Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival – Oceania Now

CPAF_Francis Santos_Malianive SeilerNow in its third year, the annual Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival (CPAF) continues to grow in partnership with Footscray Community Arts Centre and returns to Melbourne’s west from 9 – 11 April 2015 to explore Oceania Now – the spiritual, physical, cultural and political dimensions of contemporary Pacific identity today.

Showcasing multidisciplinary contemporary islander artists and celebrating the culture from Pacific diaspora communities in Australia, CPAF features a range of exhibitions, workshops and performances spanning art, design, film, dance, spoken word and literature and alongside the CPAF Symposium and the CPAF Community Day.

CPAF director, Lia Pa’apa’a, explains that the festival engages artists at all levels of practice from across Australia and overseas, “We are championing and celebrating all aspects of Pacific culture and allow a range of diverse communities to engage with our contemporary Pacific arts practice. Our theme this year – Oceania Now – honours the past and is a forum to author the future.“

The CPAF Symposium is a highlight of the festival program and it brings together creative practitioners, community elders, students, academics and arts industry professionals whose work engages with the contemporary Pacific in a two-­day forum.

South Auckland based curator, writer, arts manager, advocate and director of PIMPI – Ema Tavola will provide the keynote presentation at the CPAF Symposium on Curating Pacific Spaces: Oceania and the White Cube and the other panel discussions will focus on: curating the Pacific: Museum and gallery collections and contexts; Indigenous cultural and intellectual property; climate change: Pacific art and activation; community and cultural development with Pacific communities; and entrepreneurialism in Pacific arts.

Launching at the opening of CPAF, Pacific Photobooks is an exciting photographic project that brings together photographers and Pacific Islander young people (aged 15-­25) exploring the notions of photography practice, storytelling and self-­publishing.

The recipient of the inaugural Aunty Sana Balai Creative Excellence Award will also be announced at the CPAF opening – recognising key contributions in the advancement of the Australian-­Pacific arts sector.

Aunty Sana (Susan) Balai was born on Buka Island, Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and began her museum career in the Indigenous department at Melbourne Museum (1997-2002), which led to her current role at the National Gallery of Victoria as Assistant Curator, Indigenous Arts with Art of the Pacific.

The CPAF Community Day will take over the entire grounds of the Footscray Community Arts Centre including a concert curated by MC Trey Thelma Thomas-­Lesianawai (MC Trey) and featuring headline artist: Radical Son (a vocalist with a unique ability to deliver as a soul singer, rapper and spoken word artist); the Pasifika Fashion Parade; exhibitions in the Roslyn Smorgon Gallery and FCAC Gabriel Gallery; a marketplace featuring Pacific stalls; and an array of live art demonstrations and workshops.

Throughout the festival there will be spectacular evening performances at the CPAF Fiafia Bar featuring a Pacific collision of island culture, dance, song and circus curated by Samoan-­Australian aerial circus artist Natano Fa’anana.

The 2015 Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival – Oceania Now runs 9 – 11 April. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: Francis Santos – photo by Malianive Seiler