In five words, describe your place in the sector.
An art baby taking risks
What first drew you to the sector i.e. Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
My parents never had the opportunity to go to university so me and my sister grew up being told that we had no choice and that we were going to do it the ‘easy’ way rather than having to work through the ranks as they did. At high school I did only social sciences (history, classics, geography, english), what the heck can you do with those subjects? When it was time to apply for university I thought art school might be a good idea and just crossed my fingers. I got into Elam at The University of Auckland and that was that.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
There are a lot of things I think about when editing and writing about art, although I don’t know that I would call them challenges. I think a lot about my responsibilities to the audience or to the readers and how I can balance that with my responsibilities to the artists, curators and institutions. I also think about whether the institutions, artists and curators think they have a responsibility to me as an audience member of it that’s not something they care about.
But I think most about my responsibility as one of the only Pacific writers of art criticism, I think about where the heck my peers and my Māori tuakana are. I think about how to simultaneously play a role of advocacy because I am more sympathetic to the cultural context and how to play a role of the critic because, again, I am more sympathetic to the cultural context.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
A lot of people have and still do provide me with a lot of support. I had some great tutors while at University, and since then people like Janet Lilo, Edith Amituanai, Ema Tavola and Anthony Byrt have been generous enough to share coffee, toasted sandwiches, emails and tweets. What’s of most importance to me though are my peers, I have a really exciting group of friends and colleagues who are all breaking new ground as artists and curators here and overseas. We call each other out when something’s not working and develop together, it’s a really exciting and necessary form of support.
What do you think people at your own level (emerging etc) bring to the sector?
My peers take risks and say stuff, something which we don’t see much of.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
I would like to see the artificial measures of diversity that our institutions are obsessed with become redundant because power dynamics shift and genuine diversity is normal. I would like to see issues of indigeneity move beyond a basic understanding of identity politics. I would also like to see institutions take more of a responsibility in cultivating a culture of critical discourse, in my experience curators are more resistant to criticism than artists, while simultaneously complaining there is not enough it, why?
What is your karaoke song?
Backstreet Boys, I want it that way.