Loose Canons: Pati Solomona Tyrell
Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.
Pati Solomona Tyrell is an interdisciplinary visual artist with a strong focus on performance. Originally from Kirikiriroa, Waikato and now based in Maungarei, Tāmaki Makaurau, Pati uses lens-based media to create visual material centered around ideas of urban Pacific queer identity. He's shown work at Fresh Gallery Otara, PAH Homestead, Museum of Contemporary Arts Australia, and most recently at the Pingyao International Photography Festival. Pati is a co-founder of the arts collective FAFSWAG and a graduate of the Bachelor of Creative Arts at the Manukau Institute of Technology, Otara.
This week Pati opens new work Fa'aafa at the Basement Theatre, which combines Sāmoan oral traditions, adornment, movement and sound.
Solomona & Aotea
As a young queer Sāmoan it means so much to have the support of my parents and siblings. Often the stereotypes of relationships between queer Pacific people and their parents/families are negative ones, where there is no support or where children are cut off. My experience is one of many that stands as a counter-narrative: "It doesn't matter what you are, you are my son and I love you. All that I want is for you to be successful in whatever you do." My parents are very supportive of my art practices. Home was always filled with song & dance; my body always had inspiration to move and create.
Being the orator that he is, Dad has been helping me a lot lately with my writing and translating poetry into Sāmoan for new film and stage works. They are always very apologetic when they are unable to attend one of my shows, as they fear I think they don't support me enough, but in fact their love and acceptance of who I am is the very source of my creativity.
I am part of a queer Pacific art collective called FAFSWAG. I grew up in a mostly palagi-populated Hamilton and something I never really had growing up was people who reflected my identity. It's honestly so healthy being surrounded by unapologetic, queer Polynesian creatives. We are always creating together, challenging and bouncing ideas off each other, and calling out each other's bullshit. It's just good vibes to be navigating new territory with like-minded people. Watching their ideas manifest into magic, seeing their careers flourish and just doing life with this lot inspires me on a daily.
Throughout my childhood, I took interest in the pantheon of gods and goddesses, their functions and power. The first time I saw Rosanna Raymond was in her photographic work Full Tusk Maiden. I just had to know more, so I did a quick google search and found the other maidens. Though they weren't representations of gods, it was the way they were adorned, painted and photographed. They radiated power in a way that I only ever saw white gods/men captured in. For me it was the first time I saw a representation of a Pacific pantheon. Rosanna's practice is a huge influence on me and the direction of the visuals in my work.
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked." LOL – these four elements of nature have been a huge influence in my making more recently. I've come to realize in my research how important and sacred nature is to my culture and the different ways these four elements are used in Sāmoan ritual and beliefs. They've inspired me so much that they inspired my recent tatau. I now create artworks with the elements marked on my hands.
François / Pavel / Musav
I couldn't pick one, so here's a three-in-one: French ex-porn-star, now artist, François Sagat, Russian Naked DJ Pavel Petel, and Bulgarian erotic dancer Muzav La. Performance, Aesthetics and Body Goals! INSPIRATIONS! *enter wink tongue emoji*
Fa’aafa runs from 15-19 August at The Basement Theatre. Tickets available here.