Sione Faletau: Ha'amonga
20 March – 1 May 2015
Sione Faletau is a South Auckland-based visual artist of Tongan heritage who specialises in performance and moving image works. Faletau has recently graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours in 2013. Since graduating, Faletau’s performance works are quickly gaining recognition in exhibitions such as New Grads (2014) at Gus Fisher Gallery where his work Ulu Kiekie was exhibited and purchased by the University of Auckland.
Sione Faletau’s moving image work Ha’amonga is an endurance piece performed by the artist and his two younger brothers. The performance is based on the stone trilithon Ha’amonga ‘a Maui located in Tongatapu, which translates to mean the burden carried on the shoulder of Maui. According to Tongan mythology Maui brought the stone monument on his shoulders from Wallis Island. The construction of the stone monument dates back to the 13th century and was ordered by Tu’i Tonga Tu’itatui – 11th King of Tonga.
Faletau draws on Tongan mythology and varying historical accounts of the Ha’amonga to explore and strengthen his relationship with his brothers. The moving image work shows Faletau and his brothers recreating the structure of the Ha’amonga stone monument accompanied by a soundscape, reflective of rhythm and timing set in faiva fakatonga (Tongan dance). Visually, the layered bodies recall historic accounts that suggest the Ha’amonga functioned as a burial site. In accordance with historic manuscripts written in 1870, Tu’itatui who said “Men do your work, whilst I am alive” envisioned the stone monument as a burial vault. It is also believed that the positioning of the Ha’amonga acted as a gateway to Heketa, the royal compound.
Ha’amonga will launch the new exhibition programme at the Ōtara Cube, a public exhibition space at the Ōtara Town Centre, curated by Ane Tonga and supported by Fresh Gallery Ōtara with funding from the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board.
Scott Hamilton, Sione Faletau's Trembling Moment. Eye Contact. 2015.