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Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil): Kalisolaite ‘Uhila

Kalisolaite Uhila Kelekele Moui 2024 01 website image

Kalisolaite ‘Uhila, Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil) 2024, performance at Hastings Art Gallery. Photo: Robert George

3 Mei – 17 Ākuhata 2024
3 May – 17 August 2024

He whakaaturanga mataora a Kelekele Mo’ui (oneone ora) nā Kalisolaite ‘Uhila. I whanake i muri i tana whai wāhi ki te mahi ki Heretaunga i te 2023. He whakaata te whakaaturanga nei nō te ora o te iwi i te whenua. Ka arohia e te ringatoi ngā kaiahuwhenua o Te Matau-a-Māui nō Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, otirā, te mauri o te haukūnui.

Ka tūhuratia te hononga o ngā iho o te whenua ki te reo tinana. Arā noa atu ngā whakamāramatanga ki te kīanga nō Tonga, arā, te ‘kelekele’ (oneone, papatūānuku, whenua) ‘mo’ui’ (ora). He whakamāramatanga anō tā ‘Uhila mō te Kelekele Mo’ui (te tuu oranga) o te 2015 ki Ōtautahi, i te wā o te whakahoutanga o te taone. He hononga tō ngā whakaaturanga e rua, ringatoi mai, mahi ā-hapori mai, ko te oneone te tāhū.

Ko te nuinga o āna whakaaturanga he ngū, he rangimārie – tae atu ki te nohopuku ki te whakaatu i te ‘maumau taimi’, arā te moumou taima. Ko te aronga matua ko te kawatau i te āhua ki te mahi, te ira me te wāriu o te ropi e ai ki te ringatoi. Ka karapitihia e Kelekele Mo’ui (Oneone Ora) te maumau-taimi, te mahi, te manawaroa, me te oranga o te oneone, pēnei i ngā tairongo.

I whānau mai a Kalisolaite ‘Uhila i te 1981 ki Tonga. Kei Tāmaki Makaurau ia e mahi ana, e noho ana. Kua rongonui a ‘Uhila mō āna whakaaturanga, ā, nō te 2017 whakawhiwhia ai ia ki te tohu Ringatoi hou o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa i ngā tohu toi a Creative New Zealand, ā, nō te 2014 tautapatia ai ia mō te Walters Prize. Kua tohua ia hei ringatoi Motuhake ki Te Whare Toi o Montalvo, ki Karepōnia i te 2018; ki Youkobo Art Space, ki Tōkio i te 2018, ā, ki ZK/U & Ifa Galerie Residency, ki Berlin i te 2016. I whakawhiwhia a ‘Uhila ki te tohu Harriet Friedlander nā Te Tumu Toi o Aotearoa kia noho ki Te Āporo Nui i te 2023-2024 mahi ai.

 

Live performance: Wednesday 1 May, 10am - 4.30pm 

Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil) centres on a live performance by artist Kalisolaite ‘Uhila. Developed following a residency in Heretaunga Hastings in mid-2023, the work responds to the ways in which people live off and labour on the land. The artist is interested in the presence of agricultural workers from the Pacific in Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay, and the richness of soil as an elemental life-force and bedrock for sustenance.

‘Uhila’s work explores umbilical links between the earth and body in language. The Tongan phrase kelekele (soil, earth, ground), mo’ui (life, living) can be interpreted in multiple ways. ‘Uhila used an alternate translation for his 2015 performance Kelekele Mo‘ui (Giving Life), developed in Ōtautahi Christchurch during the city’s immediate recovery period. Both performances are also linked through the artist’s interest in regeneration and community labour centred around the soil.

Many of ‘Uhila’s performances incorporate silence and passivity–including the action of sitting still–to interrogate what he describes as maumau-taimi, “wasting time”. This practice turns attention to, and critiques expectations of labour, gender, and value projected onto the body through the lens of the artist’s experiences. In Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil) the practice of maumau-taimi is juxtaposed with intense physical labour and endurance, and the aliveness and visceral qualities of the soil, such as smell and touch. 

Kalisolaite ‘Uhila was born in 1981 in the Kingdom of Tonga. He lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. ‘Uhila has received widespread recognition for his outstanding contributions to contemporary performance art. In 2017 he won the contemporary Pacific Artist Award at the Creative New Zealand Pasifika Arts Awards and in 2014 he was nominated for the Walters Prize. He has been awarded artist residencies at Montalvo Arts Centre, California, 2018; Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo, 2018, and ZK/U & Ifa Galerie Residency, Berlin, 2016. ‘Uhila was awarded the Harriet Friedlander Residency by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand to live and work in New York City from 2023-24.

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