AITU Triptych

Images

Videos

AITU (Homage to Spirit)

Creative New Zealand Funded.

‘Aitu’: Ghosts / Spirits / Deity - Pronounced: Ah-Eat-Too
‘Gafa’: Genealogy / Lineage - Pronounced: Ngah-Fah
‘Fa’afafine’: Like-a-Woman - Pronounced: Fah-Ahh-Fah-Fee-Neh
‘Palagi’: Caucasian person - Pronounced: Pah-Lah-Ngee
‘Aiga’: Family - Pronounced: Ah-Ee-Ngah

 

I chose three historical ‘Aitu’ in my samoan ‘Gafa’ (lineage) that were always talked about, admired, feared, and had a deep impact on my life. Each deity represented an inspirational masculine and feminine energy that uplifted me growing up as a ‘Fa’afafine’ in Samoa and New Zealand.

AITU (Homage to Spirit)

Creative New Zealand Funded.

‘Aitu’: Ghosts / Spirits / Deity - Pronounced: Ah-Eat-Too
‘Gafa’: Genealogy / Lineage - Pronounced: Ngah-Fah
‘Fa’afafine’: Like-a-Woman - Pronounced: Fah-Ahh-Fah-Fee-Neh
‘Palagi’: Caucasian person - Pronounced: Pah-Lah-Ngee
‘Aiga’: Family - Pronounced: Ah-Ee-Ngah

 

I chose three historical ‘Aitu’ in my samoan ‘Gafa’ (lineage) that were always talked about, admired, feared, and had a deep impact on my life. Each deity represented an inspirational masculine and feminine energy that uplifted me growing up as a ‘Fa’afafine’ in Samoa and New Zealand.

Both worlds had their own multidimensional layers of belief systems that felt as if there was an ‘inner’ tug of war going on between the ancient Pacific relationship between ‘the living’ with their ancestry, gods, etc and the new Western ideology adopted in recent times, that seemed to require a de-culturalization of sorts to ‘fit in’ with the ‘Palagi’ way, a striping away of ‘the old’ identity for a ‘new one’. I did find that as dominant as this western belief system became, there was this strong, even defiant connection to the ancient belief system that remained in-tacked regardless, although underground.

This project, I chose to develop a multimedia work that would have four creative elements in, Photography, Film, Pacific Couture and Music, I could use to create a broader expression and amplification of the value these Aitu mean to me. I developed a team that traveled to Samoa and helped me photograph each Aitu by George Buckleton, in their own village of origin, with a small film crew, directed by Ramon Te Wake, to document the creative process, while shortly after that, I traveled to London to have the music produced by Robert O’Brien, with the writings and vocals by opera phenomenon, Aivale Cole.

Images

Nafanua - Prophecy

Location: Falealupo, Savaii, Samoa

The lineage of my grandmothers Su’afaiga title was the inspiration and although she has connections to the Lilomaiava aiga, my attention was focused on the time Nafanua’s, prophecy told her that she was going to be replaced by Christianity, and in front of Malietoa Fitisemanu and Su’afaiga, she bestowed her powers and authority on my ancestor, Su’afaiga. Today, this Su’afaiga title is still addressed as, ‘Le Maopu o Nafanua’, meaning, ‘The Ambassador of Nafanua’.

The Catholic Church built in the 1960’s, destroyed by cyclone Ofa in the 1990’s was the perfect backdrop up against the vast ocean behind it and was the perfect metaphor for man-made structures, ideas or belief systems are no contest with the laws of Nature. The red door represents the sacrifice man has already made walking into another mans doctrine based on a, ‘Our God is the and ONLY true one and everything else is Evil’ mentality, that has been at the root of all the wars, shedding more death and created the most ungodly acts. Meanwhile, Nafanua focuses on the blood-connections between the physical and non-physical. She encourages you to focus on your own personal relationship with spirit, rather than a ‘group think’ approach. The ruins symbolize the end of a cycle, a way of thinking, and an idea that doesn’t uplift when it condemns. All things come to its own death, transforming into the improvement.

Nafanua never left.

Taema - Identity

Location: Salelavalu, Savai’i, Samoa

My grandmothers, Su’afaiga title originates from this village and is where the Samoan traditional “Tatau” begins. My focus was on an ancestor who during the introduction of the London Mission Society (LMS) and The Catholic Church in Samoa, was an openly ‘heathen’ chief. In their competition to see who could convert the most people into their denomination, my ancestor, Su’afaiga, from Salelavalu, Savai’i refused to adopt this ‘new religion’. It wasn’t until shortly after his death, the ‘Malumalu’ (temple) he maintained to the family deity, Taema, was destroyed by the London Mission Society in Samoa 1865 as the last Samoan temple.

The White Rocks were in a vision i had before i flew to Samoa, but i didn’t know where they were until i arrived in the village. Someone in the van asked me where we were going? i told them that i didn’t know yet. Then i heard a voice tell me to follow the water. As we turned the corner i saw a road sign pointing toward the coast. I yelled to the driver, “turn right! turn right!”. Along this coastline, the first thing i saw were these white rocks out at sea, revealed at low-tide. Once i made the decision to shoot the Taema image there, i found out that we were shooting directly across from ‘Su’afaiga’s’ tomb.

I acknowledge Taema’s twin sister, “Tilafaiga” (Nafanua’s Mother) who is not the main feature in this triptych, but is valuable none the less and she shows her support for her sister.

Telesa - Protector

Location: Papase’ea, Upolu, Samoa

My grandfathers lineage connects me to one of Samoa’s most notorious Aitu also known by most as a Demon. As a child, i lived with my grandparents in a village called, Se’ese’e where the famous tourist attraction, ‘The Sliding Rocks’ are. At the time, we had no electricity, running water or a decent paved road, which meant we had to use kerosene lamps, rely on the rain to provide water gathered through roof water drains or filling buckets of water from the sliding rocks climbing up and down muddy slopes or walking long distances to the shop or school making daily life very exhausting at times. This period of my life is when i developed a close relationship with this so-called scary Aitu everyone was terrified of. Since, I’ve continued to feel protected by Telesa wherever i’ve traveled to, lived or whenever my life was ever threatened.

Before this creative trip to Samoa, i had a moment in New Zealand where i was sitting alone talking to Telesa about my intentions and how much i wanted her to be part of the creative process. This also meant that i wanted to double check that she was happy with the idea. That night i had a dream where i was in the double cab pickup truck speeding up the Se’ese’e hill with two people in the front seat, with three of us in the back seat, me in the middle. As we are speeding like mad, everyone is screaming out loud and I’m telling them to shut up!! Then i turned to the right hand-side to look out the window. I see Telesa standing under a tree, staring at me as she is brushing her hair. Then suddenly, the truck comes to a shocking halt, stopping in the middle of the road. Now everyone is facing forward to the truck headlights shining ahead. Then we noticed a dog appear from the right side of the road, cross the road in from of us and sits in the middle of the road facing us in the truck. Now silent, I say to them that if the dog moves to the right, Telesa is happy with my project. If not, the dog will move left. Then after a pause, as soon as the dog moves right, the truck speeds forward as it did, with everyone screaming again, all the way up the hill! I woke up in a fright, saying “Thank you!”

This image is about uplifting the real Telesa i know from the Telesa that is being misunderstood by powers at be, who demonized her for her natural beauty and strength. The authority was afraid of her power, so they manipulated her image to suit their own insecurities and fears of their own deviant behavior. The water flowing in and out of the rocks represents the emotion, the love and inner knowing that can only be accessed through her, by going within yourself. She is the guardian of these ancient mysteries.

It’s all in the “Eyes”.

 

Location: Samoa

Creative Director: Lindah Lepou
 
Photography: George Buckleton
 
Graphic FX: Maya McNicoll
 
Makeup: Abbie Gardiner
 
Hair Stylist: Freddy Neemia
 
Model: Brooke Evaga
 
http://www.creativenz.govt.nz 
 
http://www.samoa.travel
 
http://www.lynnsgetaway.com
 
 

Both worlds had their own multidimensional layers of belief systems that felt as if there was an ‘inner’ tug of war going on between the ancient Pacific relationship between ‘the living’ with their ancestry, gods, etc and the new Western ideology adopted in recent times, that seemed to require a de-culturalization of sorts to ‘fit in’ with the ‘Palagi’ way, a striping away of ‘the old’ identity for a ‘new one’. I did find that as dominant as this western belief system became, there was this strong, even defiant connection to the ancient belief system that remained in-tacked regardless, although underground.

This project, I chose to develop a multimedia work that would have four creative elements in, Photography, Film, Pacific Couture and Music, I could use to create a broader expression and amplification of the value these Aitu mean to me. I developed a team that traveled to Samoa and helped me photograph each Aitu by George Buckleton, in their own village of origin, with a small film crew, directed by Ramon Te Wake, to document the creative process, while shortly after that, I traveled to London to have the music produced by Robert O’Brien, with the writings and vocals by opera phenomenon, Aivale Cole.

Images

Nafanua - Prophecy

Location: Falealupo, Savaii, Samoa

The lineage of my grandmothers Su’afaiga title was the inspiration and although she has connections to the Lilomaiava aiga, my attention was focused on the time Nafanua’s, prophecy told her that she was going to be replaced by Christianity, and in front of Malietoa Fitisemanu and Su’afaiga, she bestowed her powers and authority on my ancestor, Su’afaiga. Today, this Su’afaiga title is still addressed as, ‘Le Maopu o Nafanua’, meaning, ‘The Ambassador of Nafanua’.

The Catholic Church built in the 1960’s, destroyed by cyclone Ofa in the 1990’s was the perfect backdrop up against the vast ocean behind it and was the perfect metaphor for man-made structures, ideas or belief systems are no contest with the laws of Nature. The red door represents the sacrifice man has already made walking into another mans doctrine based on a, ‘Our God is the and ONLY true one and everything else is Evil’ mentality, that has been at the root of all the wars, shedding more death and created the most ungodly acts. Meanwhile, Nafanua focuses on the blood-connections between the physical and non-physical. She encourages you to focus on your own personal relationship with spirit, rather than a ‘group think’ approach. The ruins symbolize the end of a cycle, a way of thinking, and an idea that doesn’t uplift when it condemns. All things come to its own death, transforming into the improvement.

Nafanua never left.

Taema - Identity

Location: Salelavalu, Savai’i, Samoa

My grandmothers, Su’afaiga title originates from this village and is where the Samoan traditional “Tatau” begins. My focus was on an ancestor who during the introduction of the London Mission Society (LMS) and The Catholic Church in Samoa, was an openly ‘heathen’ chief. In their competition to see who could convert the most people into their denomination, my ancestor, Su’afaiga, from Salelavalu, Savai’i refused to adopt this ‘new religion’. It wasn’t until shortly after his death, the ‘Malumalu’ (temple) he maintained to the family deity, Taema, was destroyed by the London Mission Society in Samoa 1865 as the last Samoan temple.

The White Rocks were in a vision i had before i flew to Samoa, but i didn’t know where they were until i arrived in the village. Someone in the van asked me where we were going? i told them that i didn’t know yet. Then i heard a voice tell me to follow the water. As we turned the corner i saw a road sign pointing toward the coast. I yelled to the driver, “turn right! turn right!”. Along this coastline, the first thing i saw were these white rocks out at sea, revealed at low-tide. Once i made the decision to shoot the Taema image there, i found out that we were shooting directly across from ‘Su’afaiga’s’ tomb.

I acknowledge Taema’s twin sister, “Tilafaiga” (Nafanua’s Mother) who is not the main feature in this triptych, but is valuable none the less and she shows her support for her sister.

Telesa - Protector

Location: Papase’ea, Upolu, Samoa

My grandfathers lineage connects me to one of Samoa’s most notorious Aitu also known by most as a Demon. As a child, i lived with my grandparents in a village called, Se’ese’e where the famous tourist attraction, ‘The Sliding Rocks’ are. At the time, we had no electricity, running water or a decent paved road, which meant we had to use kerosene lamps, rely on the rain to provide water gathered through roof water drains or filling buckets of water from the sliding rocks climbing up and down muddy slopes or walking long distances to the shop or school making daily life very exhausting at times. This period of my life is when i developed a close relationship with this so-called scary Aitu everyone was terrified of. Since, I’ve continued to feel protected by Telesa wherever i’ve traveled to, lived or whenever my life was ever threatened.

Before this creative trip to Samoa, i had a moment in New Zealand where i was sitting alone talking to Telesa about my intentions and how much i wanted her to be part of the creative process. This also meant that i wanted to double check that she was happy with the idea. That night i had a dream where i was in the double cab pickup truck speeding up the Se’ese’e hill with two people in the front seat, with three of us in the back seat, me in the middle. As we are speeding like mad, everyone is screaming out loud and I’m telling them to shut up!! Then i turned to the right hand-side to look out the window. I see Telesa standing under a tree, staring at me as she is brushing her hair. Then suddenly, the truck comes to a shocking halt, stopping in the middle of the road. Now everyone is facing forward to the truck headlights shining ahead. Then we noticed a dog appear from the right side of the road, cross the road in from of us and sits in the middle of the road facing us in the truck. Now silent, I say to them that if the dog moves to the right, Telesa is happy with my project. If not, the dog will move left. Then after a pause, as soon as the dog moves right, the truck speeds forward as it did, with everyone screaming again, all the way up the hill! I woke up in a fright, saying “Thank you!”

This image is about uplifting the real Telesa i know from the Telesa that is being misunderstood by powers at be, who demonized her for her natural beauty and strength. The authority was afraid of her power, so they manipulated her image to suit their own insecurities and fears of their own deviant behavior. The water flowing in and out of the rocks represents the emotion, the love and inner knowing that can only be accessed through her, by going within yourself. She is the guardian of these ancient mysteries.

It’s all in the “Eyes”.

 

Location: Samoa

Creative Director: Lindah Lepou
 
Photography: George Buckleton
 
Graphic FX: Maya McNicoll
 
Makeup: Abbie Gardiner
 
Hair Stylist: Freddy Neemia
 
Model: Brooke Evaga
 
http://www.creativenz.govt.nz 
 
http://www.samoa.travel
 
http://www.lynnsgetaway.com