Dr Léuli Eshrāghi
Born 1986 in Yuwi Country, Australia
Lives and works between Mparntwe/Alice Springs, Australia and Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal, Canada
With artist collaborators Tommy Misa, Stelly Gapp and Kiliati Pahulu
"Building on ongoing research into multilingual and international Indigenous considerations of genders, sexualities, pleasures and futurities, re(cul)naissance comprises a neon, fabric, water pool and moving image installation. re(cul)naissance proposes a future state of unmitigated wellbeing and unashamed pleasure for faʻafafine, faʻatama, queer, trans, non-binary and further peoples who have been violently removed from our erstwhile key roles in intellectual and ceremonial life in multiple Indigenous kinship systems."
re(cul)naissance creates a ceremonial space that honours both precolonial kinship systems, life-cycles, pleasures, connections, multiple genders and sexualities, and creates a speculative future-space free of colonial shame. Through its forms, materialities and concepts, the work activates different Sāmoan and other Indigenous concepts, including ‘mālamalama, the process of understanding or enlightenment through close reading or attentiveness to symbiotic pō, the potential-filled night/origin of the universe, and lagi, multiple heavens from which all deities relate to humans and other kin animals.’ Drawing on the natural light, the space is also a symbolic reversal of the notion of the ‘Coming of the Light’ (the evangelical missionary project forcefully conducted around the world) instead embracing the Indigenous practices and forms of expression considered deviant by Western missionaries.
Dr Léuli Eshrāghi, Sāmoan artist, curator and researcher, intervenes in display territories to centre Indigenous presence and power, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices. Through performance, moving image, writing and installation, ia engages with Indigenous possibility as haunted by ongoing militourist and missionary violences that erase faʻafafine-faʻatama from kinship structures. Ia contributes to growing international critical practice across the Great Ocean and North America through residencies, exhibitions, publications, teaching and rights advocacy.
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Artspace, and generous assistance from babylikestopony, Spacecraft, Neolite, Angela Tiatia, Jeremy Skellern, Julia Greenstreet, Edward Horne, Nina Ambjerg-Pedersen and Hannah Rauwendaal
Courtesy the artist
Photograph: Jessica Maurer
Location: Cockatoo Island