Mr Manu

Edith AMITUANAI (b.1980)
See full details


c-type photograph, framed
900x 1050mm
Ngā Puhipuhi o Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, purchased 2019
Accession number
This photograph by artist Edith Amituanai is one of a set of five large-scale colour photographs in a series depicting professional rugby players of Pasifika descent and the homes they are leaving or have left to take up contracts to play in Europe. She made this body of work with funds provided by the Marti Friedlander Photography Award she received in 2007, which enabled her to travel to Europe for the first time. The photograph depicts rugby player Carl Manu in his family home in Christchurch just before he took up his contract to play professionally in France. We see him among his family’s collection of photographs and memorabilia that proudly document their talented son’s sporting prowess.

Though capturing the lives and environments specific to Pacific people, who have relocated from their island homes to New Zealand and around the globe, for the promise of economic and educational betterment, this photograph draws on the Western tradition of portraiture, where individuals are depicted with the wealth they have accumulated. Here, however, ‘wealth’ is redefined, not as material riches but through the array of family occasions and successes the picture chronicles. 'Déjeuner', the series title, also references the famous picnic scene depicted by French artist Édouard Manet, 'Déjeuner sur l’herbe' (1862-63). Amituanai appropriated the French word for ‘lunch’ in response to one of the players telling her that what he missed most about playing in France was his grandmother’s Sunday togai (lunch). A fascinating reminder of the complexities of defining ‘home’, this series was singled out as a finalist for New Zealand’s premier art prize: Auckland Art Gallery’s Walters Prize, soon after it was first presented at Anna Miles Gallery in Auckland in 2008.

My shortlist

Related highlights