|ADAM DOUGLASS||NEW WORK||ABOUT||ARTWORK||COLLABORATIONS||TEXT||CONTACT|
It was marvelous to bend, crawl, climb, and gasp through the labyrinth of bright caves that Adam Douglass, the On the Spot collective, the Seleka Club, and
two hundred volunteers have created at On the Spot's headquarters in central Nuku'alofa called Vataulua. ' Imagine a tropical Lascaux Cave, in which visual
discussions of political and social issues of the twenty-first century, like police violence and religious intolerance, sit alongside the shamanic motifs -
forests, wild beasts, hunters - that ripple across the walls of ancient caves, and you'll have a sense of the power and mystery of Vataulua. My oldest son enjoyed
crawling with a torch to the secret room where the shadows of sharks and whales pursued each other across dim walls. ' Scott Hamilton
In June 2015 I travelled to Tonga to research how a psychedelic model of collaborative painting could be transformed in Tonga .I was fortunate to work with the amazing
team at On the Spot Arts Initiative and all the other fantastic artists who participated. This aesthetic system is dependent on diversity.
Check out the fantastic work that these Tongan Arts Collectives are doing:
Acknowledgements: On the Spot Arts Initiative, Melbourne University, Apco, Alliance Francaise
On the Spot Artspace, late into the evening of the opening, August 4, 2015
Rachel stirring the kava
Entrance to Vataulua
First room of Vataulua
Looking back towards the entrance
Trapdoor to a tunnel that leads to a secret room above
Inside the secret room there are no doors or lights. The audience must have their own torch. Inside the area are a series of marker pens to encourage contributions
The back room
Ebonie Fifita is a multi disciplinary artist and director of On the Spot Arts Initiative. On the Spot is an independent organisation that provide and support
artistic endeavours, facilitate professional events and exhibitions and are dedicated to cultural development in Tonga, making the arts accessible and providing a
platform for all Tongans to influence and contribute to culture. On the Spot produce and support various traditional and contemporary art forms, including
theatre, dance,music, visual art and everything inbetween. They are important to the development of free expression and creativity in Tonga.
Tevita Latu is a prominent Tongan artist and member of Seleka. The first time I had a conversation with Tevita was during a kava session at Seleka. I asked whether it
was protocol to drink the cup of kava I was given in one swig. Tevita replied 'If that's protocol Adam, maybe you should do it in two.' This brief exchange highlights
Tevita's and Seleka's motivation: question, challenge and critique conventions, particularly conventions that are designed to exploit.
The Seleka fale, where kava and painting is a popular pastime time
Photo: Mark Aubort
Seleka artist Tevita Mamani, putting in an epic effort to help complete Vataulua
When Jesus say yes, nobody can say no, when jesus say yes, nobody can say no. I know Jesus loves me. Love Naua
The right hand panels feature one statement above, and a response below.
(above right) Join Tongan Polisi Tamate (Join Tongan Police, Murderers)
I learnt that this may have been painted in relation to this murder: http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/two-tongan-police-jailed-over-new-zealand-cops-death-585793
(below right) Mate Ma'a Tonga ( die for Tonga)
Kihe Lelei Taha (strive for the best)
Ki he Lele (until they flee/run) Ita Ha (angry why)
PINE toko (don't give up, stick it out, carry on brother)
LO2 is text abbreviation for Lotu (prayer, pray or religion, it also resembles LOL)
(left) Naua focused on the location of her panel (right) Steev Maka and Ebonie Fifita hanging out under the whale. Vataulua would not have been possible without the
massive contribution of this dynamic duo, from building anything imaginable to professional productions and kindness and generosity. These two are amazing.
Photo: Mark Aubort
- Adam Douglass 2015