mea - alofa / a - gift - of presence
Meaalofa of Presence (The Gift of Presence) is a research project that was inspired by my aiga. Learning about my culture, my family and their past. Creating a platform to share their stories as a narration invitation to the wider community that could identify with the migrant journey and also those who are intrigued by it. It was a way of creating a collection of knowledge that could be passed down to future generations by unpacking how we got to where we stand now. Utilizing the teachings and principles taught to me from my childhood upbringing, my research and art practice explored how alofa and care influenced each component of the project and investigated the meaning of spaces (physical and non-physical) to understand the layering of connections that reside within them (and between us).
'The Gift' in this project encapsulates this idea of oneness by offering opportunities for acts of alofa to occur between me, the sites and the co-creators - my aiga. Also important to this project was that it was derived from a faith-based perspective, to be still, to be present and invite presence back into diasporic spaces. Being still in the moment and allowing the presence of being in these spaces enables an unveiling of underlying past knowledge to come to the surface. Looking at how connections can be made through stimulating a movement of bodies, like the physical, intellectual and spiritual, to create temporal spaces that invite and hold presence within historically meaningful sites that now lie Vācant. Highlighting the importance of learning and acknowledging our shared pasts and present histories by enlightening one another through exchanging these knowledges.
This project is based on the teachings of my childhood upbringing. Growing up surrounded by a Pasifika community and whanau, I learnt that our alofa was shown most through acts of service, an action that translates into a method of exchange. It was instilled in me from a young age to serve and relate to others through generosity, kindness, empathy and alofa. These learnings that I carry with me every day have naturally ingrained into a way of making. My research seeks to highlight the importance of learning and acknowledging our pasts and present histories through enlightening another through these actions and teachings. Through lens-based and installational practices, an invitation is extended to create a collective of shared histories, lived experiences and intergenerational knowledge that will ultimately create a platform to open up a talanoa (conversation) for all to reside in one space – to restore ‘left behind’ dreams of the migrant journey.