Greg is a self taught photographer and filmmaker who has accumulated a large number of residencies and awards. His first residency was at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, France in 2007. In 2008 Greg took up an artist residency at Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Greg has also been artist in residence in Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, 2009; Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Nouméa, New Caledonia, 2010; Elcho Islands Arts Centre, Elcho Island, Northern Territory, Australia, 2011;
Greg is a New Zealand/Samoan artist who is currently based in Berlin but has lived in Sydney since 2008. He investigates the consequences of colonisation, in particular the introduction of Christian religion to the Pacific Island region. Greg’s practice looks at the depiction of Pacific people as exotic, primitive savages within religious and artistic texts citing the curatorial practices of museums and institutions as perpetrators of problematic stereotyping. Greg’s focus is upon the loss of accuracy in storytelling and authentic culture through cultural displacement – a consistent byproduct of colonialism. With Greg’s self-taught background in film and photography, and an interest in classical painters such as Caravaggio, he presents photographic narrative that seems to be in constant flux, insinuating movement but never explicitly suggesting what will happen next.
In 2007, Musee de Quai Branly, Paris, commissioned Greg to interpret and respond to a poster featuring the All Blacks performing the haka with the silhouettes of ancestral Maori figures in the background titled Bonded by Blood. From this, Greg conceived The Battle of the Noble Savages series. The series, which has exhibited in various galleries since its inception, depicts indigenous Maori in various roles, both as the inaccurately represented savage and as the foreign coloniser, playing on the exoticised artworks that came from the New Zealand Wars and then exposing the more contemporary commercial exploits such as Bonded by Blood which suggest a parallel between the fighting attitudes of indigenous Maori figures of importance and Rugby players.
Greg has exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions including: Living in Custody, Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, 2017; Greg Semu:'12', Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, 2016; Greg Semu – The Raft of the Tagata Pasifika (People of the Pacific), National Gallery of Victoria – International, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2016; Two Bodies, Two Landscapes, Zwei Körper, zwei Lanschafte, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany, 2015; Melbourne Art Fair, Melbourne, Australia, 2014; Greg Semu: The Battle of the Noble Savage, Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History, Palmerston North, New Zealand, 2014; International Travelling Exhibition, South East Museum of Photography in conjunction with the Queensland Centre for Photography, 2013; Headcount, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, 2013; Battle of the Noble Savage, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013; Better to Give: The Greg Semu Archive, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, 2012; The Last Cannibal Supper, Galerie Métropolis, Paris, France, 2012.