'Gāpatia i Fa’anoanoaga': An Art Installation Reflecting on Burden and Loss Through a Migrant Experience
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Gāpatia i Fa’anoanoaga is a general Samoan expression which literally means ‘burden with sadness’, which encompasses all aspects of loss and grief in relation to the burden of obligation to reciprocity. This project has functioned as lightening the load of the burden of grief and loss through the process of making an art installation exploring a migrant Samoan experience. My project is concerned with the exploration of Samoan matters of cultural significance such as heritage, religion, identity and family, in particular those customs pertaining to deaths and funerals. The mores and values implicit in these reflect the fundamental aspects of obligation and reciprocity in Samoan life and society. As a Samoan-born and New Zealand raised woman, my work and explorations tended to engage with the challenges of disrupting boundaries formed around ideas of cultural appropriation and cultural authenticity. Therefore this project investigates my position as a migrant Samoan living in New Zealand exploring notions of mobility and globalisation and the effects on the obligation to reciprocity through practical art means. Importantly my art practice intends to explore and position the installation of contemporary materials to speak metaphorically about my identity and issues significant to the obligation to reciprocity in the fa’aSamoa (the Samoan way or in the manner of the Samoans; according to Samoan customs and traditions) particularly the concept tautua aiga (tautua means functions or any service performed in order to support aiga or family) Conceptually my work addresses and brings forth for consideration the impact of mobility and globalisation on cultural issues and practices. Through engagement with contemporary materials and processes my work reflects a kind of ‘story-telling’, which in this instance is a lament for those who have passed on and for a way of life that is in flux.