Legacies is a collection of five new works for cinema by artists Edith Amituanai, Martin Sagadin, Ukrit Sa-nguanhai (CREAM PhD researcher), Pati Tyrell, and Sriwhana Spong. Each artist responded to a series of propositions by Professor May Adadol Ingawanij, who is the 2022 curator-at-large for CIRCUIT Artist Moving Image Aotearoa New Zealand:
“What does a legacy taste, smell, sound, feel, or look like? What do we do with the legacies that make us? How do they hold us back? How do we go forward with the full force of the past? What stories do I tell my son? That we all have a place in the world through the legacies we were born into that we haven’t chosen? Some of them we’ll learn to inhabit and to pass on, others we’ll learn to let go of. Legacies are things that we carry with our bodies, sometimes with pride and sometimes with shame, our emotional textures and our baggage, the basis of social bonding, an ancestral land, an enduring pain, a burden, some kind of ghost, an invitation into futurist kinship, stories for future making.”
The five artists selected by Professor Ingawanij were chosen following a period of long-distance research in partnership with CIRCUIT. Several of the artists chosen maintain an inter-disciplinary practice based between the gallery, cinema and mixed media.
The five cinematic responses to Legacies include:
Edith Amituanai, Epifania (2022)
A portrait of an inspiring young Pasifika matriarch raising her family; Epifania, the rose that grew from concrete.
Martin Sagadin, Garden of Clay (2022)
An affirmation of artistic process as a circular gesture, one that starts with gifting the earth.
Sriwhana Spong, And the creeper keeps on reaching for the flame tree (2022)
This film animates the insects found in the last painting by the artist’s grandfather, the Balinese painter I Gusti Made Rundu. The swarm imagines ancestry not as linear succession but as an accumulation of energy “charged with potentiality.”
Ukrit Sa-nguanhai, Trip After (2022)
A travel vlog mapping mobile cinema screenings in Northeast (Isan) Thailand during the 1960s. The films were presented by the United States Information Service as a form of propaganda.
Pati Tyrell, Tulouna le Lagi (2022)
A visual interpretation of alagaupu (proverbs) used within Samoan funeral chants and speeches, utilizing imagery from the artist’s personal photographic archive.
Professor Ingawanij has worked with CIRCUIT since 2012, participating in screenings and symposia. The development of Legacies has been a very personal project for her, taking place during a time of pandemic and political upheaval in both her adopted home of the UK and her family home of Thailand:
“For me, as someone living in a country self-destructing with post-imperial melancholy while still attached to another country and region whose promise of anti-colonial liberation is still unmet, the word legacies always call to mind the big shadows cast by political extremism and the flickering lights from so many mobile phones held by a multiplicity of people who gather, disband, and gather again to hold the ground of resurgent democratisation movements.”
Legacies is accompanied by the Legacies Reader, a new publication edited by New Zealand novelist and art critic Thomasin Sleigh. The Legacies Reader features fiction and essays from Huni Mancini and Tina Makareti; visual and text contributions from the artists, plus a curatorial essay in the style of oral tale by Professor Ingawanij.
The exhibition at Artspace Aotearoa runs until 22 October, after which Legacies will tour to other New Zealand and international venues.
CIRCUIT is a New Zealand arts agency that supports New Zealand artists working in the moving image. Its curator-at-large programme is an annual appointment that seeks to open networks for New Zealand artists and promote cultural exchange through the international mobility of cinema.