Pacific Sovereignty and creating an Asia Pacific Bubble

Paekākāriki 88.2FM’s Mark Amery speaks to curator David Teh in Singapore about expanding our notions of sovereignty in a time of a global pandemic, ahead of the premiere of a series of artist films at Pataka in Porirua, Friday evening.

In terms of Covid, New Zealand and Singapore have had a similar number of deaths with similar population size. Recently, it’s been announced that New Zealanders, along with citizens of Brunei, can now enter Singapore with just a Covid test. Yet, as we conceive of an Asia-Pacific bubble in 2021, there are many dramatic differences between the way these two country’s consider themselves. As the cracks in globalisation are shown up different notions of sovereignty across cultures and countries are more apparent.

Mark Amery for Paekākāriki 88.2FM’s Te Pae spoke to David Teh, an art curator and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, on these topics and why he has themed a series of moving image art commissions and a symposium at Pataka in Porirua this month Sovereign Pacific / Pacific Sovereigns. This is the Aura Festival (more information here). “What is sovereignty?” he asks “Is it innate and universal, or something to be contested and won, in a given place and time?”

The premiere of artist moving image organisation Circuit’s Artist Cinema Commissions is at Pātaka Art + Museum on Friday 23 October at 6:30pm (admission is free). It includes the premiere of new works by Rangituhia Hollis, Ana Iti, Alex Monteith, Sione Monu and Gary-Ross Pastrana. Rangituhia Hollis’ work is a kaleidoscopic animation that begins with the voice of a lone driver observing the passage of the moon in the night sky. Ana Iti reworks two 19th century editions of the Māori language newspaper Te Pīpīwharauroa to build an experimental narrative which explores ideas around language and understanding. Alex Monteith explores neo-colonial issues from commercial ocean exploration to local foreshore management at Piha. Sione Monu imagines as if Tonga had never encountered influence from the West. In this alternate universe crystals are the main export/import in Tonga economy. The fifth artist Gary-Ross Pastrana, is a Filipino artist based in Manila.

This symposium, co-hosted by CIRCUIT and Pātaka Art + Museum, will explore how sovereignty is inscribed in art – on page, on screen, in space, on bodies, and in the natural world. Is it altered by contemporary media? Which histories does it invoke, and which does it counter? The 1-day programme will bring together artists and thinkers in an interdisciplinary dialogue with the 2020 Circuit Artist Cinema commissions, and special guest presenters from outside Aotearoa New Zealand. Register online here.