Christopher Ulutupu, Be Happy // Be Still

25 October - 10 November 2019

“Christopher Ulutupu’s video/performance art practice explores ongoing themes around landscape, photography, and the construction of colonial narratives. Responding to early 1900’s landscape photography and ‘postcard’ tourism, his earlier work has looked at depictions of Pacific brown people, disseminated throughout the western world. His practice seeks to re-contextualise these stereotypes and re-imagine them through video and performance, offering new ways of exploring the effects of colonisation and diaspora.”

Heather Galbraith, 2018

Be Happy || Be Still is a series of video works exploring the rhetoric commonly directed towards diasporic communities and the expectations of assimilation. “Be Happy” describes the performance of gratitude; “Be Still” suggests the acceptance of a ‘Kiwi’ identity as the norm — one that should not be questioned.

It was during a recent trip to China that Ulutupu became interested in the agency that individuals and communities have in navigating the mechanisms of society, as well as the subtleties of how spaces are co-produced. Signage stood out as a key medium for messages to be distributed. Upon returning to Aotearoa Ulutupu was particularly interested in how this medium could capture and represent rhetoric directed at diasporic communities. 

Installation Views