Sovereign Pacific/Pacific Sovereigns includes five new works for cinema by Rangituhia Hollis, Ana Iti, Alex Monteith, Sione Monu and Gary-Ross Pastrana.
Commissioned by CIRCUIT and curated by Singapore-based academic and curator David Teh, each artist was given two concepts as prompts from which to create a new work.
The first idea, Pacific Concretism, seeks to explore "errant modernisms"—artworks at junctions between traditional forms of visual art and other forms such as experimental literature, theatre and poetry. A second idea, Sovereignty, asks: what would a Sovereign Pacific artwork look like outside of traditional Western ideas of influence and form?
The resulting five works were completed amidst the complexities of Covid-19, but also engage with the scale of history that extends before colonisation, and sometimes into the realm of science fiction.
Rangituhia Hollis’ work is a kaleidoscopic animation that begins with the voice of a lone driver observing the passage of the moon in the night sky. From a personal and poetic beginning, the film moves to surreal, vivid scenes of molecular forms and a domestic interior flooded by water.
Ana Iti reworks two 19th century editions of the Māori language newspaper Te Pīpīwharauroa to build an experimental narrative which explores ideas around language and understanding.
Alex Monteith has responded to the brief with an ambitious essay film. Set between Moana-nui-a-Kiwa and the Atlantic, it explores neo-colonial issues from commercial ocean exploration to local foreshore management at Piha.
Sione Monu’s video presents a subtly different everyday world, imagined as if Tonga had never encountered influence from the West. In this alternate universe crystals are the main export/import in Tonga economy, and the main signifier of this alternate world is costume.
The fifth artist in the programme, Gary-Ross Pastrana, is a Filipino artist based in Manila. Pastrana’s work takes known objects and subjects them to processes which reinvent their identity, materiality and image.
Curator, David Teh
David Teh first visited Aotearoa in 2018 where he was researching Aotearoa artists for possible inclusion in international projects. He has been working remotely with CIRCUIT since 2019. He has also curated the accompanying Symposium, which expands upon the ideas raised in the Commission programme with a range of artist and academic speakers.
Artist Cinema Commissions
Commissioned annually by CIRCUIT since 2015, the Artist Cinema Commissions ask contemporary artists who normally work in the gallery to make a work for cinema. The resulting works have toured to London Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival and art galleries across Aotearoa, opening up new audiences for local artists.
The 2020 Artist Cinema Commissions were premiered as part of AURA Festival of Artist Moving Images, which included the associated symposium Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns.
Artspace Aotearoa, April–May 2021
Grand Hall, Christchurch Arts Centre, 2-31 March 2021
Pātaka Art + Museum, Porirua, Wellington 2020