Pamata Diaz Toleafoa
Oceanic histories, indigenous writers, mythology and myths have always captivated me. In particular, I am passionate about tala o le vavau (oral histories) and measina (cultural objects), and the language embedded in them. My practice this year has illuminated for me the rich knowledge of Samoa and fa'asamoa (ways of Samoa) which are the bridges connecting me to my gagana (language), aiga (family), nu'u (village), fanua (land) and fa'asinomaga (identity).
This has been particularly important for me as a New Zealand born Samoan. Over a year, I collected and bought materials reflecting Samoa and fa'asamoa. Many of these materials included raffia, shells, feathers, assorted colours, fabric, tapa, ie toga, afa and many more. These materials were used to make tuiga (ceremonial headdress).
Traditional tuiga commonly known as 'tuiga fau' were made into different compartments and neatly woven into the head of a high chief's daughter or son. The modern tuiga is a combination of all elements into one piece called a 'tuiga pulou', and it is worn by anyone - a method that's evident in my practice.
Using photography, I investigated the essence of a Samoan cultural object in its elaborate form. While constructing and capturing Measina, I was drawn to oral histories which resulted in a two-week field trip to Samoa. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in, and interact with, the worlds of my people where oral histories are rich and free from misinterpretation.
Grasping as many stories as I could, my tuiga is the physical representation of these stories. I place my tuiga as an embodiment of the oral histories that I was gifted. Just as oral histories are often represented by written text, these tuiga embody those oral histories; interacting in space in lieu of the human presence.