We welcome Sione Faletau (Tonga) as the second Artist in Residence of our site’s rotating gallery. Sione has made a new work for Te Tauranga / The Landing / Le Taulaga, VĀ – TUPU (2021).
Sione has used ‘VĀ’ to create kupesi (patterns) that both connect and separate through their movement. The word vā is significant to Sione and other Moana people. As vā is the space between things, it also has a relational aspect: teu le vā or tāuhi vā is to take care of or maintain and nurture relationships. The lettering of VĀ is spaced and repeated, referencing the patterning in ngatu (tapa cloth) and lalava (lashings). Kula (red) and uli (black) are prominent in Tongan arts: the kupesi on lalava use red and black coconut sennit rope, while those on ngatu use red and black ink. The work is titled VĀ – TUPU. Tupu means to grow, increase, originate, develop or come into existence. With the motion of the lettering, kupesi self-generate: the vā is a space of growth.
Sione Faletau is a multidisciplinary artist born in Auckland with Tongan heritage — he has links to the villages of Taunga, Vava’u and Lakepa, Tongatapu. Utilising art as a vehicle to explore his Tongan heritage led him to do his Doctoral research on Tongan masculinity from an Indigenous perspective. As of late, his interest has been in creating kupesi (patterns) from extracted audio waveforms from songs, audio recordings and field recordings of environments. The audio waveforms give him a material that can be manipulated into kupesi. This innovative way of creating has opened a new language and a different way of seeing kupesi in the contemporary realm.
VĀ – TUPU will be on Te Tauranga / The Landing / Le Taulaga from September 7 – December 4.