A picture can tell a thousand words or it can speak just one.
It can evoke emotion, conjure memories, transport you to a distant location, or make you feel a certain way. Such is the power of an image!
Vivienne is a New Zealand photographer and writer with a long-time practice spanning both fine-art photography and editorial assignments for a wide range of noted New Zealand publications and earlier years spent as a weaving and textile artist. Early studies in weaving, photography and graphic design were interspersed with the births of three children. Full-time photography studies at Unitec in the early 90’s, under tutors such as senior photographers Fiona Pardington and Haruhiko Sameshima, resulted in an AGFA Scholarship for outstanding work.
Vivienne's best-known photographs chronicle the Pacific Sisters, one of Aotearoa’s most influential Māori and Pacifika artistic and fashion collectives of the 90’s. The collective are an integral part of New Zealand’s indigenous and mainstream art history, an ever-evolving group working collaboratively across fashion, performance, music, and film. Her Pacific Sisters: He Toa Tāera | Fashion Activists series, completed after her graduation, has latterly made a mark in New Zealand’s leading art institutions, exhibited at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington (2018) and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2019), with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki acquiring the exhibited suite of her lightboxes for the permanent collection.
The artist’s self-described “organic journey” of documenting the Sisters began with an introduction from performance artist Mika, and soon after, a commission from John Draper to shoot the Sisters. Working closely with the collective over a period of time in friendly collaborative creativity resulted in images of striking intimacy and emotional weight. Shot around Auckland in locations ranging from Point Chevalier Beach to the Karangahape Road sex shops, Haldane stayed in touch with the sisters over the years and they “often lamented the fact that these photos had never seen the light of day”, Draper’s Glo magazine having never been published. The images didn’t surface until Nina Tonga contacted the Sisters for the Te Papa exhibition, leading to the inclusion of Haldane’s photographs as an integral part of the Pacific Sisters retrospective at Te Papa Tongarewa.
Vivienne credits a number of key photographic influences, in particular Duane Michals for his photo sequences, Joel Meyerowitz, Lee Miller, Dorothea Lange, and Elliot Erwitt, as well as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and the new wave of 90’s fashion photography / music. Her authentically tender portraits are all her own, however. Following the critical success and acclaimed institutional reception of Pacific Sisters, Vivienne is currently shifting away from editorial work and focusing on her fine-art photography.
Haldane lives and works in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
About the images:
Noted for their inclusion as large-scale lightboxes in the critically acclaimed Pacific Sisters: He Toa Tāera | Fashion Activists at Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (2018) and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2019), the suite of lightboxes entered the permanent collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. This exhibition includes the original images alongside a broader selection from the Pacific Sisters material, shown for the first time as a body of work of limited edition photographs, hand-printed silver gelatin photographs with selenium toning.
The black and white photographs are at once striking and unpretentious, inviting the viewer into the world of the Sisters with a vulnerable authenticity. A combination of close-up portraits and more theatrical staged shots showcase the vibrant energy of the interior world of the collective, as they inhabited spaces ranging from art galleries to nightclubs. In the words of Ani O’Neill, a member of the Sisters and prominent New Zealand artist, “we might seem a bit hardcore and serious to some, but we have a lot of fun – we like to laugh and play with words as well as frocks”. Vivienne's arresting portraits capture this duality of both emotional honesty and edge.
Nina Tonga, curator of Pacific Sisters at Te Papa says of the Sisters, “they were a generation of artists creating their own form of creative expression”, an ever-evolving group working collaboratively across fashion, performance, music, and film.
Check out my fine art prints portfolio. Or, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a project in mind.Make Enquiry
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