Artist Angela Tiatia Holds On in Tuvalu’s Tides
Auckland-born, Sydney-based artist Angela Tiatia, who was a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize, is a person of movement, of restless tides. Her solo show, Holding On, is exhibited at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre in Victoria until 11 November.
Of Samoan and New Zealand-Australian background, Tiatia has wrestled with notions of representation and neo-colonialism, working across a range of disciplines. Her Archibald-nominated painting, Study for a self-portrait upends not only the male, European gaze but also the treatment of women of colour as the exotic other, most pertinently by Paul Gauguin.
Tiatia – a former model, who has criticised the tokenistic use of diversity in the industry, is often present, bodily, in her work. “I am the most immediate resource on hand,” she says. “Also, it’s the ultimate control – knowing my wants and needs in the work. And by using myself there’s no layer of translation where ideas can be lost or compromised.”
In Holding On (2015) a video work filmed on Tuvalu, a vulnerable South Pacific island which is on average, less than two metres above sea level, Tiatia couldn’t ask anybody else to put their body on the line. In it, she lies on a concrete slab, in the wake of an incoming tide.
“I filmed this every evening close to sunset 10 days in a row until I got the perfect shot. It was a very physically demanding work that involved being scraped and pushed around – as well as swallowing water and having it go into your eyes and nose at the same time. I could not have asked someone else to do this. No one would do it.”
“I underestimate the strength of the incoming tide, there is a struggle to hold on to the sides of the concrete so as not to be washed off.”
Original article by Varia Karipoff, Art Guide Australia, September 20, 2018.