Tropical Thunder (2013) developed for the 5th Auckland Triennial, looks at how local traditions are changing due to a globalised economy. The project explores the way Pacific Island culture has been appropriated, mass produced in China and sold back to the culture it was appropriated from. This is the starting point the project takes to investigate contemporary culture in Otara, in the south of Auckland, where the community consists of around 70% Pacific Islanders.
The installation is constructed from materials sourced from the local discount stores surrounding the gallery, including a large inflatable structure constructed from mass produced plastic tablecloths, printed with hibiscuses, tropical fruit and other Pacific Island themed imagery. A table inside is supported by local soft drink bottles of synthetic ‘tropical’ flavours and the centrepiece of plastic tropical flowers holds printed multiples of a local knowledge food map that has been developed with the community. The commercialisation of traditional practices; and the significance of buying, cooking and sharing food in people’s everyday lives is revealed through the map edition that was created with various local stories about food; from personal memories to favourite places to eat. People are invited to take a copy to walk the area, using these voices to guide them.
A Kava session inside the inflatable structure was organised by local Pacifica architects and community organisers, The Roots Creative, to facilitate a conversation about the importance of community.
Thanks to; Fresh Gallery, Auckland Art Gallery and The Roots Creative