our islands

"Our island life has changed. Before, we used to be fishermen, fisherwomen, we (Tiwi People) still do our hunting and stuff like that, but now we've been so modernised. We forgot to have a day to ourselves, a spiritual day to ourselves" says Crystal Love. 

Wurrumiyanga's popular take-away shop, in front of one of the largest supermarkets. The establishment is managed by a Filipino on a working visa. In the shop, Filipino and Tiwi staff serve Filipino dishes and fast food. Garbage from the establishment is scattered outside.

“Who runs a farm with just five men?” farm manager Richard Portamini asks rhetorically.

Turakirae Head Scientific Reserve - a geological site near Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Minjerrabah; tourist

destination and sand mining hub.

What does life look like on different islands? That's the simple and perhaps naive question that started my research about islands as particular geographic and social spaces. I worked around the idea of "re-imagining and re-imaging island life" as a response to a narrative created by western academics, tourism, and policy with a skewed view on island cultures.

I was partly raised on Bantayan Island in central Philippines, where my parents and extended family continue to live. I know and lived the geography of this island. I know its isolation and connection to neighboring islands. When there is a storm, vegetables and fruit are scarce and more expensive since these are all imported. Traveling back and forth over the years, I’ve seen escalating social, economic and environmental issues despite efforts for development .  

 

When I moved to Australia in 2014, I wanted to find out more about environmental and social issues on islands in the region. I wanted to know how their experiences compared to Bantayan

Island. We are, after all, distant neighbors.

My visits to the Tiwi Islands, Minjerrabah and Aotearoa in 2016 added a new perspective to familiar issues. I've become more aware of issues around diaspora, colonialism, power structures, and different perceptions of development. But I've also become more aware of my role and presence in this work, and my approach as a visiting artist. 

 

While early work was more exploratory, I've since started working more investigative, focusing on specific issues. My current work focusing on human intervention and environmental commodification builds on this initial documentary work.  

 

Research with a focus on economic, environmental and social or cultural links between the Philippines, Oceania, South East Asia, and the Pacific continues through DAKOgamay. 

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