Léuli Eshrāghi (Sāmoa, born in Yuwi country, Australia; lives in Mparntwe / Alice Springs, Australia, and Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang / Montreal, Canada) is fascinated with languages, histories, and forms of knowledge discredited by colonialism and “militourism.” This neologism designates the pernicious reciprocal relations between the military and tourism industries, each propping up the existence and legitimacy of the other to the detriment of the bodies of Indigenous islanders and other racialized people, which both industries persist in apprehending as spaces to colonize. Combining performance, video, animation, writing, and installation, Eshrāghi renews futurities by reinstating them with Indigenous pleasures and identities. Their projects are aimed, among other things, at restoring marginalized voices, such as those of faʻafafine/faʻatama—people who identify as belonging to a third, or even a fourth, gender, or who have a non-binary role in Sāmoan culture—and healing Indigenous bodies, including their own.
- Yuwi country, Australia
- Countries / Nations
- Sāmoa, Yuwi country, Australia / Canada
- Mparntwe / Alice Springs, Australia, and Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang / Montreal, Canada
In the installation re(cul)naissance, Eshrāghi brings forth Fe’e, the octopus god of war of Sāmoan mythology. Here, Fe’e takes the form of a textile installation composed of wide bands of iridescent fabric upon which ancestral and contemporary motifs have been printed. Evoking the god’s tentacles, the bands hang down from the ceiling above a golden waterlily and a blue-neon ring glowing like a halo toward the sky. On the wall, words in French and Sāmoan are written out in neon letters. A video showing four people touching and caressing each other, performing gestures imbued with gentleness and tenderness, completes the installation. re(cul)naissance is articulated around a ceremony in which humans, animals, and nature come together to celebrate Indigenous kinships, along with the multiple genders, sexualities, and pleasures that they bear. By restoring respectful relationships with water, earth, light, bodies, and all living and non-living beings (real or imaginary) that inhabit the world, Eshrāghi honours practices, identities, and knowledge oppressed by colonialism and its extractivist vision. In this work, playing on the idea of rebirth, ia proposes new, sensitive avenues for addressing the future of fa’afafine, fa’atama, queer, trans, nonbinary, and other people, whose key roles in the intellectual and cultural life of a multiplicity of Indigenous kinship systems have been violently crushed.