City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Sione Tuívailala Monū: Stories

6 May–3 September 2023

Stories draws together Sione Tuívailala Monū’s moving-image work alongside their work with nimamea'a tuikakala, the Tongan fine art of flower design.

Shot on their iPhone, Monū’s videos were made for their Instagram profile, migrating later to Instagram’s Stories feature. They date from 2015 to the present day. Monū often stars in these scenes, which are staged at home, work, malls, family functions, laundromats and parks between Tāmaki-Makaurau, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. While they might appear whimsical and ad-lib, Monū’s films speak to the conditions of living in diaspora, representing these experiences as lived, intimate and impossible to directly translate. Monū’s nimamea'a tuikakala extend their films’ ideas of mobility and adaptation. Nimamea'a tuikakala are traditionally made from real tropical flowers which don’t grow well in Aotearoa, so, following their aunties’ methods, Monū employs bright plastic flowers sourced from two-dollar shops in suburban Tāmaki Makaurau. Their films and floating ‘Ao Kakala embody the vibrancy and contradictions inherent to diasporic life.

Stories also features a programme of international-artist screenings by Meriem Bennani (Morocco/US), Martine Syms (US) and Amalia Ulman (Argentina). Like Monū, their ideas and techniques stem from the layered and ephemeral visual languages of digital technologies, which inform their own stories about fragmented identities in a globalised world. Together, the practices in Stories find a steady footing in the shifting spheres of the internet age, where multiplicity is rife and grand-narratives are now swamped. They are empowered by the customisable forms of communication which we live amongst, presenting viewpoints which are sovereign, networked and fluid.