Raymond Sagapolutele, Ufitia Sagapolutele, Lyncia Muller, Natalia Ioane, Jeremiah Tauamiti and Samson Rambo, New Zealand
“Tofa Si O’u Tina – Farewell to my Mother” Artists visit and dance performance during the Museum Embankment Festival 2019
At the end of the exhibition "GREY IS THE NEW PINK. Moments of Ageing", the Weltkulturen Museum hosted Samoan artist Raymond Sagapolutele from New Zealand, his sister Ufitia, the dancers Lyncia Muller and Natalia Ioane and the filmmakers Jeremiah Tauamiti and Samson Rambo. During the Museum Embankment Festival on Sunday, 25 August 2019, they staged the art performance "Tofa Si O'u Tina - Farewell to my mother" in the exhibition hall of the museum.
The artworks and their story: “Siva Samoa” and “Poly Swag”
Raymond Sagapolutele’s photographic works “Siva Samoa” and “Poly Swag” were on display at the Weltkulturen Museum in the exhibition “GREY IS THE NEW PINK – Moments of ageing” (25 October until 1 September 2019). They depict his mother Ruta Sagapolutele and his sister Ufitia Sagapolutele dancing. The photographic works reflect the differences between traditional Samoan dance and contemporary urban dance culture in the Samoan diaspora in New Zealand: While the mother presents the traditional form of the dance, in “Poly Swag” her daughter Ufitia also includes modern dance elements borrowed from hip-hop. The images thus document the transmission of knowledge within the family, while at the same time highlighting the freedom of cultural interpretation of the new generation.
Moreover, the photographic works gained an even stronger personal meaning for the artist and his family after Ruta Sagapolutele passed away three months after the completion of the images. The works can thus be understood as homage to the artist’s mother as well.
“We do not fear ageing. We consider our elders a source of knowledge and custom and a vital connection to our ancestors and our traditions”
Raymond Sagapolutele, 2018
Preceding the Museum Embankment Festival, on Wednesday, 21 August, Ufitia Sagapolutele, Lyncia Muller und Natalia Ioane staged a workshop on traditional and contemporary forms of Samoan dance. In the workshop participants had the opportunity to get an introduction to the basics of the Samoan dance Siva.
During an artists talk at the Museum Embankment Festival in the exhibition on Saturday, 24 August 2019, New Zealand-Samoan visual artist Raymond Sagapolutele offered an insight into his creative process and explained the personal significance of his works “Siva Samoa” and “Poly Swag” for him and his family. Afterwards he and Matthias Claudius Hofmann (curator Oceania) presented objects from the Oceania collection in the exhibition.
Finally, as a special highlight of the Museum Embankment Festival in the Weltkulturen Museum, Raymond and Ufitia Sagapolutele as well as Lyncia Muller und Natalia Ioane presented the dance performance „Tofa Si O’u Tina – Farewell to my Mother“ on Sunday afternoon. Ufitia choreographed a traditional “Siva Samoa” which she had combined with elements of contemporary dance and thus enhanced the dance to a new modernized form.
The brother´s photographic works became performance art through the sister´s dance. The mother´s legacy was picked up and advanced artistically by her children. The performance also expressed respect for the ancestors and addressed the struggle for cultural identity as Pacific islander in the diaspora.
“For me, this project is a completion of a cycle that started with the Siva Samoa of my mother and that now ends with the dance performance of my sister as homage to my mother and our common cultural heritage by means of Ufitia´s advancement of our mother´s dance into a contemporary Siva Samoa form.”
Raymond Sagapolutele, 2019
Documentary Movie and other cultural events
The two filmmakers Jerry Tauamiti and Samson Rambo accompanied the photo artist and the dancers with the camera during their stay. They recorded the public events as well as other cultural events for a planned documentary film about Raymond Sagapolutele. This included, for example, a public tour of the neighboring film museum.
The group also made an extensive visit to the Oceania collection in the storage facilities of the Weltkulturen Museum. The guests mainly grew up in New Zealand while most of their families have a Samoan background. Due to the strong connection with the Samoan culture, there was a desire to examine the historical collections from Samoa, which date back to around 1900.
The more recent Samoa collection of everyday objects and contemporary art, which was collected in situ by former employee of the Museum Gerda Kroeber Wolf in 1997 in preparation of the first Samoa exhibition in Germany ("Talofa! Samoa, Südsee. Ansichten und Einsichten", 1998), were also met with great interest.
Before their departure from Germany, Raymond Sagapolutele donated his photographic works from the exhibition GREY IS THE NEW PINK "Siva Samoa" and "Poly Swag" to the Weltkulturen Museum. We are very pleased to add these wonderful artpieces to our collection of contemporary art from Oceania.
Participating artists, dancers and filmakers
RAYMOND SAGAPOLUTELE is a New Zealand born Samoan artist and photographer and member of the graffiti collective TMD. He lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.
UFITIA 'TIA' SAGAPOLUTELE is a dancer, choreographer and producer with a hip-hop background. She currently works as project coordinator for Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ).
LYNCIA MULLER is a dancer with a strong focus on traditional Pacific dance, hip-hop and contemporary dance.
NATALIA IOANE is a dancer with a focus on traditional Samoan dance like Siva Samoa, Taualuga und Sasa.
JEREMIAH TAUAMITI, based in Auckland, New Zealand, Jerry is a Filmmaker, freelance film and TV director and co-founder of Malosi Pictures.
SAMSON RAMBO is a young aspiring Filmmaker from South Auckland, New Zealand.