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FAFSWAG’s Biography

Last Updated:
28/09/2020, 10:25 pm
Interdisciplinary Arts
Arts Foundation Laureate 2020
FAFSWAG are creating new narratives that represent their communities, creating a connection amongst Pacific people navigating their unique identities within Aotearoa.

2020 Arts Foundation Laureate receiving the award for interdisciplinary arts

FAFSWAG was established in 2013 as an informal Queer arts collective from south Auckland. Responding to the lack of representation within the creative industries, the collective has come to redefine what it means to occupy a fluid sexuality & gender spectrum, a multi-cultural identity and a growing interdisciplinary practice.

As artists and activists FAFSWAG is committed to social change through arts and innovation, producing bespoke cultural activations that are cutting edge, culturally responsive and socially relevant. Operating across a multitude of interdisciplinary art forms and genres, FAFSWAG artists work collaboratively to activate public and digital space, speaking to our contexts as Queer Indigenous arts practitioners.

In 2017 FAFSWAG were selected as the company in residence at the Basement theatre and over the course of a year created three award winning shows, including Fa’aafa which has toured to BATS Theatre in 2018 and programmed in 2020 at the HAU in Berlin Germany. In the same year FAFSWAG was the artist in residence at Artspace Aotearoa and delivered a series of community occupations that saw the ‘Auckland Underground Vogue Scene’ take over the gallery, which was documented in the VICE global documentary of the same name, as well as their own Interactive documentary fafswagvogue.com.

The collective has since exhibited and performed around the world, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris France, Moku Pacific HQ in London, Emergency Gallery in Vevey Switzerland, Rotterdam International Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Toronto Canada, Asinabka Indigenous arts Festival in Ontario Canada, MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and in 2020 represented New Zealand at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney NIRIN.

Over the past seven years FAFSWAG have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of Aotearoa’s innovators and creative misfits, as well as some of the most exciting companies operating today. Apple, AIR New Zealand, RESN, VICE, The Discovery Channel, Les Mills, Neil and Liam Finn, COCOSOLID, and Taika Waititi and Carthew Neil’s production company PIKI Films.

FAFSWAG Cofounders Pati Solomona Tyrell and Tanu Gago continue to demonstrate Pacific excellence, with Tyrell being the youngest nominee for the Walters Prize in 2018 and Gago being awarded a Queen's Merit of Honour for services to the Arts and the Pasifika LGBTQIA+ community. The collective continues to pioneer Ballroom culture within Aotearoa connecting their communities to the arts, and the global Ballroom community. FAFSWAG is made up of so many talented individual artists that their collective impact can be felt throughout so many spaces in the creative landscape.

FAFSWAG artists include: Jermaine Dean, Falencie Filipo, Tanu Gago, Tapuaki Helu, Elyssia Wilson Heti, Nahora Ioane, Hōhua Ropate Kurene, Moe Laga-Toleafoa, Ilalio Loau, Tim Swann, Pati Solomona Tyrell, James Waititi.

Milestones & Awards