Since 2008, Ane has been researching nifo koula – a form of Tongan body adornment where gold is melted onto the visible surface of teeth. For many recipients the procedure is carried out in the Kingdom of Tonga, using gold sourced from heirlooms such as wedding rings, which infuses gold teeth with layers of meaning and memory.
Grills (2008-2014) explores nifo koula as female symbols of faka’ofo’ofa (Tongan beauty). Each image in this series explores, and challenges, traditional notions of gender, femininity and Tongan beauty. For example the works visually examine sino molu (soft supple body), ngingila (shininess) and tapu (sanctity of hair and head) as well as more vernacular notions of beauty such as hinehina (a preference for fair skin) and sino lelei (an idealized full figured body). The photographs are accompanied by the moving image work Malimali. Together, this installation
unpacks notions of gender and femininity through the visages of Tongan women living in Aotearoa to reveal the changing notions of beauty, and in some instances, the intersections between Tongan and western ideals.
We Do This, 12 - 23 May 2018. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.
The Devil's Blindspot, 19 November 2016 - 12 March 2017. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.
Ata Te Tangata, 1 - 23 June, 2017. Pingyao International Photography Festival, China.
Ane Tonga: Men are from Maama, Women are from Pulotu, 1 April - 28 May 2017. Mangere Arts Centre Nga Tohu o Uenuku, 2016.
Pacifique(s) Contemporain, 4 November - 19 December, Galerie 65 de l’ESADHaR, Le Havre, France.Le Havre, France.
Grills. 12 February - 3rd May 2015, Waikato Museum – Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.
Ane Tonga: Grills, 30 May - 28 June 2014. Gus Fisher Gallery. Exhibition Text by Associate Professor and Art Historian, Leonard Bell
Tonga ‘i Onopooni, 12 April - 24 August 2014. Pataka Art Museum. Exhibition Catalogue by Art Historian and Curator, Nina Tonga
Girls Who Shoot, Boys Who Draw, 19 May - 16 June 2012, Papakura Art Gallery.
Writing / Reviews
Victor Rodger, "Ane Tonga's Seta," in Bulletin 191, 2017.
Catharina Van Bohemen - "A Golden Time," in Art Zone Issue No. 62, 3015.
Stella Ramage- "Tonga Unmoored," in Art New Zealand Issue 151 Spring 2014.
Caroline Vercoe -"The Sentiment of Nifo Koula: 'So People Will Where We Are From," in Art New Zealand Issue 15, Spring 2014.
Lana Lopesi, Tongan Tooth Adornment. Eye Contact. 2014.
Grills was produced with the assistance of Creative New Zealand funding.