Talking Story about Art and Life: Narratives of Contemporary Oceanic Artists and Their Work
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Talking Story about Art and Life: Narratives of Contemporary Oceanic Artists and Their Work takes a narrative, biographical approach to examine the lives and selected works of five contemporary Oceanic artists living and working in Aotearoa New Zealand – Ioane Ioane, Ema Tavola, Brett Graham, Robin White, and Siliga David Setoga. The narrative methodology, inspired by the Hawaiian notion of “talking story,” utilises informal conversations as sites of knowledge production. This approach allowed more personal and varied information to emerge, which speaks to the pluralities of identity. Instead of focusing primarily on visually analysing the creative output of the artists, their artworks and practices are incorporated as aspects of their voices that contribute to the narratives of their lives. The participants told stories that engage with the complexities intrinsic to their lives, revealing areas to research for the purpose of supporting their narratives. The supporting research investigates the notion of vā, Oceanic curatorial practices, trickster discourse, insider/outsider discourse, and fa‘a Sāmoa. In carrying out this investigation, this thesis illustrates choices artists are making to express their voices on their own terms. Bringing to light these choices also reminds viewers/readers that we can actively shape our own narratives. By privileging the artists’ stories told in their own words, this thesis honours Oceanic oral traditions and moves forward our understanding of these contemporary Oceanic artists and their artistic practices.