TINO MANAIA (2016)

2 minutes, 17 seconds

Two-channel High Definition video

16:9, colour, sound

Tino manaia, ‘good body’ in Sāmoan, is a comment on the brown Indigenous body as exotic/erotic other within a capitalist Christianised contemporary culture. The artist Léuli Eshraghi depicts himself naked, vulnerable yet strong, looking back at the viewer, challenging the self-policing, shaming and invisibility of non-Anglo-Celtic bodies, genders and sexualities. The brown body is painted a luminescent gold. Gold here acts as a signifier of golden showers, sacred cumlines, received and enacted genealogies.

It can also be seen as clothing in referencing the pe‘a, customary Sāmoan men’s tattoo marking responsibility and family honour. The pe‘a covers the thighs, buttocks, hips, and lower back. Naked and clothed then, the Indigenous body is both sacred and everyday, finding a way of breaching contemporary taboos to really locate the urgency of wellbeing in bodies. Depicted on two adjacent screens, the visions of the artist’s back and front render the nude Indigenous body as an entity that cannot easily be consumed, its spirit defiant but open.

This work was produced during the 2016 Indigenous Visual + Digital Arts Residency, supported by the RBC Emerging Artist Award at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in Blackfoot, Stoney Nakota and Tsuu T’ina territories in Canada.

 

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