UC’s new Artist in Residence defies convention

29 May 2019

Tuafale Tanoa’i is the 2019 Pacific Artist in Residence at the University of Canterbury: “It’s my first time living in Christchurch and I’m looking forward to meeting new communities here, exploring issues and capturing commentary with still and moving images while at UC for the next three months.”

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    Tuafale Tanoa’i is the 2019 Pacific Artist in Residence at the University of Canterbury. She is usually based in Auckland where she is known as a community photographer, videographer and DJ.

Tuafale Tanoa’i is the 2019 Pacific Artist in Residence at the University of Canterbury (UC). She is usually based in Auckland where she is known as a community photographer, videographer and DJ.

Also known as Linda T, Tanoa’i is an active participant in Māori, Pacific and LGBTQI+ communities, documenting their activities and stories. She describes herself as a performance, video installation artist with community building and archiving foremost in her motivations. Her work is a vehicle for communities, often disadvantaged, to be heard.

“What I do is unique,” says Tanoa’i. “I’m not into capitalism or mainstream movie-making. Much of the work I do I gift back to the communities that feature in the works,” she says.

“I’m hoping to create a new body of work, moving forward with the documentaries already in progress. Staff and students can come and visit me in The Hut on campus.

“It’s my first time living in Christchurch and I’m looking forward to meeting new communities here, exploring issues and capturing commentary with still and moving images while at UC for the next three months. I might collect interviews, along with people photos and video footage to illustrate things,” Tanoa’i says.

Her creative space at UC is filled with a mixture of low-tech film and digital recording equipment, CDs of Pacific and Aotearoa New Zealand-based music, as well as DVDs she has made of events; both family and public, and community commentaries on issues they face.

“I’m proud of my Samoan heritage but am disappointed at the struggle faced by those who feel trampled by white privilege,” she says.

The artist does very little editing in her documentaries, preferring to allow things to evolve spontaneously and without putting her own spin on issues. In her opinion content is key, not technical mastery, which leaves her work raw, real and compelling.

“I’m behind the camera so much I have little time for editing. After my residency here as an Artist in Residence I intend to look for other art spaces and residencies to continue to create works for public consumption and maybe even have a moving image film festival,” she says.

“Tuafale’s inclusion into our team will provide a dynamic and enriching impact because of her multidimensional artistic skills and creative styles,” says Professor Steven Ratuva, Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.

“She has transformed people-to-people relations and engagement into an art – something which the University will benefit from. As part of our partnership with the Physics Room, she will also do a public exhibition in their studio in the city.”

Tanoa’i gained a Master’s degree in Art and Design with First Class Honours from AUT. She has worked with various organisations, from community to government-led initiatives with a special interest in Pacific women’s health and youth.

Tanoa’i’s residency is supported by Creative New Zealand and the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.

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