I am interested in the experience of one’s childhood home through adult eyes. Embarking on this photography project, my initial impulse was to search for my dreamlike childhood memories of the South Pacific that I longed to relive. However, returning to this region as an adult I found that, of course, during my time away Fiji had changed and so had I. So, I threw out my preconceived notions of what I ought to photograph, and instead let the camera and Fiji guide me. I spent a year photographing anything and everything – a curiosity driven collection of information, stories and beautiful things. Afterward I edited and sequenced the photographs to construct a story of contemporary Fiji as the graceful, proud, historically and culturally complex, globally conscious nation that I find it to be. I am interested in the beauty of a layered, dense and eclectic vision of the Pacific.
I do not see these artworks as a definitive statement. Instead I enjoy how photographs are able to dance around the edges of complex issues – often raising more questions than they answer. With this work I address a delicate and ever-shifting balance between presence and absence, interior and exterior, and private and public spaces. I am drawing a visual and conceptual tension between dense overgrowth and the vastness of open sea, geographical remoteness and cultural connectedness, vulnerability and self-sufficiency, and natural beauty and imposed order. I am interested in exploring how all of these themes intersect and manifest on a personal level and find myself drawn to the photographs that directly image ideas of home and family.
There are several portraits in this series. Some are the result of comfortable collaborations with the individual pictured. Other portraits speak more to an awkward distance between the subject and me, an American photographer. Though I have grown up longing to return and to fit into Oceanian culture, I feel it is also appropriate to address my role as a cultural outsider.
My deepest gratitude goes to all of the people who allowed me to photograph their families, their homes and their belongings, who shared their personal stories and opened their lives, and were the most gracious hosts. Further, this project and exhibition would not have been possible without the support of the Fulbright Program, which offered me the unique opportunity to simply explore. Thank you also to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, the Head of School and staff of the School of Social Sciences, and the staff of OCACPS for your support, discussions, time, energy and advice, and for involving me in your scholarly community. Specifically, I thank the Gallery of Oceanian Art for all of the unseen support that any exhibition involves, and for generously hosting this exhibition.
Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Suva, Fiji, 2012
Laucala Bay, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia, 2012
Viwa, Fiji, 2012
Outside Namalata, Vanua Levu, Fiji, 2012
Laucala Beach, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Tabiang, Rabi, 2012
Robert Louis Stevenson House, Vailima, Samoa
Nasese, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Bua, Vanua Levu, Fiji, 2012
Garden of the sleeping Giant, outside Nadi, Fiji, 2012
Laucala Bay, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Abandoned House, Namlata, Vanua Levu, Fiji, 2012
Lovoni Village, Ovalou, Fiji, 2012
Silana, Fiji, 2012
Nadi, Fiji, 2012
Rakiraki, Fiji, 2012
Rewa Street, Suva, Fiji, 2012
Between Apia and Faleolo, Samoa, 2012