2009 CAA Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA, February 25-28, 2009

Pacific Arts Association – Affiliated Organization Session
CAA (College Art Association) 97th Annual Conference
Los Angeles, CA, February 25-28, 2009

Session: “Urban Pacific Art in Aotearoa New Zealand
Friday, February 27, 12:30-2:00
Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA
Concourse Meeting Room 408B, Level 2

: Christina Hellmich, deYoung Museum; Giles Peterson Whitecliffe, College of Art and Design, Auckland, New Zealand
: Christina Hellmich, de Young Museum

Young contemporary artists in New Zealand are shaping a new Pacific identity reflecting their experiences in urban centers.  Their work has been featured in several recent exhibitions in New Zealand expanding their reach toward new and international audiences.  This exhibition movement is distinguished by the curatorial efforts of Pacific Islanders and Pacific-born academics.  Artists play a key role.

In 2004, the Asia Society presented, "Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific," the first major exhibition in the United States of contemporary art from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.  The exhibition's curator, Melissa Chu, stated that, "New Zealand is the cultural, social, economic and political hub for the whole region and the center for exciting work by a new generation of artists."  However, other American art museums have been slow to integrate contemporary Pacific art into their vast Pacific collections and gallery spaces. Some have not begun at all.  There has not been another exhibition of contemporary Pacific art in a major American art museum since the Asia Society's ground-breaking show.

Curator and lecturer Giles Peterson highlights his recent Auckland Festival group exhibition, Urban Pacific: New Pacific Art.  Ema Tavola will speak about Fresh Gallery Otara, an influential community gallery space in south Auckland, New Zealand.   Leilani Kake defines herself as an urban pacific island video artist working within the greater cultural framework as a Pacific Islander of both Maori and Cook Island ancestry. They will all reference the distinctive New Zealand context for their work in comparison with a Pacific regional context.  Christina Hellmich, curator of Oceanic art at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and panel members will then discuss the opportunities and obstacles for urban Pacific art in American art museums and explore the contrasting environments for urban Pacific art in New Zealand and the United States.

From Niu to New
Giles Peterson, Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, Auckland, New Zealand
My paper will discuss my curatorial efforts to reflect the multiple voices and experiences of young urban based Pacific artists in Aotearoa New Zealand in exhibitions.  My most recent exhibition project, Urban Pacific, included works from twelve young Maori and Pacific Island artists, on the cutting edge of contemporary and customary practice -drawing from tattoo and body art, weaving, skater and graffiti culture, underground hip hop music, film and video art, contemporary photography, street wear and urban pacific fashion and design.

Urban Pacific may very well redefine contemporary urban experience for the exhibition viewer.  It certainly gives the young artists involved much needed visibility and a place to stand, speak, and be heard.  Much of my work over the last decade has been involved in supporting and creating opportunities for young Pacific artists.  I regard the exhibitions that I curate as catalysts and markers of social change - as exhibition spaces where the artist's voice is given primacy, and where their voice is heard.

Fresh Gallery Otara: Contemporary Pacific Art & Audiences in South Auckland
Ema Tavola, Fresh Gallery Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand
Fresh Gallery Otara is a visual arts facility of Manukau City Council in South Auckland, New Zealand. It was established in 2006 to function as an exhibitions gallery offering professional development opportunities to local visual artists as well as a robust programme of monthly exhibitions and events. As a service provider to the local community, it is the Gallery's mandate to make art accessible and relevant, whilst offering contemporary Pacific artists an opportunity to present their work and ideas in a gallery context to a largely Pacific audience.

As a Council arts facility, the Gallery functions more as an Artist Run Space than a dealer gallery: exhibitions do not have an emphasis on generating sales and the curatorial focus is to create poignant site specific art experiences that invest importance in contemporary Pacific arts as a reflection of peoples and change. Beyond institutionalized arts appreciation, Fresh Gallery Otara aims to be a mediation space where both art viewing and cultural viewing protocols apply in an effort to effectively acknowledge the people and cultures contemporary Pacific art purports to represent.

This paper endeavours to provide insight into a small but powerful contemporary Pacific arts venue, its efforts to change viewing protocols and challenge stigma within both traditional fine arts and grassroots Pacific communities living in diaspora in South Auckland.

Woven Worlds
Leilani Kake, Independent New Media Artist

The Cook Island art of Tivaevae / quilting and its method of construction is a symbolic cultural art process; weaving communities together, creating and strengthening relationships and sharing cultural identity, like each hand sewn stitch each individual arrives at the tivaevae with their own unique story.

As an urban pacific island video artist my story/paper will investigate and celebrate the polyphony of urban Pacific Island identity and discuss my cultural conceptual foundations and explore my own life experiences on which my artwork is informed and stands proudly.  I will review my two most recent works Ariki 2007 which honours the Cook Island haircutting ceremony and the social process that surrounds it regarding parenting relationships and community; And Talking Tivaevae 2005 where weaving as a layered form of communication narrates my place within the greater cultural framework as a Pacific Islander of both Maori and Cook Island ancestry.

Information about CAA, including membership information and the full conference schedule, is available at their web site: www.collegeart.org.

For information about PAA’s role at CAA, contact North American Vice-President, Christina Hellmich: chellmich@famsf.org.

The PAA business meeting took place following the PAA session on Friday, February 27, 2008 from 5:30-7:00 P.M. in the same location.

Photos from the PAA at CAA 2009:

PAA at CAA Disscusant and Panel Speakers (from left to right): Giles Peterson, Ema Tavola,
Christina Hellmich, and Leilani Kake.

PAA members enjoy the evening together following a successful session at CAA.