Julia Mage’au of Sunameke presents her next solo work 'Found Words', making comment on the discoveries of sleeping knowledge in museums and libraries and the constant pressure to own and balance the knowledge that comes with their awakening. With the poetry of the late Teresia Teaiwa, Costume design by Dru Douglas from Lumai, Sunameke short film and dance by Julia, 'Found Words' is an expression of connection and disconnection to the past and the present of our Pacific heritage.
Images from the sunameke short clips presented in 'Found Words' (Defining Pasifika | Identify Me | Bag Lady | Preserve Me | This Book)
Dance Reviews: Wahine Toa (excerpts)
Where & when: Mangere Arts Centre, 16 Jun, 2017
Reviewer: Vivian Arthur Hosking-Aue
Husk of a coconut…Get to the sweet meat…maybe you want to do it again?
Entering the stage, Julia Mage'au Gray draped in a white netted cloth around her body with minimal light, is a spectacle to watch. A bare-chested woman projects on the cyclorama, wise words of knowledge by the late Teresia Teaiwa are heard, a film created by Gray is played and subtle and powerful Melanesian movements performed in representation of Teaiwa's text. Gray's performance is professional, powerful and positively shifts the vibe of the show. Research and study are evident throughout Gray's performance installation.
ENTERTAINMENT, NZ HERALD
Where & when: Mangere Arts Centre, 16 Jun, 2017
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte
The urgent need to reclaim traditional heritage and connections to the past feature in Found Words, a sophisticated performance installation by Julia Mage'au Gray with poetry by Teresia Teaiwa, clothing by Dru Douglas and film by Gray. The layers of film, movement and text overlap and crosshatch as she throws out her net/dress to harvest reclaimed knowledge.
As part of the APT8 opening 'Live' performances at QAGOMA, Sunameke presented A'inaisa.
A'inaisa was a response to our Pasifika cultures being censored by a dominant cultural perspective.
Our cultural arts practices often being censored and deemed inappropriate for the public.
A'inaisa at APT8
Article by Sarah Nesbitt
“Caution,” or, “How far do we need to go to fit into
your white box?” Sunameke and the adaptation of Pacifica Cultural Practice for the 8th Asian Pacific Triennial (APT8), Brisbane Australia
First published in the 'Esse' Journal
In November 2015, Rarotonga born, Aotearoa (New Zealand) based contemporary artist, Numangatini Fraser Mackenzie (Numa) posted a series of photos on Facebook accompanied by the provocative caption: “Sunameke sisters activating...Show[ing] how their culture is [...] censored by institutions and deemed inappropriate for the public. Even though you’re invited you still need to fit in the white box #apt8 #sunameke.”
The photos were Numa’s documentation of a performative intervention called A’inaisa. (a Mekeo word that roughly translates as “I am responsible for that,”) by the Papua New Guinean/Australian performance group Sunameke, under the direction of Julia Mage’au Gray.2 Performed in November 2015, at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), A’inaisa centred around a young Papua woman, Moale James, who is supported by Julia and seven other women, all members of Sunameke. The black geometric tattoos that covered Moale’s body and face; long vibrant red, white, and black beaded necklaces which draped over her bare chest; long multi-colored grass skirt; headpiece; and decorative arm and ankle bands distinguished her from the sterile gallery environment. In contrast, Julia and the seven women are minimally adorned, wearing black tank tops and skirts, carrying woven shoulder bags, and two strings of beads, which they hold in each hand.
With Tattoo, Dogs teeth, Gowns, Coconut oil and Torch light.
How do Hapakasi, Afakasi, Afa, Mixed Race Islanders manage many worlds?
Sunameke gathers its stories for Dear Aunty from surveys sent out through facebook and YouTube and brings it together in dance and music.
These tales of acceptance are delivered with a soft punch and a wicked smile..
Its an intimate perspective on what it is to be mixed race living in Australia. From the Islands to Aussie within our own bodies we find the balance. Confronting and beautiful this show is just like its namesake. Highly versatile we transform from supermodels to thieves and all the while we tell you about her.
A sneak peek into the lives of the Hapakasi!
Presented @ The Best Of Auditions, Pasifika Festival
at the GALATOS, Auckland
10th Mar 2010
Words from Tanya Muagututia
Sunameke brings a fresh and contemporary look at cultural identity through multimedia and movement in 'Dear Aunty'
A short film that shows it's members' candid view on how the world sees them as 'islanders' living in Australia sets up a thought provoking challenge of 'first impressions' and mis-identity in an urban setting.
Tatau or tattoo markings are some imagery used in the film to assist with this idea, but it's the thick Australian accents, and close up of the faces that really make this challenge stand out.
Following is a movement piece that further depicts identity through the infamous 'Miss South Pacific Pageant' and perhaps how the world should see us represented or representing our island nations.
The simplicity of the piece is charming and the shortness of its entirety makes you yearn for a little more.
Who Born You recounts the personal Kokoda Trail adventures of mixed-race modern women. Women born from Indigenous cultures impacted upon by Christian Missionaries and Western Lifestyle.
It impels audiences to question depictions of Pacific women as not unlike traditional idols now seen as objects of art in a museum or gallery.
Intimate and thought provoking, it challenges the stereotype of the Pacific Woman with flowers in her hair and a beckoning smile.
Delving into the contemporary world of rhythmic hips, shoe boxes, shared space and
Who Born You will rock your heart and weave the tracks of the modern day Pacific Woman.
Who Born You
'Who Born You?' December 10th 2010
@ Darwin Entertainment Centre.
We all relish in modern day conveniences; driving our Japanese cars, sipping on European beers and wines, eating ethnic foods, leaving our dishes to the dishwasher. Globalisation has seeped through the cracks of our everyday lives and is now an inescapable part of living in a 'developed' nation. Admittedly, there are a number of advantages stemming from Globalisation - I wouldn't be planning my holiday to Switzerland if it weren't for the Boeing Jet obliterating the distance! Within the realm of culture, however, globalisation has not only developed the concept of cultural diversity, but posed a number of difficult questions for many of the worlds cultures, especially those of mixed-cultural heritage:
Who Born You?
Through the thought-provoking production of Who Born You?, Julia Gray and Sunameke depict the struggle and growth of the mixed race woman's existence in a globalised world where she is torn between two lives. How does she maintain her heritage but conform to her life in Australia? Does she abandon one part of her and embrace the other? I really felt like asking, 'who is this woman'? How can she identify herself? Here is a woman of rich cultural heritage, thrust into a globalised and homogenised society, and searching frantically for a space to ground her bare feet. She is desperately clinging to her cultural roots, refusing to be washed away by a global and homogenised culture, but her identity is blurred and hazy.The deep beats and echoes of harmonies evoke mystery and past tragedies of burden and sadness, perhaps carried by the woman depicted.
The dancing portrays beautifully the questions of identity this Pacific mixed-race woman faces. The choreography is packed full of symbolisation and metaphors to enhance the experience. The theme of new and old worlds colliding reverberates throughout the work - traditional music intertwined with glitch beats and bass, traditional rhythmic hips combined with contemporary movements, as well as the use of video and visual accompaniments. The costumes are very much Pacific styled and the simplicity of them drew my attention more to the movements of the dancing.
The story flows seamlessly, with a comical duo creating ripples of giggles throughout the audience. The culmination of the journey ends with a magnificent final 'unravelling', a scene of final discovery, revelation, and realisation. The entire work brought to mind the words of the wise Mahatma Gandhi, "No culture can live if it wants to be exclusive."
The modern mixed-race Pacific woman perhaps needs to embrace both of her cultural parentages so that she may form her own unique identity
Nesian Pride has been a part of Sunameke’s history since 2005. With an aim to showcase the true multicultural nature of Darwin’s Pacific performing community, the first Nesian Pride production laid the foundations for the evolved and more dynamic shows Sunameke presented in 2012 and 2013.
Watch: ABC TV Nesian Pride Report
The South Pacific Beauty Pageant in Suva, Fiji 2009
Climate Change - Melanesian Night
Pacific Storms in Brisbane, 2009
Pasifika Festival in Auckland, March 2010
"The water used to be 15 metres from Chachu's door, now it's only 4 metres away" The sea at Mata'an (the eye of the water) Beach in Loniu, Manus Islands (PNG) is rising.
Sunameke Productions debuted "Chauka Calling" at the 2009 Miss South Pacific Pageant in Suva, Fiji. The performance was televised across the Pacific to an audience of 6 million people. "Chauka Calling" was created to raise awareness of climate change and it's effects in Oceania. Using traditional stories, dances and songs from across Oceania in a contemporary context; Sunameke illustrated the links between pacific islanders and the sea and highlighted the future adversity that awaits them in the form of climate change.
The legend of "Leveyam" tells the story of a young man and his new wife, whom the Chauka, the gaurdian bird of the village discovers is a masalai or spirit. The Chauka bird warns the villagers of the imminent danger Leveyam's wife represents, and in response the villagers take to their canoes and leave their village behind to start new lives. "Leveyam" was the inspiration for "Chauka Calling" as the Chauka