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'Asiasi II', 2000

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2001-0032-1  Asiasi II

This is a large, freestanding tin-and-copper sculpture in the shape of an articulated fish, created by artist Michel Tuffery in 2000. (For notes on the significance of this resource go to 'metadata record' at the end of this description and see the 'educational value' section). The sculpture is made from fish tins and pieces of recycled copper riveted together and covered in polyurethane. The mouth is hinged and opens to reveal the inside belly of the fish, which can be used as a fish smoker. The sculpture measures 250 cm x 100 cm x 60 cm.

Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Educational value:
  • 'Asiasi II', which means 'yellowfin' and refers to the yellowfin tuna or 'Thunnus albacares', comments on how canned fish is now replacing fresh local fish within the Pasifika diet - although Tuffery has used herring tins in the sculpture, the work is largely about the impact of the overfishing of all edible species throughout the Pacific Islands.
  • The sculpture comments on the fact that overfishing has caused Samoans and many other Pacific Island communities to rely on imported, canned foods to supplement their diet, which has in turn affected their local economies and greatly increased their reliance on other nations - the sculpture raises questions about the effects of globalisation and foreign intervention on Pacific Island communities and whether these encourage independence or actually foster dependency.
  • Michel Tuffery is a Polynesian artist who was born in New Zealand in 1966 to a Samoan mother and a European father, and has Cook Island and Tahitian ancestry - he uses a number of different media in his artworks, which include prints, posters, woodcuts, lithographs, sculpture, set designs and performance pieces; explaining his reasons for working in many media, Tuffery comments 'I'm fascinated by everything I see around me. I like to have a go, interpret how I see things, because if you don't try you'll never know' (from an interview with Michel Tuffery in Mallon and Pereira, eds, 'Speaking in colour', Te Papa Press, 1997).
  • Some of Tuffery's work is highly political, such as his anti-driftnet series and his sculpture 'Pisupo lua afe' (Corned beef 2000), which combines the art of recycling with a light-hearted and ironic comment on the value of colonial economics.

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