“Sapos mi talem Rimix, bae mi talem olsem Yam. Yam hemi wan samting we i stap long taem, kakae we i stap long taem wetem yumi. Be sapos mi karem bak long tink tink blong Rimix, mi pulum aot yam ia, instead se mi mekem wan Laplap, mi mekem wan niufala kuk. Blong givim idea long wan nara wan se OK, wetem yam yu no se bae yumi mekem laplap nomo be, yu gat wan nara samting tu yu save mekem.” Marcel Meltherong, 2018
“If I want to explain Remix, I would say it’s like a Yam. Yam is something we have had a long time. But if I use yam to explain Remix, it is like I harvest a yam, but instead of making laplap (Vanuatu’s national dish), I use it to make a new kind of dish. To present the idea that with the things we are blessed with, like yams, we don’t just have to make laplap: we can make all kinds of things.” Marcel Meltherong, 2018
To Remix is to create. To recognise existing value and form, and innovate to make something new. It is part of how we take who and where we are and express ourselves, making and remaking culture with each creative action and each generation.
In Vanuatu neither the idea nor the practice of Remix is new. The tradition of borrowing and exchange is deeply rooted across these islands and waters. There is a long history in music and performance across Oceania of integrating influences from other cultural groups while keeping a repertoire of fixed elements, respecting spirit and ancestral values. The deep cultural rootedness of this process of borrowing and Remix allows each community, each individual, their own unique identities while integrating new elements and influences over time. As ethnomusicologist Monika Stern has observed, “renewal allows custom to live”.
The REMIX1 Exhibition weaves together 5 main threads. The first are objects loaned from the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (VKS), selected to show how Remix is a part of cultural adaptation of kastom in Vanuatu as circumstances, materials and markets have changed. The second and third threads are art works that showcase some of the history of Remix-style creative practice by ni-Vanuatu artists over the past decades, and works drawn from an open callout to artists in Port Vila and beyond to submit works on the theme of Remix.
The fourth thread are works made by three artists who participated in the first VKS Artists Access Project in 2018. Amelia Lovo, Derick Narsong Taleo and Marcel Meltherong undertook research in the VKS collections and archives for the creation of new art works shown here.
The fifth thread are performances on opening night, exploring Remix in music, dance, acrobatics and performance.
REMIX1 aims to start a conversation about process of creative Remix in arts in Vanuatu. It is part of project called Remix- Negotiating contemporary art and custom in Vanuatu, a collaboration between the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta; the Suzanne Bastien Foundation; Further Arts; the Australian National University’s (ANU) Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies and School of Regulation and Global Governance; and, the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
REMIX1 been co-curated by Maya Haviland, Daniel Owen, Marcel Meltherong, Lina Ariki and Kaitip Kami.