Featuring Margaret Aull (Tuwharetoa / Te Rarawa, Fiji), Melissa Cole (Ngati Hine, Ngati Kahu), Tanu Gago (Sāmoa, NZ), Julia Mage’au Gray (Papua New Guinea, Australia), Leilani Kake (Ngapuhi / Tainui, Cook Islands), Andy Leleisi’uao (Sāmoa, NZ), Niutuiatua Lemalu (Sāmoa, NZ), Sinia Malua (Tonga, NZ), Molima Pihigia (Niue, NZ) Vea Mafile’o (Tonga, NZ), ‘Ahota’e’iloa Toetu’u (Tonga, NZ), Vaimaila Urale (Sāmoa, NZ) and Daniel Weetman (Fiji, NZ).

Curated by Ema Tavola

1-29 June 2019

WWJD:2 is the second in a series of exhibitions that pay tribute to the late Cook Islands curator, Jim Vivieaere, who passed away on June 3, 2011. Vivieaere was an iconic figure in the development of contemporary Pacific art, and a mentor and sounding board for curator, Ema Tavola.

The first exhibition, “WWJD (What Would Jim Do?)” (2012) was the last exhibition Tavola produced at Fresh Gallery Ōtara, a community gallery in South Auckland where she produced 66 exhibitions from 2006-2012. Seven years later, WWJD:2 is the first at Vunilagi Vou, Tavola’s own independent gallery space. The symbolic connection honours Vivieaere’s influence and encouragement for Tavola to find her curatorial voice. The number of artists involved – 13 – represents 13 years of Fresh Gallery Ōtara’s contribution to New Zealand art history.

WWJD:2 is a large group show featuring predominantly local South Auckland-based artists working in the mediums of textiles, photography, painting, film and paper. For some artists, the works in the show have been exhibited previously in mainstream public and dealer galleries; for Tavola, WWJD:2 is a purposeful re-positioning of these works into Pacific space.

SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN series by Tanu Gago

WWJD:2 represents a colour filled snapshot of the breadth and depth of contemporary Pacific art, from Tavola’s South Auckland perspective. The artists involved range from emerging to senior, and symbolically honour intergenerational connections across more than 20 years of contemporary Pacific art history unique to Aotearoa.

In this flagship inaugural exhibition, Tavola juxtaposes Pacific ‘heritage’ artists and those framed as ‘contemporary’ to actively highlight the continuum of creative production that connects grassroots practices and those that have been nurtured and groomed for the gallery world. As Ōtāhuhu-based Tongan curator, Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai has impressed at many points in her excellent career, everything made today is justifiably contemporary, from our mamas creating adornment for church wear to our most esteemed formally art school trained fine artists.

WWJD:2 is a site-specific response to Vunilagi Vou’s position in Ōtāhuhu and South Auckland, honouring local audiences and purposefully expanding the idea and potential of what contemporary Pacific is and can be.

Vunilagi Vou opening hours:

Tuesday – Thursday: 10am – 5pm
Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Sunday / Monday: Closed