Born in Samoa and now based in South Auckland Tanu is an artist working across a variety of mediums including film and photography. As well as practicing art Tanu is also a freelance videographer who has mostly worked in the South Auckland arts and community sectors creating promotional, instructional and documentary videography for clients including Auckland Council and TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre. Studying at Unitec Institute of Technology Tanu received a Bachelor of Arts in performing arts with
Tanu is an image constructer, producing self-reflexive work drawing strongly from his individual experiences as a gay Pacific man living in South Auckland. He portrays both his ethnic and gender identities in a positive manner challenging existing representations of both race and sexual identity. Interested in the idea of ‘hyper-realities’, Tanu reclaims the space of Pacific representation as a passive form for destabilising existing often simplifying dialogues surrounding culture. By representing himself he inherently connects a multitude of diverse communities that continue to be absent from mainstream visual culture.
The Sound of the Ocean was first exhibited during the Enjoy Public Art Gallery Summer Residency in Wellington early 2015. The Residency and accompanying exhibition called Between Wind and Water included Tanu, Leilani Kake and Luisa Tora and was curated by Ema Tavola. This seven minute film work departs from Tanu’s earlier well known glossy images instead questioning the danger in consumption of global information through the television. The Sounds of the Ocean relays appropriated New Zealand advertisements accessed online which were aimed at Pacific migrants from the 1920s onwards with text and other imagery. The advertisements were tools in framing the New Zealand publics perception and understanding of the Pacific migrant. In this work Tanu timelines these perspectives reframing this particular code of transmission as well as making distinctions between internal and external cultural framing.
Tanu has exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions including: Certainly Very Merry, Tim Melville Gallery, 2016; The Sound of the Ocean, The Pah Homestead, 2016; Re-reading the rainbow, RM Gallery, 2015; Between wind and water, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, 2015; Queer Resistance, RM Gallery, 2015; Three / 3, Headon Festival of Photography, Ambush Gallery, 2015; 14th China Pingyao Int’l Photography Festival, China, 2015; Tama’ita’i Pasifika Mao’i, Auckland Festival of Photography Annual Commission, Silo 6, 2014; Navigation Pacifica Casula PowerHouse, Sydney, Australia, 2013; Home: AKL, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2012; ATA: Contemporary Samoan Artists, University of LaVerne, California, USA Group exhibition, 2012; The Last Interpreters, University of Waikato, 2012; Colour Renders, Snow White Gallery, 2012; Avanoa o Tama, Fresh Gallery Ōtara, 2012; Anatomy of Paradise, Artstation, 2012; Mana Takatpui: Taera Tane, City Gallery Wellington, 2011; You Love My Fresh, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, 2010 and Small Axe 09, Artspace, 2009.