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Good Hair Day: Exhibition pays homage to iconic ethnic social movements

Merewai Durutalo

The Good Hair Day Group Exhibition curated by Luisa Tora is open to the public at the Tautai Pacific Arts Trust Gallery

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The Good Hair Day Group Exhibition curated by multi-disciplinary artist, activist and writer Luisa Tora is open to the public at the Tautai Pacific Arts Trust Gallery.

The exhibition opened on August 4 and runs until September 23.

Tautai’s website says the artists under this exhibition highlight the principles shared by the late I-Kiribati and African-American scholar, poet, activist, and mentor, Dr Teresia Teaiwa.

Teaiwa urged indigenous cultures to “build our own archives” to store and share unique stories and perspectives.

Concepts in the exhibition alternate between photography, embroidery, illustration, and sculpture.

The exhibition pays homage to iconic ethnic social movements that have now become influential parts of popular culture.

The premiere of the Polynesian Panthers TV series and Solange Knowles ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ have been iconic moments for mainstream representation and cultural expression, celebrating the sacredness of majestic curly crowns.

The exhibition had opened with blue paint - in the shape of a tidal line across a black wall - trailing behind artist Nââwié Tutugoro.

Kanaky artist Nââwié Tutugoro with blue paint in her curly crown, painting a tidal line across the Tautai Gallery wall between two images, one of her Kanaky father and the other of herself. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

Tutugoro’s live performance was titled ‘dream come true’.

“The story behind ‘dream come true’ is commemorating my hair inherited from my Kanaky heritage. The activation of drawing the connection, or, in this case, painting the tidal line, between the passport photo of my father and a school portrait of me.”

“There was a time when dad had hair and a time before I started to straighten my hair and assimilate,” Tutugoro says.

The Kanaky/Anglo-Argentinean European artist wanted to be fully engaged in her art by including her majestic crown of curls as the main focal point of her live performance.

“I was interested in becoming part of the artwork in a deeper way. It began with painting my hair, to painting with my hair,” Tutugoro says.

The Kanaky artist is one of five in the GHD Group Exhibition.

Hair blong me 1, 2, and 3 by artist Peter Wing Seeto. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

Artists also showcasing are Peter Wing Seeto (Ni-Vanuatu), Karlin Morrison Raju (Fijian-Indian/Irish), Bai Buliruarua (i-Taukei - indigenous Fijian), and Māori artist Māia Piata Rose Week (Rangitāne and Ngati Kahungunu).

From left - Good Hair Day Exhibition Curator - Luisa Tora, Karlin Morrison Raju, Bai Buliruarua, Māia Piata Rose Week and Peter Wing Seeto. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

For i-Taukei artist Buliruarua, his artwork titled ‘For My Mama And Anyone Who Looks Like Her’ was inspired by the women who have made a huge impact on his life.

“When we were discussing the actual show itself, we were talking about how we came to love our hair and begin to accept ourselves in the way our crowns naturally grow,” Buliruarua says.

I-Taukei artist Bai Buliruarua's artwork ‘For My Mama And Anyone Who Looks Like Her’ was inspired by the women who have made a huge impact on his life. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

Buliruarua shared that his artwork was a personal piece regarding his life journey toward being comfortable in his own skin.

“For me, when I was thinking about it, all of the people who helped me come to terms with it and feel comfortable in my skin were the women in my life.”

Buliruarua’s artwork consisted of digitally illustrated portraits of i-Taukei women ranging from historical to modern hairstyles displayed across the art gallery wall.

The i-Taukei artist’s main intention is for people to feel a sense of connection to his art.

“If people feel connected to the work, I think it’s such an honour to have people see something you’ve created and feel any kind of connection to it.

“No matter how people sort of receive it, it’s just an honour to have it received by people.”

A brief description of the artists and their artwork has been provided online through the Tautai Pacific Arts Trust Gallery.

Hair Mask by Māia Piata Rose Week: The artist drew on aspects of identity and self empowerment through her upbringing here in Aotearoa.

She uses digital illustrations of hair from a Māori cultural lens on different-sized and-shaped mirrors. This is to challenge pre-conceived notions of what it is to be Māori.

Corrugated by artist Karlin Morrison Raju depicts personal experiences and barriers regarding hair identity with the use of exaggerated industrial materials. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

Corrugated by Karlin Morrison Raju: A Drum Barrel in oxidised red concrete.

These barrels are used in Fijian villages to hold water for multiple uses, including the outdoor washing of hair.

Hair blong me 1, 2, and 3 by Peter Wing Seeto: The Ni-Vanuatu queer multi-disciplinary artist uses analog/film photography as their preferred mediums.

Good Hair Day has helped shape Seeto’s personal medium of expression in their art.

Hero image: Hair Mask by artist Māia Piata Rose Week casts vibrant shadows on the Tautai Gallery floor. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

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