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Announcement
March 29, 2016

Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina: The Flame of the Pacific Rebecca Ann Hobbs: Ihumātao

ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University
Tita Salina, Longevity, 2015. Photo: Rangga Aditiawan.

Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina are an artist duo from Jakarta. Their tactical, interventionist approach is developed in response to living in a megacity of 15 million people, and amid large-scale contemporary political power struggles. They frequently deal with social issues in public space, translating them into spontaneously unfolding events. The lack of institutional support in Indonesia has encouraged a self-organised and collective spirit, which in Salina and Ahmett’s practices manifests as a series of interventions termed urban play. Local civic problems are strategically responded to within a universal currency of “playfulness,” which is understood as having imaginative capacity to generate critical alternatives to these complicated issues.

Their current research relates to geopolitical readings of the Pacific Rim of Fire, which links Aotearoa New Zealand and Indonesia. They have previously made work in response to the radioactive leak in Fukushima, Japan; the oppressive agendas of colonialism in Java, Indonesia; the clash of ideologies in the Cold War period that took millions of lives in Indonesia, and human trafficking in Taiwan. Ahmett and Salina see the intense and unstable territory that is the Pacific Rim as a long-term future focus, working as they do within a region which is volatile both inside and above the earth’s surface—site of historical events such as the Pacific War (the Asia-Pacific theatre ofWWII), frequent volcanic explosions and earthquakes, and present-day development which increasingly marginalises indigenous populations through corporate control initiatives such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

During their research residency in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Ahmett and Salina are working on a series of imaginative responses towards aspects of the local context in connection with the geopolitics of the Pacific Rim. Their points of focus are the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) in relation to ongoing issues of land ownership and sovereignty; the Polynesian Panthers and other social movements in Auckland in the 1970s—addressed as an inspirational peaceful form in relation to the Free West Papua movement—and homelessness in Auckland.

Ihumātao is an exhibition by Rebecca Ann Hobbs, developed in dialogue with the Fellowship project. Hobbs’ project advocates for the appreciation of ngā puia o Tāmaki Makaurau (the volcanic field of Auckland) by raising the profile of volcanic features with artworks that celebrate the contemporary relationships that communities have with these precious sites. Ihumātao focuses on the peninsula, which encompasses the Otuataua Stonefields, Maungataketake, Otuataua and Pukeiti. The Ihumātao area contains archaeological sites that are protected under the Historic Places Act (1993). The area of open land surrounding these sites has recently been made a Special Housing Area for new housing to ease pressure in Auckland. This decision has put many significant cultural and geological features of the area under threat. Hobbs is collaborating with local residents, artists, and others to respond to the area’s historic and contemporary geological, volcanic, social and cultural narratives. The artist’s approach is underpinned by the research question: “How can I perform multimedia art works that engage with experience-centered content, in locally specific contexts, in a reciprocal manner?”

Research Fellowship
ST PAUL St Gallery’s biannual Research Fellowship is a three-month residency culminating in an exhibition and publication. The fellowship is intended for the development of a project which expands the regular exhibition programme into wider social and political situations both locally and internationally within the Asia-Pacific region. The publication for the previous fellowship with Sakiko Sugawa, Co-Revolutionary Praxis: accompaniment as a strategy for working together (2015), is available here.

ST PAUL St Gallery
ST PAUL St Gallery is a non-collecting gallery based within the School of Art + Design, AUT University. The Gallery is dedicated to the development of contemporary art and design through an international programme of exhibitions, events, symposia and publications. ST PAUL St Gallery embraces one of the primary instructions for universities in the New Zealand Education Act (1989), that they “accept a role as critic and conscience of society.” We also interrogate the longstanding proposition that the arts have a particular capacity to speak critically about society.

For more information contact Gallery Director Charlotte Huddleston.

 

ST PAUL St Gallery Research Fellowship: Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, and Rebecca Ann Hobbs

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