Dravuni: Sivia yani na Vunilagi – Beyond the Horizon explores cultural transmission in the digital age, belonging and place-making, legends and storytelling. This exhibition at the New Zealand Maritime Museum from 24 June – 10 October 2016 is a collaboration between Ema and Kaliopate Tavola.
The father-daughter duo have been collaborating on a blog about their island of Dravuni for the last six years. The blog explores the history, legends, social structure and contemporary issues relating to Dravuni from the perspective of a ‘Kaidravuni’, one who is indigenous to the island.
The exhibition attempts to illustrate the on and offline connections and conversations the blog has enabled. “This is a deeply personal project that relates to my relationship with my Dad, our relationship to Dravuni, and the ways that the Internet and the ocean have become our gateways to the world,” says Ema Tavola.
“At its core it is a cultural transmission. It is the process of how we tell stories.”
Dravuni is a small island with less than 200 inhabitants. Although there is no airport or roads, there is a cruise ship dock and much of the island’s income stems from tourism. Many visitors comment on the unspoiled beauty of the island, the friendliness of the inhabitants and the snorkelling.
A panel discussion led by Ema and Kaliopate, Talanoa: The Vunilagi Project, will be held on 1pm Saturday 25 June 2016. The event will feature special guests and discuss the aspects of the project.
The root of the project has been fostered by Ema’s father’s blog which he begun six years ago to bring Dravuni to the world. “Before that the only information online was observations from cruise ship tourists. The blog gave Dravuni a voice,” says Ema. This exhibition endeavours not only to provide museum visitors with a deeper and more intimate introduction to the island, but also encourages them to reflect on the role of story-telling and the way in which knowledge and information is passed down through generations. The children from Dravuni have created drawings and art work have been heavily incorporated into the exhibition.
“The illustrations become the manifestations of where we want to go and who we are. Fundamentally it is storytelling with children and the illustrations are a big part of that.”
“At its core the illustrations by the children look at what is beyond the horizon of Dravuni and talk about what they anticipate is there,” says Ema, “for children growing up on the island, their playground was the beach and they would look out onto the ocean and dream about what is beyond the horizon.”
Some of the children’s illustrations will be applied to textiles and sold to tourists on Dravuni, enabling profits to be directed back into the school. The funds will go towards helping to expand the children’s horizons and taking the children to mainland Fiji. The exhibition also invites visitors to explore what’s home to them. “It’s is a chance to reconnect to where we are from.”
It speaks to many generations and shows how the different generations connect with one another. “The cultural norm is for children to be seen and not heard. This exhibition turns the tables and gives the children the opportunity to take the mic.”
“It’s part of the development of how we engage with the children. We asked them what their favourite thing to do in Dravuni is. It gives the exhibition a unique voice. It’s really quite ground breaking for Fiji.”
The exhibition opens at the NZ Maritime Museum on 24 June and runs alongside a community based project, Ko au te wai, ko te wai au: I am the water and the water is me, facilitated by South Auckland collective The Roots Creative Entrepreneurs.< BACK TO LISTINGS