Project shares 'underrepresented' identity

Pati Solomona Tyrell (25) at his Fringe exhibition Fagogo. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Pati Solomona Tyrell (25) at his Fringe exhibition Fagogo. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
A queer Pacific art movement has made its way to Dunedin to occupy gallery space during the Fringe.

Auckland-based artist Pati Solomona Tyrell's Fagogo project is being exhibited in both the Blue Oyster Art Project Space and Dunedin Public Art Gallery Rear Window.

Tyrell said part of the exhibition used portrait photography to "share an identity which was underrepresented in life and the media".

"Fagogo is the Samoan word for fable and so I've taken this idea of taking stories of my community, which includes my family, my friends and then our wider Pacific queer community."

The exhibition centred on a film, which was being played at the public gallery, about Pacific queer people in the diaspora "trying to connect with their cultural practices".

"A lot of the work is exploring gender and sexuality," he said.

Tyrell co-founded South Auckland-based art collective FAFSWAG with his partner Tanu Gago in 2015. It now has 13 members.

The collective was a "queer, Pacific group of unapologetic young artists", he said.

"We just really want to make stuff and don't want to be pigeonholed by one medium."

The group has been gaining traction in New Zealand's art scene and beyond, including a Vice documentary which was made about the movement, and coverage in The Guardian.

They have also recently launched their own interactive documentary.

Colonisation led to a loss of knowledge of cultural history, he said.

"I wanted to create this story where we reconnect those queer identities back to indigenous knowledge even if it's reimagining it and bringing it back to the present.

"For me to see myself standing strong is to have access to my indigenous knowledge."

• The exhibition opens today and runs until April 14. There is a performance at noon on Saturday and an artist's talk at noon on Sunday. 


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