Biennale of Sydney

Latai Taumoepeau

The Last Resort, 2020glass, single-channel video, soundCommissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Oranges & Sardines FoundationCourtesy the artistPerformer / Co-devisor: Taliu Aloua; Lighting Designer: Amber Silk; Soundtrack: James Brown; Costume: Anthony Aitch. Photograph: Zan Wimberley

Latai Taumoepeau

Born 1972 in Gadigal Ngurra / Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Gadigal Ngurra / Sydney, Australia


Latai Taumoepeau makes and presents work in the world and will return to her ancestral island nation of Tonga to learn and continue the faivā (performing art), sea voyaging and celestial navigation before she becomes an ancestor.

"The more ancient I am, the more contemporary my work is.
I’m not doing anything new.
When I do faivā, I perform space. When I do space, I do time – 
they are inseparable.

When I faivā, I do form. When I do form, I also do content – they 
are inseparable.
Faivā is the art of organising and performing social duties related
to place, the body and environment – they are inseparable.

I am an anti-disciplinary artist. Alive today "

As in all Taumoepeau’s faivā / performance works, at the centre is the Tongan world view. The Last Resort is a continuum of tauhi vā, the Tongan obligatory praxis of maintaining socio-relational space.

Surrounded by a wall of sacks filled with empty glass bottles. They are stitching up the sea. Wearing brick sandals on their feet and armed with an ‘ike (Tongan mallet) exclusively used to beat mulberry bark into large ceremonial cloth called ngatu or tapa, They smash and crush the glass into the present future. Empty, torn sacks adorn their necks as a lei or sisi, usually a garland of fresh tropical flowers and leaves worn as a body adornment in formal Pacific Island presentations, also used to welcome guests and keep their necks cool. They are stitching up sea at /as the last resort.

Courtesy the artist

Exhibited at

Exhibited Artwork

Latai Taumoepeau, The Last Resort, 2020

‘Surrounded by a wall of sacks filled with empty glass bottles. They are stitching up the sea. Wearing brick sandals on their feet and armed with an ‘ike (Tongan mallet) exclusively used to beat mulberry bark into large ceremonial cloth called ngatu or tapa, They smash and crush the glass into the present future. Empty, torn sacks adorn their necks as a lei or sisi, usually a garland of fresh tropical flowers and leaves worn as a body adornment in formal Pacific Island presentations, also used to welcome guests and keep their necks cool. They are stitching up sea at /as the last resort.’

Text courtesy the artist

The Last Resort excavates a dystopian image and experience of idyllic island landscapes, mostly considered as holiday destinations to outsiders. This endurance performance installation explores the fragility and vulnerability of saltwater ecologies and communities of Pacific Island nations in Oceania, responding to the emotional, geo-political and physical labour of Pacific people and their struggle in the acceleration of rising sea levels due to the melting of ice glaciers, threatening mass exodus and displacement.

Latai Taumoepeau, The Last Resort, 2020, glass, single-channel video, sound. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Oranges & Sardines Foundation. Courtesy the artist. Performer / Co-devisor: Taliu Aloua; Lighting Designer: Amber Silk; Soundtrack: James Brown; Costume: Anthony Aitch

Photograph: The Last Resort, 2020glass, single-channel video, soundCommissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Oranges & Sardines FoundationCourtesy the artistPerformer / Co-devisor: Taliu Aloua; Lighting Designer: Amber Silk; Soundtrack:

Location: Cockatoo Island