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Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil): Kalisolaite ‘Uhila

Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil): Kalisolaite ‘Uhila

3 May – 18 August 2024
Live performance: Wednesday 1 May, 10am - 4.30pm 
Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil) centres on a live performance by artist Kalisolaite ‘Uhila. Developed following a residency in Heretaunga Hastings in mid-2023, the work responds to the ways in which people live off and labour on the land. The artist is interested in the presence of agricultural workers from the Pacific in Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay, and the richness of soil as an elemental life-force and bedrock for sustenance.
‘Uhila’s work explores umbilical links between the earth and body in language. The Tongan phrase kelekele (soil, earth, ground), mo’ui (life, living) can be interpreted in multiple ways. ‘Uhila used an alternate translation for his 2015 performance Kelekele Mo‘ui (Giving Life), developed in Ōtautahi Christchurch during the city’s immediate recovery period. Both performances are also linked through the artist’s interest in regeneration and community labour centred around the soil.
Many of ‘Uhila’s performances incorporate silence and passivity–including the action of sitting still–to interrogate what he describes as maumau-taimi, “wasting time”. This practice turns attention to, and critiques expectations of labour, gender, and value projected onto the body through the lens of the artist’s experiences. In Kelekele Mo‘ui (Living Soil) the practice of maumau-taimi is juxtaposed with intense physical labour and endurance, and the aliveness and visceral qualities of the soil, such as smell and touch. 
Kalisolaite ‘Uhila was born in 1981 in the Kingdom of Tonga. He lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. ‘Uhila has received widespread recognition for his outstanding contributions to contemporary performance art. In 2017 he won the contemporary Pacific Artist Award at the Creative New Zealand Pasifika Arts Awards and in 2014 he was nominated for the Walters Prize. He has been awarded artist residencies at Montalvo Arts Centre, California, 2018; Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo, 2018, and ZK/U & Ifa Galerie Residency, Berlin, 2016. ‘Uhila was awarded the Harriet Friedlander Residency by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand to live and work in New York City from 2023-24.

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Sunday 16 June, 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Monday 17 June, 10:00am to 4:30pm


Restrictions: All Ages



Hastings Art Gallery, Hastings, Hawke's Bay / Gisborne
201 Eastbourne St East, Hastings, Hawke's Bay / Gisborne

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