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By Chris Ulutupu for SCAPE Public Art Season 2018

Image courtesy of the artist and Millers O’Brien Gallery, Wellington.

Christopher Ulutupu’s video/performance art practice explores ongoing themes around landscape, photography, and the construction of colonial narratives. Responding to early 1900’s landscape photography and ‘postcard’ tourism, his earlier work has looked at depictions of Pacific brown people, disseminated throughout the western world: images of Pacific people sitting under coconut trees made available for European consumption. His practice seeks to re-contextualise these stereotypes and re-imagine them through video and performance, offering new ways of exploring the effects of colonisation and diaspora.  

 In Lelia, and Fitu (Seven), the artists second work for the SCAPE Season 2018, Ulutupu continues to stage performances within ‘picturesque’ landscapes, this time in an alpine resort scenario, taking inspiration in part from an ELLE Magazine article about a winter Vogue Issue 1977 photoshoot, where a group of photographers and models travelled to a ski resort at the border of Argentina and Chile. Due to a storm they were snowed in and forced to stay there for eight days. They continued the shoot at the ski lodge, which goes on to become one of the most successful issues at the time. That photoshoot became even more absurd when the Chilean government refused to let the Americans leave. The US Embassy, in collaboration with the Argentinean government, planned a Bond-esque escape plan, involving all the models and photographers skiing down the storm-ridden slopes to catch their helicopter, escaping the clutches of the Chilean security guards left to monitor them - whilst wearing all the furs and jewellery that had been supplied by the designers.  Fitu (Seven) and Lelia respond to themes of decadence within tourism, and a story worthy of a cinematic experience.  

 The video work Lelia, shot in the Mt Lyford area, is the final part of a trilogy that seeks to explore a development of the artist’s relationship with ‘My Coloniser’. From courtship and desire explored in Into the Arms of My Coloniser (2016) to dissonance and miscommunication played out in Do you Still Need Me? (2017), the new work explores an acknowledgement of this relationship, a declaration that the indigene – coloniser relationship is a lifetime commitment, a marriage of sorts.

Times and dates to view the video works:
Opening Weekend Public Talks
Sunday 7 October
1:40pm – 1:50pm
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Screening outside Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA)
Every Tuesday – Sunday during the Season
10:00am – 5:00pm
CoCA forecourt, exterior screen



Chris Ulutupu

Christopher Ulutupu is a video artist of Samoan/Niuean/German descent currently residing in Wellington. He recently completed his MFA at Massey University, Wellington and has a Bachelor of Performance Design (Hons) from Massey University and Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. Ulutupu has a background in art direction and set design. Creating videos, performances and collages that challenge current understanding of institutions, media, pop culture, racism, terrorism and tourism, and how these spheres interrelate. Ulutupu mounted a solo exhibition at play_station, Wellington in 2018 and participated in the inaugural Hobart Biennale in 2017.