Samoan artist in solo art exhibition

By Ivamere Nataro, 21 May 2019

Edith Amituana'i has become the first woman of Samoan and Pasifika descent to host a solo exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand.

The New Zealand-based artist’s Double Take show of large format, colour photography tells a story of her heavily migrant community of West Auckland, from family, friends, local school students or church goers.

According to Radio New Zealand (R.N.Z.), Edith Amituana'i's work documents a contemporary Pacific world with a nod to the symbols and references of classical art.

R.N.Z. reports Adam Art Gallery's Director Tina Barton said showing the survey of Edith’s work allows for a better understanding of her contribution to contemporary New Zealand art.

"The more I delved into what she's doing right now, the more I realised how importantly she was documenting and engaging with communities that she lives with who I think point us in the direction of where New Zealand is heading as a society."

Tina started following Edith's work on Instagram, and coming to prominence in the early 2000's, Edith offered an insight into the custom and nuance of migrant life. 

"2003 or 2004 is when I had my first institutional show and it's interesting when something strikes a chord outside of yourself. Yeah, so I was surprised to see that institutions were interested in what I was doing," Edith said. 

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Edith was the inaugural Marti Friedlander Photography Award winner in 2007, reported R.N.Z.

She also considers other followers despite her work having a very personal nature. 

 "You think about yourself and you think about an audience. There are artists who make the work for themselves and it's a very personal thing but I was always aware that I wanted to make it for an audience because I felt like there wasn't enough of what I thought was really interesting around, so I thought, oh yep, I'm going to put it out there for people to see."

R.N.Z reported that curator of Double Take, Ane Tonga said they've harnessed this following to help promote the show.

  "We don't want to just put another press release out'. Why don't you Edith, we have a different approach, why don't you create the promotional video as you've done for little samplers in the past which was a really different approach. We shared that and it's boosted Adam Art Gallery's social media presence.

"She was the only photographer of Samoan descent and the only one that was present in the important books of photography, so Contemporary Photography by Lara Strongman which is one of the bibles. It was revelation and a real insight because it was someone who was telling those narratives that were familiar to me."

When approached by Tina to curate the show, Ane Tonga said she already had a strong idea of the themes it should follow.

Edith Amituana'i's show Double Take is on show at the Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University until mid-July.

A major publication of the artist's work is being launched to coincide with the exhibition.

By Ivamere Nataro, 21 May 2019

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