – Episode 99: Christopher Ulutupu with Robbie Handcock
→ Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono – The Inner Lives of Islands
→ The Art Paper – Island Queerness in the Diaspora: Sione Monū and Christopher Ulutupu in Conversation with Robbie Handcock
→ The Art Paper – Shireen Seno in Conversation
About the artists
Christopher Ulutupu (Aotearoa NZ)
Christopher Ulutupu (b.1987) is an artist of Samoan, Niuean and German descent currently based in Pōneke. His video practice and performance work explores ideas around landscape, photography and the construction of colonial narratives. Ulutupu has held exhibitions and screenings at Cement Fondu, Sydney; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Jhana Millers, Pōneke Wellington; the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany; Enjoy, Pōneke Wellington; and SCAPE Public Art, Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Emerita Baik (Aotearoa NZ)
Emerita Baik (b.1994) is an artist based in Pōneke, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Massey University. Her sculptural works explore the relationship between language, abstraction and materiality, as informed by the experience of living in between the cultures of Korea and Aotearoa. Recent exhibitions include The fairy and the woodcutter, Robert Heald Gallery, Pōneke Wellington (2020); 꿈, Enjoy, Pōneke Wellington (2020); I love more than two loves, RM, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (2019); and EOmma, Toi Pōneke Arts Centre, Pōneke Wellington (2019).
Shireen Seno (Philippines)
Shireen Seno (b.1983) is an artist and filmmaker whose work addresses memory, history, and image-making, often in relation to the idea of home. Her work has been exhibited in shows at Manila Contemporary, Green Papaya Art Projects, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany. Her feature films have screened as part of programmes associated with the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Sione Tuívailala Monū (Australia/Aotearoa NZ)
Sione Tuívailala Monū (b.1993) is an artist of Tongan descent who works across the mediums of photography, moving image, adornment, performance and drawing. His practice draws on ideas of identity, family and Pasifika diasporic and queer experiences. Monū was recently part of CIRCUIT Symposium 2020: Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns, Pātaka Art + Museum, Porirua (2020); Spheres: An Online Video Project, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū (2020); Kaoha Kakala, Fresh Gallery Ōtara and Objectspace (2017); and Statuesque Anarchy, Enjoy, Pōneke Wellington (2017).
Yuki Iiyama (Japan)
Yuki Iiyama (b.1988) lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. Iiyama creates installations that consist of video works, recorded materials and objects such as hand-knitted tapestries. By using records of the past and interviews with people, she examines the relationships between individuals, society and history. She explores processes of social stigmatisation brought forth by the narratives and testimonies of her collaborators through their lived experiences. Iiyama was part of the Yokohama Triennale in 2020 and is represented by WAITINGROOM, Tokyo.
About Robbie Handcock
Robbie Handcock is a Filipino/Pākehā artist and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau. He was a facilitator with artist-run gallery play_station in Te Whanganui-a-Tara from 2019 to 2020 and currently works as Public Programmes Officer for Gus Fisher Gallery. He also hosts the podcast Popular Glory: Contemporary Queerness and the Moving Image with CIRCUIT.