About Ema

Photo by Pati Solomona Tyrell

Ema Tavola (b.1982) is an independent artist-curator based in South Auckland, New Zealand. Having established her practice whilst managing Fresh Gallery Ōtara, a local government funded community art gallery, Tavola’s curatorial concerns are grounded in the opportunities of contemporary art to engage grassroots audiences, shift representational politics and archive the Pacific diaspora experience. Tavola has worked in galleries and museums throughout New Zealand and is committed to curating as a mechanism for social inclusion, centralising Pacific ways of seeing, and exhibition making as a mode of decolonisation.

Recent curatorial projects include,

  • A Maternal Lens (2018) for the 4th International Biennial of Casablanca (Morocco)
  • Dravuni: Sivia yani na Vunilagi – Beyond the Horizon (2016/2018) for the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific (Fiji)
  • Kaitani (2017) for The Physics Room (New Zealand)

As an active member of the South Auckland and Pacific arts community, Tavola has been engaged to produce events, conduct research and facilitate community engagement initiatives that centralise Pacific art, communities and dialogue approaches.

Highlights include,

  • February Dreaming: A Southside Hangout (2019) for Māngere Ōtāhuhu Arts
  • Mapping Creative Hustle (2018) for Māngere Ōtāhuhu Arts
  • May Meet Up (2018) for Māngere Ōtāhuhu Arts
  • #RealTalk: Gentrifying South Auckland (2017) for Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery
  • Pacific Creative Entrepreneur Needs Analysis (2017) for British Council and Tautai Trust
  • #RealTalk: Safe Space / Best Practice (2017) for ARTSPACE
  • Le Malelega o le To’elau Art Auction (2016) at Lime Espresso Bar & Eatery
  • PIMPI Winter Series (2015) at Williams Tattoo & Barber
  • #2girls1conference: The Otara Talks (2013) at Ōtara Scorpions Clubrooms
  • OTARAfest (2013) for Manukau Institute of Technology

Tavola has delivered papers, contributed to panel discussions and symposia both nationally and internationally since 2012.

Recent engagements include,

  • Guest Lecture, Perspectives Series (2019) for ACE Open (Adelaide, Australia)
  • Speaker, Para Site International Conference (2019) for Para Site (Hong Kong)
  • Guest speaker, Singapore Art Book Fair (2019) for NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (Singapore)
  • Guest speaker, Spinning Triangles: Ignition of a School of Design (2019) for SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin, Germany / Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Keynote speaker, Aesthetics, Politics and Histories: The Social Context of Art AAANZ Conference (2018) for RMIT (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Guest speaker, Heritage Deferred? Colonialism’s Past and Present (2018) for Goethe-Institut (Berlin, Germany)

Get in touch with Ema to discuss a project