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Events & Exhibitions

New Lightboxes Unveiled

Visual Arts
image Tamara Sukuri
image John Vea

Have you checked out the new lightbox installations in the city yet? If not, get to Te Pae quickly!

Works by artists John Vea, Tamara Sikuri and Lee Richardson are now on view outside Te Pae Convention Centre.

John Vea’s work is titled:

Finish this week off and that’s it! (2014)

John Vea’s practice regularly takes the form of durational performance, using endurance and repetition to investigate the often invisible conditions of labour affecting many migrant workers.

Finish this week off and that’s it! (2014), is a multi-channel video work, each section filmed a week apart over a five-week period, during which Vea ate below the poverty line, observing how this imposed diet affected his body and strength.

Vea picks up a large rock and attempts to hold it for as long as he can. His manipulation of a large, heavy object evokes the futility of such an act embodied in the ancient Greek fable of Sisyphus, who is condemned for eternity to push a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down once he reaches the top.

The struggle for Vea to keep hold of the rock becomes analogous to the precarious circumstances of living on a minimum wage and the effect poverty can have on the physical and mental wellbeing of those employed in manual labour.

Through the framing of a gruelling task as performance, he makes visible the physical toll taken upon a labour force of Moana Nui a Kiwa bodies that is often unrecognised in mainstream New Zealand society.

John Vea works with sculpture, video and performance art to explore narratives surrounding Moana Nui a Kiwa (Pacific) migration, labour and employment. He draws attention to the often mundane and strenuous physical labour undertaken by communities that make a vital contribution, particularly to the agriculture and construction industries, but which can largely go unacknowledged. Vea employs talanoa, a term used by many Moana Nui a Kiwa communities that refers to a conversational, personal encounter where people share ideas, stories and experiences. Talanoa privileges the face-to-face conversation over other methods of communication, such as phone, email or third-party exchanges.

Vea uses talanoa to translate the experiences of others into art works that can communicate these stories to an outside audience. Before moving here to Ōtautahi, John was a lecturer at Auckland University of Technology teaching undergraduate papers in the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies – School of Art and Design. In 2021 John completed his practice led Ph.D. also at Auckland University of Technology.

On the reverse side of the lightbox is a work – Turo’  –  by Tamara Sukuri.

Sculpture artist, Tamara Sikuri created Turo’ after finding that between the years 2007 and 2020, there were only 13 Pasifika graduates from Canterbury University School of Fine Arts.

Sikuri performs a li’fu ag’äk, moving across a concrete bridge at the art school on her knees. Li’fu ag’äk – a respectful and humble position to take in her Rotuman cultural context – is significant core value across Pasifika cultures, honouring the work done by previous generations and their efforts towards progress for current and future generations.

The act itself, of crossing a concrete surface on her knees, confronts the viewer with the strain, pain and difficulty in the performance; challenging viewers to consider issues that arise from a lack of representation.

Throughout the performance Sikuri repeats the word “turo’”, which also has cultural ties with other Pasifika languages having their own word to relay the same level of respect. Performing the li’fu ag’äk while repeating “turo’ turo’ turo’”, across this specific site may begin to bridge a gap between art institutions and Pasifika peoples.

The film was recently exhibited at the Fibre Gallery for the show Hanuj ‘Ḁkia The Voice That Was Silenced, a solo exhibition by the artist.

Tamara Sikuri is ethnically Rotuman and was born in Fiji, arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand with her kaunohoga/whānau in 2015. She currently teaches at Christchurch Adventist School, and is passionate about working with tamariki and rangatahi to create safe spaces for them to grow and flourish. As an artist, she works predominately in sculpture with a heavy focus on community collaboration. Working alongside her Rotuman and Pasifika communities to create performance based film works and installations to address issues they face as they try to assimilate and transition into life here in New Zealand. She studied at The School of Fine Arts, Ilam, where she was awarded one of the three Select awards in 2022. Following that, in 2023, she was awarded the Kupe scholarship to pursue teaching and her dream of empowering the next generation of creative minds.

The third work is by Lee Richardson and is titled:

Best Copies

Growing up, Richardson says that he has “fond memories of visiting my  grandparents in Māwhera Greymouth and hanging  out with my grandad John at James Print where he  was a typesetter working on the linotype machine,  and then in his later years on the computer. He  would print local newspapers amongst other things,  and this is where my interest in type and offset print  comes from. I still enjoy visiting James Print to see  the press printing the Greymouth Evening Star.”

Best Copies is a research project that Richardson started in  2017, which has evolved into the development of a  typeface based on source material from scanned  Christchurch Press microfilm.

These six lightboxes feature details from articles and photos printed in the Christchurch Press about the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games.

“In the creation of my typeface, I have scanned and  enlarged each letter of the alphabet a number of times. Once enlarged, small variations can be  seen across the same letter form. This typeface is intended to have images that connect to, or complement, the type forms and allow the  ‘typesetter’ to pick from the different versions of  each letter.”

Presented on lightboxes, these examples of the Best Copies typeset can be understood as  larger-than-life microfilm frames. The Best Copies  typeset is an attempt to create both a localised and  democratised visual language and will be available  soon at your closest library to be scanned and used  as you see fit.

See bestcopies.co.nz for more details.

Lee Richardson is a graphic designer from Waihōpai  Invercargill currently based in Amsterdam. He  graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

Since graduating, Richardson has been lecturing at the Ilam School of Fine Arts in the Graphic Design Department, and in the Product Design faculty.

He was one of the founding members of  Hot Lunch artist-run project in Ōtautahi with the major publishing project Leftovers. Most  recently he has been a participant in the Southland  Institute 1:1 program in Los Angeles and presented at the Stand-in School for Graphic Design in Berlin.

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