Fagogo o Pati Solomona Tyrell at ST PAUL St Gallery

Emerging Auckland-based Samoan visual artist, Hamilton-born and raised Pati Solomona Tyrell, explores urban Pacific queer identity in his debut solo exhibition Fāgogo at ST PAUL St Gallery, on display until July 21.



The exhibition, presented as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, was developed with other artists and collaborators from the Pasifika LGBTQI sphere in Auckland- and explores not just Pacific queer identity but how this identity is shared, owned and passed on.

Fāgogo will draw out threads of conversations around Pacific queer identity by presenting many of Pati’s other narratives, such as his extensive documentation of the community over five years as the principle photographer for the FAFSWAG Arts Collective- the South Auckland based arts collective which he co-founded.


Fāgogo in Sāmoan refers to fables told to people in a shared context, the receiver of a fāgogo is vested with an expectation to pass on the story; making it their own and then passing it on.


The recent Bachelor of Creative Arts graduate, who graduated this year from Manukau Institute of Technology, says fāgogo can mirror the real world in ways that transcend contemporary life, through cultural imperatives that pre-date Western beliefs and value systems.


Often considered a place where heritage and tradition fall away from colonial distortions, and, in some instances, from linear narrative conventions, a fāgogo can build perceptions of the world while simultaneously presenting us with perspectives that are ethereal.



In a film, which gives Fāgogo its title, the research, writing, choreography, styling and garment construction is all collaborative and honours the tradition of fāgogo.


This is achieved by sharing the responsibility of telling this story and allowing artists to respond to their own cultural heritage, unpacking the colonial gaze placed on queer brown bodies to return gender and sexually diverse identities back to their oracle status.


Read more about Pati’s work in Victor Van Wetering’s art feature in the latest issue of SPASIFIK Mag, issue 69.


Go see Pati’s amazing work, which is on display in Galleries One and Two, at St Paul St Gallery til July 21.