A Maternal Lens Film
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It is the water that brought us to our land. Our old people to our land.
It is the water that brought ‘them’ to our land, their new land.
It is the water that falls from our eyes at all that separates us today, from the way we were.
It is the water that continues to call us back to our old peoples thinking.
Auckland-based Fijian curator Ema Tavola invited Julia Mage'au Gray to devise a new work for the exhibition, A Maternal Lens that was staged as part of the 4th International Biennial of Casablanca, Morocco from October 2018.
We presented the act and practice of Melanesian marking as a live, performative contribution to the exhibition, alongside 'The Calling' which represented the contexts and movement of the marking practice from Papua New Guinea, to the diaspora, and to Casablanca. The aim was to share the culture, time and space that surrounds our marks, and that no matter the geography, the marks ground us and respond to a ‘calling’ to reconnect with our people and our land.
Melanesian marking was always a womans practice. In the past water and land would take the men, they would travel and move, fishing and hunting food along the coast and inland for weeks on end, often arduous and perilous journeys. Women would stay to plant gardens, construct and maintain relationships and family networks. Women were the backbone of our socities. Their strength and their connections and their familial wealth were displayed upon their skin. Mothers to daughters, mothers to daughters continued this visual language so that even when the sea and land would separate us (through marriage) the marks would always connect and identify us to our land, to our people.
The Calling - Translations
Ina ranu ese emailaida eda tano ai.
Seneda ema eda tano ai.
Ina ranu ese emailaidia edia tano matamatana ai.
Ina nega lalodiai matada ranudia edia diho ai emeha hepakada guna negadia amo.
Ina ranu ese hanaihanai eboi henidamu seneda edia lalohadai baita louhenidia.
Vei mo i'a emaiseinia i'a a agoai, i'a ufua apa'a e'i agoai
Vei mo isa emaiseini'i i'a a agoai, isa e'i ago mamaga
Vei mo i'a ma'aisai efaka, pau aguaguga ke ufainagai aguaguga fou i'opo'i la'i
Vei mo auakina eifani'a, i'a ufua apa'a e'i ikiva epaopolani'a
Em i dispela wara we i karim yumi i kam long giraun bilong yumi.
Ol tumbuna i kam long giraun bilong yumi.
Emi dispela wara we i karim ol tu i kam, long giraun bilong yumi, niupela giraun bilong ol.
Dispela wara i pundaun long ai bilong yumi, na i burukim yumi nau, long taim bipo.
Na dispela wara tasol i singautim yumi ken i go bek long pasin tumbuna.
C’est l’eau qui nous a amenés sur nos terres.
Nos ancêtres sur nos terres.
C’est l’eau qui les amenés sur nos terres, leur nouvelle terre.
L’eau qui tombe de nos yeux nous sépare de la façon dont nous étions.
C’est l’eau qui continue de nous rappeler à nos anciens.