An-Other explores how positions of ‘self’ and ‘Other’ interact with structures of power and agency within Western and Moana Oceanian concepts of femininity, female sexuality, and the female body. The work responds to 85 colonial photographs of mostly unidentified Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, and Hawaiian women between 1880 and circa 1920s. I was struck by the lack of power and agency these women possessed (and continue to possess) over their own narrative. In response, I was interested in my own experience as a bi-racial woman: of fluctuating between the colonial binaries of ‘self’ and ‘Other’, and subordination to the Western male gaze in both cases.
I created a collage interwoven with pieces of broken mirror, in order to disassemble the narrative by challenging our own preconceived notions of ‘self’ and ‘Other’. Additionally, rather than focusing on ideas of ‘beauty’, ‘charm’ and ‘the exotic’ that the original images intended to invoke, the music composition vocalises the veiled conflicts in power and agency between the subject and the viewer. It also responds to the silent but sharp socio-cultural and political intersections operating within the images. I scored the work for five live flute parts featuring frantic atonal melodies, dissonant harmonies, unresolved cadences, harmonics, and percussive flute techniques. When a melody emerges out of sustained, overlapping tones, the viewer is prompted to assume their own agency or to attach the musical phrase to one of the photographed women. As more melodies are introduced, this process becomes increasingly complex.
Mixed media, sound
90.5 cm x 59.5 cm / 3 minutes, 5 seconds