Pasifika artists to explore ‘next level’ digital art

18 Mar 2022

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .

NEWS

Headshots of the eleven Pacific artists of the Pacific Arts Digital NFTs pilot programme.

Ten Pasifika artists will explore and evaluate the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs*) and develop their digital practice, in a pilot programme supported through Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Strategy.

The Pacific Arts Digital NFTs pilot programme is a new initiative aimed at supporting the artists to identify gaps in their digital knowledge, receive training to create content, learn about NFTs and explore new ways to promote and celebrate Pacific artists of all genres through digital platforms. As well, participants will share what they learn through talanoa and communicating to arts communities and institutions about the project. 

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright says, “Through the Pacific Arts Digital NFTs pilot programme we’re supporting a sector initiative to explore and evaluate emerging technologies, and consider their potential for taking digital art to a ‘next level’.”  

“NFTs are being heralded as a new way of making and delivering creative work, and the pilot will help us understand more about what’s possible, and the potential risks and benefits. It’s a relatively small investment across all the participants and brings a wealth of creative talent to the task.”  

The pilot runs through April, with a total investment of $30,000.   

Creative New Zealand Manager, Pacific Arts Kawika Aipa says, “We’ve had a great response to other recent digital pilots and that signalled to us the need to do more. We want to support the creative leadership of Pacific artists and enable them to explore and evaluate new arts spaces – new ways of doing things.” 

The pilot is being led and managed by Auckland-based artist and arts manager Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi who is contracted to Creative New Zealand. Iokapeta previously managed the Learning (Education) and Outreach programmes of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. She is currently researching NFTs as part of her Master’s degree in Technological Futures (Tech Futures Lab).   

Iokapeta says, "The beauty of this project is that, while most of the artists have not yet created an NFT, the outcome will at the very least open up engagement to the world around NFTs. It's more important that Creative New Zealand is supporting artists going into this space with a critical lens on a mainstream narrative and not being swayed by the hype around NFTs.”

“At the same time, we want to support capacity building for our artists to have access to these resources. And if that narrative doesn't serve our people, then that's a different story. But we're not going to know if we don't engage. So, I'm looking forward to the collective talanoa." 

“The pilot will bring together ten very different artists, who will embark on ten different journeys in this space. Each artist will have their own projects in mind, as they navigate in this space.”

The Pasifika digital artists participating in the pilot (photos above clockwise from top left), are: 

  • Uelese Vavae - Mural and Virtual Reality artist 
  • Andy Lelaisi'uao - Painter 
  • Faiumu Matt Salapu - Music/Video Producer 
  • Jep Savali - Music Producer 
  • Tanu Gago -  Film/Virtual/Augmented Reality
  • Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi - Artist, Pilot Leader/Manager (image: Justine McLisky) 
  • Sefton Rani - Sculptor/Painter  
  • Raymond Sagapolutele - Photographer 
  • Nikolai Talamahina - Music Producer/Website Developer 
  • Kat Iosia - Augmented Reality/Sculptor 
  • Allen Vili - 3D/Digital creator 

All other images supplied.

*NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are digital assets and come in many forms, including digital sound clips and artworks. They’re unique, have a signature to prove their authenticity and are stored in a blockchain rather than hung on the wall.  

Some recent articles about NFTs: 

The Big Idea: The Dark Side of NFTs 

The Big Idea: Why Creatives Need to Know About NFTs 

Radio NZ: Gimmicky status symbol or tech revolution zeitgeist? Here's what you need to know 

Stuff: How NFTs are changing the New Zealand art world 

NZ Herald: The Richlister and NFTs: Kiwi businessman Craig Heatley invests in blockchain art 

Washington Post: Will NFTs transform the art world? Are they even art? 

Time: NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World—But They Could Change So Much More