Casula Powerhouse presents Bittersweet: a new Fijian art exhibition
Casula Powerhouse has unveiled a brand new exhibition titled Bittersweet, presenting an artistic journey into Fijian history, culture and experiences of diaspora. Featuring artists from Australia, New Zealand and the UK, Bittersweet explores ideas of home, connection, friendship and storytelling.
The exhibition has been expertly curated by Shivanjani Lal – a Fijian-Indian Australian artist based in Western Sydney. She began her art practice seven years ago, and has worked with a diverse range of mediums, including photography, video and performance. Her work in Bittersweet, titled Chhaapaa, uses print-making to explore her relationship to her family’s farm in Sigatoka, Fiji.
“In many ways that’s what my work is trying to do. It’s trying to hold onto something valuable, not necessarily for an audience, but for my family and for myself,” Shivanjani explained.
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Shivanjani’s desire to build relationships with other Pacific artists, as well as to uncover the complexities of Fijian history are what inspired her to create this exhibition. Events such as coup d’état and the ongoing process of immigration have contributed to a sizeable Fijian diaspora, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.
“[The exhibition] acknowledges this history. And I think it does it in a way that those things are very poignant and visceral,” Shivanjani shared.
Bittersweet brings these stories and experiences to life by showcasing the works of both iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) and Indo-Fijian artists. Visitors can expect to see a variety of mediums, such as collage, street signage, soundscape and videography.
The title Bittersweet is significant. Not only is it a literary reference to historian Brij Lal’s book Bittersweet: An Indo-Fijian Experience, but it also alludes to Indian people’s arrival in Fiji, who were brought to work as indentured labourers on sugar plantations.
“There is something bittersweet about that history and its legacy for each community.”
Shivanjani hopes that the exhibition will help to strengthen relationships between iTaukei and Indo-Fijian communities living outside of Fiji.
“It’s about finding those connections between these two communities that coexist in Fiji, but might not necessarily exist outside of that space.”
“It’s also about helping people have those conversations about the past and what we would like for the future,” she added.
WHEN: 8 August — 27 September 2020
WHERE: Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula NSW 2170
Click HERE if you would like to listen to the featured artists speak about their work.