Cover image of the review
Unbound Collective (Ali Gumillya Baker, Faye Rosas Blanch, Natalie Harkin, Simone Ulalka Tur), PERMEATE / mapping skin and tides of saturated resistance, 2023, dimensions vary, installation view at TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi fa’ava’asavili. Photo: Andrew Curtis

TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili

10 Jun 2023
TarraWarra Museum of Art 1 Apr - 16 Jul 2023

As I stand in the centre of the ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, I notice that my breath and heartbeat are in tune with the sounds and echoes of the room. I can hear the faint greh greh (grunt) and groh groh (deeper groaning sound) of Leyla Steven’s video, the electrical hum of Elyas Alavi’s neon creations, and the rhythmic sighs of Sancintya Mohini Simpson’s clay lotas. The whispers and gentle footsteps of other visitors remind me of our connected role in community and kin. The museum vibrates with tension and grace. The space feels charged: like a resting place for collective and vast Oceanic ancestral memories. As a kindred viewer, I am not only struck by the heaviness of the works but also by the weight of piri’anga (connection / relationship / intimate). Mana (spiritual lifeforce of Oceania) is here, and she is grounding.

Framed by the alagā‘upu (Sāmoan proverb) translating to “the canoe obeys the wind”, ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili archives a small piece of the Majority World’s cultural rebirth, igniting Indigenous memory through language, movement, and energetic pulse to channel and look to our matriarchs. Championing fifteen new commissions alongside an extensive program of artist talks and performances, ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili reflects the rigorousness of these artistic and curatorial practices and the endless conversations they generate.

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