Te Pu o Te Wheke

First exhibited at the Hawai’i Triennial in 2022, Te Pu o Te Wheke honours the Pacific Sisters’ long-standing and ongoing explorations to amplify Pacific bodies, stories, gender fluidity, garments, and expressions. The installation comprises eight full-body portraits produced in close collaboration with photographer Pati Tyrell. Each image, presented as a lightbox and activated through augmented reality co-developed with iSPARX, depicts a niu aitu (ancestor) and addresses the foundational question, ‘Who are you?’ Audiences can use the AR (augmented reality) application to bring the aitu to life through sound and animation; please scan the QR code to activate the Pacific Sisters app.

Te Pu o Te Wheke responds to this season’s theme of Sweat Equity, which explores the effects of labour and capital on the body, through the transformative and self-determining nature of ritual and adornment. The Pacific Sisters create their identities through attire which blends traditional methods and materials with contemporary creative approaches.

Each of the Sisters has chosen a niu aitu to embody; collectively, the group represents those things not lost to colonisation, values and passions of the Sisters and other Pacific peoples. Among the niu aitu are Taulāitu (Taulā o le Aitu) a spirit medium who guides and holds the collective mauli (soul) that exists within and between this world and the next; Tū Irarere Te TūPuna the upholder of gender-fluid ancestral space; Mapu Malie, who champions mutual respect between humans and all other creatures as kaitiaki of their respective domains; and Ngā Roimata Auhi a Mārie, The Anguished Tears of Peace, who mourns for a world torn apart by conflict and loss.

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