Black Grace presents
Dance by Neil Ieremia
Paradise Rumour is an extension of my 2009 work Gathering Clouds, a response to an economist’s discussion paper, “Growing Pains: The valuation and cost of human capital and the impact of Pacific migration on the New Zealand economy”. His controversial claims caused significant hurt within the Pacific Island community in Aotearoa, while emboldening those with more xenophobic views. The Human Rights Commission released a review of Dr. Clydesdale’s paper titled “Pacific Peoples in New Zealand; review of the public controversy about a discussion paper on immigration policy and the economic contribution of Pacific migrants to New Zealand”. It found that the paper was poorly researched and prejudiced, I couldn’t help but feel that the damage had already been done.
The provocation for Paradise Rumour, was based on the central question of “how far have we really come since then?”
Paradise Rumour bounces back and forth through time and space, starting with the arrival of the missionaries to the Pacific, and collecting memories, visions, experiences both personal and collective.
Weaving together four separate parts of the same experience within the one person, the first dancer represents hope + resistance, the second sorrow + acceptance, the third control + release, and the fourth faith + crisis.
Serving as another source of inspiration is the following excerpt from a poem I wrote in 2008.
Here come the skybreakers, god traders
renovating my culture to fit in an apartment box
with a flat screen and a flat nose
dressed in white with black book measles,
muskets and blankets
Flavour said ‘fight the power’
hand vs. knife,
knife vs. gun,
gun vs. bigger gun vs. bigger bomb, vs. bigger budget vs.
bigger dick, vs. nothing left to touch, feel, eat, see, or love
I who am
Must assimilate, replicate, dislocate,
shut the gate so the sheep don’t relocate
to Australia, where the tax rate is lower,
human rights is slower
I will return to her someday
I owe her
— Neil Ieremia
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation, Paradise Rumour will premiere at the Sharjah Biennial 15, UAE.