City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Sui Faiga ae Tumau Fa’avae

10 August–7 October 2012

CURATOR Reuben Friend ARTISTS Tuigamala Andy Tauafiafi, Israel Jaco 'J' Augustine Schmidt, Bryan 'Juse One' Visala

In Samoan culture, the discovery of tatau (tattooing) is commonly associated with the story of Taema and Tilafaiga, two sisters who travelled to Fiji and returned reciting a song instructing only women of high social status to be tattooed. At some stage, the song changed, instructing men of rank to be tattooed. Subsequently, the male pe’a and female malu (tattoos of the legs and torso) became markers of prestige and status. Tatau artists are revered as tufuga tatatau (master tattooists). Today, a new generation of artists are developing new modes of tatau that cater to the needs and desires of migrant and urbanised Pacific communities.

The artists in Sui Faiga ae Tumau Fa’avae work in a shared space on the corner of Dixon and Victoria Street, in Wellington. One group, Taupou Tatau, specialises in contemporary Pacific tatau, design, and graffiti art. The other, Killa Kutz, is a barber crew who specialise in urban Pacific hair styling. The artists perform tatau and hair-styling demonstrations daily. The show's title expressed the hope that contemporary approaches can uphold tradition while responding to the realities of urban life.