Worlds and places are in continuous motion, as they have always been. For global Indigenous communities, these motions (re)turn us from home and to homeland and make us remember the village in the urban. Yet this continuous sense of movement has a less romantic footing in our regular commutes from home and to work, dialling into the global world through our broadband connections and the repetition of the daily grind. Moments to catch our breath then seem somewhat hard to come by. During air travel, a layover can encompass a delayed arrival, a change in direction, and the anticipation of the next movement. But it can also offer a moment of pause, a respite in the midst of ongoing motion. For Indigenous peoples not at home, layovers can mark the places we settle in for generations at a time, new kinds of neighbourhoods. Maybe they are moments of respite which never end. Or perhaps they represent the ongoing journeying which never quite stops. Through the work of BC Collective with Louisa Afoa and Edith Amituanai, Layover, the exhibition, offers a moment to ask what a home may look like for cultures in motion.
The classic Last Supper reproduction, barbells on the living room floor, and a love of Marvel super heroes all feature in Amituanai’s photographic study of the place-making of transnational Moana peoples. Her photos of Auckland, Alaska and Niue span an eleven-year period, and 12,000-kilometre distance. Examining the ways we reflect ourselves, both in our homes and in public spaces, Amituanai’s photographs are reminders that it’s not only people that are in motion but that our cultures are too. Confounding ideas of authenticity, Amituanai captures new ways of making place in homelands as well as how homeland influences are articulated once you are outside of them. Are we still mimicking the domestic interiors of our parents and grandparents, or do we have new ways of displaying our hybridity?
If Amituanai is asking what culture looks like when it travels, then BC Collective in collaboration with Louisa Afoa are offering their answer. The collective bring together many ancestries from Niue, Sāmoa, Aotearoa and Lakota Country. Kai as Koha (2019) with its many moving and intricate parts focuses on food and storytelling as ways to keep the home fires burning. Hiapo lines the table, with handmade ceramic dinnerware sitting on top. The table, activated through invitation-only dinners, suggests food and story as ways of retaining culture as well as sharing it. In one sense, food is a way of establishing and remembering home across distances; a way also to show love and a process of gifting.
This exhibition is a connection point in the larger trajectory of a curatorial collaboration, while producing the spatial experience of a layover, as a moment of respite and reflection. Amituanai and BC Collective provide an opportunity to ask, what is this journey we are on? What is produced in the movement of Indigenous bodies, cultures, and knowledges across time and space? How does such movement, physical and conceptual, manifest itself? Layover is an invitation to consider collective and individual movements and how they intersect and impact one another.