Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds is a solo exhibition by South Auckland-based video installation artist, Leilani Kake, curated by Ema Tavola for Auckland Arts Festival 2011.
The exhibition runs from 4 March – 16 April 2011 at Fresh Gallery Otara, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand.
Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds is a celebration of the immortal female spirit embodied. My work is influenced by highly personal stories dealing with issues of identity and culture, tradition and change. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds invites the viewer into a space of reflection about the Pacific female body.
Pacific Island and Māori women have the highest cases of female diseases such as breast and cervical cancer as well as heart disease. All preventable if detected early. Māori women have the leading rates of smoking and New Zealand’s teen pregnancy numbers continue to rise.
Loving our whanau starts with loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves; physically, mentally and spiritually. We as women of the Pacific need to engage in discourse that will lower these health risk statistics and educate all our whanau.
Water, Women and the Moon
Fresh Gallery Otara is a community gallery in the Otara Town Centre, frequented by children, students, artists and the elderly. It has a mandate to reflect life in Otara, to engage audiences and stimulate discussion.
Leilani Kake is a member of the Otara community; an educator, mother, artist – a staunch ambassador for the Southside. Armed with strong cultural foundations and a firm foothold in a South Auckland / South Pacific reality, her four-channel video installation bravely confronts the cultural taboo of nudity. Whilst mass media imagery of women’s bodies floods our visual landscape, public displays of female nudity in a community context has the potential to inspire controversy and discomfort.
Inspired by the disproportionate statistics of preventable cervical and breast cancer amongst Māori and Pacific women, the artist invites viewers to consider the body and how we perceive it. And further, to consider that relationship in relation to our wellbeing as a community.
Enveloped in the watery darkness of this work, we are alone with our thoughts.
The work’s four walls represent four pou, four stages of womanhood. In the watery darkness, the balance between the women, the water and the moon is in constant flux. As viewers, we are the centre of the gaze – confronted and surrounded, fluctuating between comfort and discomfort.
This work delivers the impact typical of Kake’s practice, speaking to the human condition, universal and primitive, and simultaneously to the special cultural context of indigenous women of the Pacific region.
Known for her emotional, performance-based practice referencing ritual and tradition, family and relationships, Kake’s visual language encourages her community to engage with issues affecting them. Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds exposes the inextricable links joining Polynesian femininity to power, religion, sexuality and privacy.
In terms of scale and content, this is the most significant exhibition ever produced for Fresh Gallery Otara. Kake has been part of the Gallery’s community since it opened in 2006. She has been educated and trained in Otara and continues to live and work here. It is perhaps the most appropriate exhibition for us to present in the regional Auckland Arts Festival programme, to represent the site-specific curatorial approach that has been fostered here.
We are hugely grateful for the opportunity to present this exhibition for the Auckland Arts Festival, and for the significant support from Manukau Institute of Technology Department of Creative Arts and Toi o Manukau. The support from my colleagues in Arts and Culture South, Auckland Council, have made this project a reality; thank you so much.
Curator | Fresh Gallery Otara
Pacific Arts Coordinator | Auckland Council South | Auckland Council