TOWARDS A NIU OCEANIA?: A SPACLALS HUI
(MEDIA RELEASE)—Are we still moving, as Albert Wendt called for in 1976, ‘Towards a New Oceania’? Has this new Oceania turned tides and become a ‘niu’ Oceania? In what ways and for what purposes? Wendt’s seminal treatise on the development of Pacific Arts and Criticism lay an elemental foundation for those in the Pacific to develop their creative and critical voices in a post-colonial (where ‘post’ means ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ colonialism) Pacific.
Wendt’s article poses questions that remain relevant today:
• With over 1,200 indigenous languages in our region, “plus English, French, Hindi, Spanish and various forms of pidgin” how do we “catch and interpret the Void”?
• “What is authentic culture?”
• How have contemporary writers and artists drawn on the “fabulous treasure house of traditional motifs, themes, styles, material” to “express our uniqueness, identity, pain, joy, and our own visions of Oceania and earth”?
This SPACLALS Hui investigates and celebrates Pacific Arts and Criticism by inviting submissions (critical papers, creative performances, workshops) that addresses a question above or engages with any of the following elemental themes and lines of inquiry:
EARTH: Examines the grassroots issues in the teaching and politics surrounding Pacific Literature (What Pacific Literature gets taught in our educational institutions? How do we best teach it? How do we best disseminate it? How do we get it published?)
FIRE: Fires up creative expression in literature (poetry, fiction, drama) and the arts (dance, song, sculpture) and asks “What makes this ‘niu’?” How is creative practice imbued with a sense of place, history, identity?
WATER: Our bodies are more water than blood. In what ways do both water (ocean) and blood (genealogy) carry the currents of contemporary identity-based inquiry?
AIR: Wind, breathe, word. What aesthetics from oral traditions and culture-based performance have been adapted in our contemporary critical and creative environment (spoken word poetry, dance, photography, the fine arts, sculpture, critical practice?)
Vitally, part of our ongoing decolonization means interrogating the boundaries that often exist between institutions and the community; between academia and creativity. The promotion, teaching, creation and dissemination of Pacific literature, arts, and criticism entail a holistic, grassroots approach that acknowledges the ‘Va’, the inter-relational connection between the scholarly and the creative. Therefore, critical and creative submissions will be interwoven throughout the hui. There will be a creative ‘call and response’ sharing on Thursday night, with finale performance event on Friday night.
This hui offers total immersion, total fun, and a totally ‘niu’ way of investigating and celebrating Pacific literature, its arts and its criticism. It will be valuable to the Professional Development of anyone working and teaching in a Pacific environment. It will also nourish and reinvigorate an existing network of Pacific writers, performers, artists and critics, and hopefully, inspire some new/niu contributors.
Keynote speaker is Maualaivao Albert Wendt.
SPAN, the journal of SPACLALS, will publish conference proceedings.