Vea Mafile`o

Who will douse the kingdom? (riot excerpt) (2007)

2 min 3 sec (excerpt)11 channel installation / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

"'Who will douse the kingdom?' documents riots which took place in the artists' ancestral homeland Tonga, in the capital city Nuku’alofa on the 16th November, 2006.

The artist screens confiscated footage from the protesters gathering peacefully outside the parliamentary building, to the ensuing violence that followed, causing multiple deaths, looting and fires which damaged as much as sixty percent of the local business district.

Her return to Tonga nearly a year following the riots conveys fully the scale of the event where only concrete foundations reside where the once thriving business district once belonged. Karlo Mila recites her poem Who will douse the light to the haunting images.

The work is part of a trilogy of installations and films (digital kava circles), where monitors sit in a circular formation, as you would when drinking kava. Each monitor plays interviews with locals known personally to Mafile`o. The interviewees range from high school students, to the a past King’s personal bodyguard. They discuss their views of the political situation in Tonga at the time, and events that feature in her films. The first in the series 'The Sunsets on the Kingdom' is based on the passing of King Taufa`ahau Tupou IV in 2006.

The kava circle, it is the va and ta where discussions are held, where current events are debated, where decisions are made.  The kava Circle, a ta/va that is practiced daily in Tonga/ by Tongans formally and informally, private and open. Typically a male domain, but the younger generation has been opening doors to females as participants in drinking not just as a role of the Doua."

Artist's statement

Interviewees from the full installation include people from government, hospitality, and private citizens.

Other works in this series

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