© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN: on Queer Pacific masculinity

Arwen Sommer
Savage in the Garden Green
Tanu Gago, SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN, 2019, with lighting assistance from Pati Solomona Tyrell, makeup & styling by Elyssia Wilson Heti, and model Tapuaki Helu. Tanu SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN, 2019

Tanu Gago's latest exhibition starts a conversation about cultural portrayals of Pacific Island men.

SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN opened this week at The Physics Room in Christchurch. The show is 3 photographs, a video work, and an hour-long sound work discussing what it means to be a Queer Pacific Island man.

“I wanted to start a conversation with audiences around Pacific masculinity and what that looks like today in the 21st century and addressing the old ideas around Pacific masculinity; how they impact our lives and what that means,” Gago says.

The Physics Room Director Jamie Hanton, says they want to make Gago's ideas as visible and accessible as possible.

“It means that we give over space and time for those conversations to happen and it’s amazing to work with Tanu on this.”

The exhibition was developed while Gago was the Pacific Artist in residence at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific studies at the University of Canterbury in 2018. It was a collaboration with small Pacific island communities and the photographs feature Tongan model Tapuaki Helu. The moving image work, APPARATUS, was developed for the From the Shore exhibition for Te Uru gallery in Auckland.

Gago is an interdisciplinary artist and award-winning photographer of Samoan heritage, raised in Auckland. He is the co-founder and creative director of Pacific LGBT Arts Collective FAFSWAG. Gago works mostly in new media and his work looks at social politics, decolonization, queer activism and gender and sexual diversity.

The exhibition runs from 4th April – 12th May 2019.

Savage in the Garden Red
Tanu Gago, SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN, 2019, with lighting assistance from Pati Solomona Tyrell, makeup & styling by Elyssia Wilson Heti, and model Tapuaki Helu. SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN, 2019