After the crit, I felt very lost about what to do next. The sculpture I used during the critical gave a weird reading so I know I had to replace it and after a talk with Christina, using clothing seemed like the next step. It would also give me a chance to test closer to the end result that I want at the end of the year.
Even after this discussion, I felt like I didn't know where to start. Luckily, I already knew what my mid year exhibition space was so, I went into the photo media projection space to feel it out. I recently had an opening with Tautai, Moana Wai Wai, Moana Pati. And in the group show Salvador Brown created a sound scape and set up the room pitch black with chairs to sit and listen.
I really enjoyed the install and work. And because I was so overwhelmed about what it should look like, I took inspiration from Salvador and started with a black room (The Vā) and music.
When I was in the dark room, I felt like I could hear my heart beating so I sampled that audio from online, paired it with the recording I found through my friend. I added an echo to the audio which I felt like it added an air of tapu.
From there I wanted to slowly reintroduce light into the space, and make it more of a reverent space.
During my many supply runs, I really wanted to find gafa, which is rope made from coconut husk, very coarse. But I couldn't find any so I wrapped coconut husk around normal rope. I knew I wanted light up the outfit I made but I was so indecisive for so long that I didn't have enough time to make a new outfit so used something from an old project that had a Traditional Tongan silhouette.
I really wanted to make the dress hover but the weight of the dress wouldn't hold in the wall in that space so I had to put the dress on the mannequin, resting on the ground.
testing coconut husk covering the lights
I was trying VERY hard to make it float in the air but it was too heavy, too flimsy and you could every single bad stitch so I just gave up up put it on the dress form.
It photographs really well. I wrapped more gafa around her, sat the dress form on coconut husk and volcanic rock (very fitting for the islands) and hid cheap touch lights in there to make it look like it was on fire. I added a kava bowl because Hikule’o is well known for being a good kava drinker and blessed the space.
close up of boddess
Havea Hikule’o, Mixed Media Installation, audio run time 6.40 minutes, 2021.
A carving of the Tongan Goddess, Havea Hikule’o, sits on display in the museum with a label stating “…hung by Tangahau on embracing Christianity. July 1830”. The historical moment of the Tongan King rebuking the old gods. The taonga is worth half a million dollars.
How do we reclaim the stories of stolen taonga? How do we tell their stories through the correct lense with reverence and the imbuement of tapu? Havea Hikule’o, is the retracing of steps backwards for knowledge with the leap forward into present, stripped of the trauma colonization inherently brings.
Stories say that Havea Hikule’o was the golden child, a formidable unforgiving woman, and a proficient kava drinker. Goddess of Pulotu (afterworld where the ancestors sing and dance), bound there by gafa (rope) by her jealous brothers, Maui Motu’a and Tangaloa Eiki. They feared that she would escape to the Ma’ama (mortal world) and destroy everything they had built. The stories say that she waits for the day when she is freed, to set fire to the mortal world.
Please enter and close the door behind you.