Edith Amituanai: Double Take

Edith Amituanai: Double Take

Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi 
Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade

Curated by Ane Tonga
11 May – 14 July 2019
Opening: Friday 10 May, 6pm

Exhibition tour: Saturday 11 May, 11am with Edith Amituanai and Ane Tonga

Talk: Haruhiko Sameshima: Saturday 11 May, 1pm at New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata

In conjunction with the exhibition Edith and George: in our sea of islands at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Auckland-based photographer Haruhiko Sameshima presents an illustrated talk exploring Edith Amituanai’s place within documentary and studio photographic traditions in New Zealand.

Part of the Photival festival of photography

Edith Amituanai, 'SwitchHittaz in the new park' (detail), 2017

Edith Amituanai, 'SwitchHittaz in the new park' (detail), 2017

Presenting over 60 photographic works both inside and outside the Gallery, the exhibition is the first to survey New Zealand-born Samoan artist Edith Amituanai's photographic practice in its entirety, providing insights into the various bodies of work she has produced since 2003.

Edith Amituanai is a pioneer in the medium of photography in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is one of the first artists of Samoan descent to take up a camera as her medium and to use this to offer insights into Samoan life in New Zealand and the migrant experience here and abroad. She has been honoured for her work, being the first recipient of the Marti Friedlander Photography Award presented by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and a finalist in the Walters Prize, New Zealand's premier art award.

Double Take surveys Amituanai's extensive body of photographic images exploring families, friends and communities, in places they have made home, from intimate domestic spaces to the public sports fields, streets, and shopping centres.

The show pays special attention to Amituanai's desire to 'make her people visible', whether this is her extended family, the students who pass her driveway, the youths and school kids she works with in West Auckland or the Hawkes Bay, or fellow travellers who have had to make new lives far from their cultural roots. It also addresses her social concerns as an artist - her effort to work directly within her community in order to create platforms for the expression of urban identities to boost the visibility of Pasifika people in New Zealand.

An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. Designed by Kelvin Soh (DD/MM/YY) it includes a lead essay by the exhibition's curator Ane Tonga, an interview with the artist and Anna Miles, and short essays by Christina Barton, Haruhiko Sameshima, and Niko Besnier.

Double Take is accompanied by a substantial public programme designed with the artist, the guest curator and Herbert Bartley, Pasifika Advisor at the CoCA at Massey University. The events are designed to reach out to the Pacific community and ensure a sense of community ownership of the occasion of the exhibition. Exciting events include Adam Art Gallery's hosting Tautai Arts Trust's First Friday event in on Friday 5 July, and focused events for secondary school teachers and pupils.

Amituanai's work extends outside the gallery, with a large scale photographic prints produced for the Gallery fa9ade and a prominent billboard in Wellington city for the month of May. The artist will take over the Gallery's lnstagram account with her own content and is working with Siren Crew to develop video-based online material for the exhibition.

The exhibition has received substantial funding from Tautai Pacific Arts Trust and Creative New Zealand, as well as private donations. The public programme has been produced in partnership with CoCA.

Edith Amituanai is of Samoan descent. She was born in 1980 in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2005 she completed a Bachelor of Design (majoring in photography) at Unitec Institute of Technology, before completing a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland in 2009. From the early 2000s, she has photographed domestic spaces in New Zealand, Samoa and in more far­ flung places, tracing Samoan communities in diaspora and examining new migratory patterns, for example the expatriate New Zealand Samoan rugby players in Montpellier, France, and Parma, Northern Italy, and resettled refugees from Myanmar in West Auckland. She has recently embedded herself in her local community of Ranui in West Auckland, documenting social and sporting events and engaging her subjects in the streets and open spaces of her neighbourhood. In 2007, Amituanai was the first recipient of the Art Foundation's Marti Friendlander Photographic Award. The following year she was nominated for the Walters Prize at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. Amituanai undertook the Taipei Artist Village Residency in 2014 and was the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Hastings City Art Gallery in 2017. She has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums across Aotearoa and internationally in Australia, Austria, Taiwan, Germany and France. Her artwork is held in national collections including Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Amituanai is represented by Anna Miles Gallery, Auckland.

Ane Tonga is an artist, curator and writer currently based in Auckland. As a curator, Tonga has undertaken curatorial roles at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dowse Art Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and was formerly the Lead Exhibition Curator at Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa. She was the Judge of the 2016 Miles Art Awards at Tauranga Art Gallery and Judge of the 2017 Estuary Art and Ecology Prize at Malcolm Smith Gallery. Tonga has also written for numerous art publications and catalogues on artists which include Janet Lilo, Fiona Pardington, Lonnie Hutchinson, Amie Siegel, The Pacific Sisters and recently published the monograph, Te Ringo Rehe - The Legacy of Emily Schuster.