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“Talking to the Ancestors” Exhibition Officially Opened

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Dr Giulio Paunga, the University’s Vice-President (Regional Campuses and Estates and Infrastructure), addresses the guests during the opening.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) has officially opened its “Talking to the Ancestors” Exhibition, which will be open to the public for a month from 19 March – 20 April 2018.

This multimedia exhibition that features over 500 photographs spanning five (5) decades of service to the region, presents a rare insight into the communal albums of USP by providing current members of the University including students, staff, alumni, stakeholders and the wider community, a look back and across time. 

The exhibit celebrates the rich legacy and heritage of the region’s premier tertiary institution through a visual ethnography reviewing the cultural landscape and community evolution at USP.

The University narrative of diversity and solidarity is viewed through important milestone events and development achievements.

In opening the exhibition on 16 March, Dr Giulio Paunga, the University’s Vice-President (Regional Campuses and Estates and Infrastructure), said that the exhibition is part of USP’s 50th Anniversary initiative highlighting its achievements and reflecting on opportunities for further growth and future direction.

This exhibition, Dr Paunga said, is the second major event in the OCACPS’s anniversary schedule and during the University’s graduation, an anniversary song will be launched to complement the original University song composed in 1975 by the then Director of Extension Services Mr Tuala Falenaoti Tiresa Malietoa.

The Vice-President thanked the organisers for this significant contribution to the 50th Anniversary celebrations and called on everyone to enjoy the opportunity to reminisce and reflect on the journey so far and the wide horizons ahead.

In curating this exhibit, the research team reviewed over 10,000 samples of photographs, newspaper articles, videos, event flyers, books and artworks.

Dr Frances Cresantia Koya, Director of OCACPS Heritage Hub and lead curator said that the Exhibition is all about honouring the past and those who have come before us.

“It is paying homage to those who have contributed to the University growth over the last 50 years and it is about taking stock of our position, our relevance and our future directions,” Dr Koya said.

She felt that the exhibition should represent both an ethnographic and artistic standpoint. Using this lens the team made some observations in relation to the art of photography in particular.

Dr Koya mentioned that in the 1960s through to the 1980s, there were clean and focused activity and action snapshots which provide a critical documentary archive for the University.

Moving on, she added that from the 2000s, they noticed the influence of digital media.

“The quality of images is different. The colours may be more vibrant but the art of photography has clearly shifted,” Dr Koya noted.

She added that it is evident that the days of old when every photo counted and costed to print meant purposeful focused creativity whereas the digital age of instantaneous gratification means that one captures every moment regardless and the due attention to detail and care is not always the priority.

Dr Koya emphasised that the team learnt a lot about USP, its member countries, and the region and have also learnt about their leaders and those visionaries who have shaped the University journey.

Dr Frances Cresantia Koya, Director of OCACPS Heritage Hub and lead curator, during her address

Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) highlighted that such an Exhibition portrays what the University was like during that time with people, programmes, activities, dress even hairstyle and how we have shifted from then to now; what will it be like 50 years from now.

She added that a lot has been accomplished back in those days, and we can only thank our ancestors for the sacrifice and work they have done.

Mr Winston Thompson, University’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council said that the Exhibition is very stimulating, and reminds people that the continuity of the heritage hub is deep and that there is a need to nurture it to keep it alive.

Mr Thompson added that the public will get to appreciate that there is symbolism in this Exhibition and acknowledged the work of the curators for their hard work in setting it up.

The Exhibition is in three (3) parts: in the main gallery the University journey from 1968 through to 2018 is showcased and ends with the curator’s choice.

In the adjacent space there is a designated section for the member countries and campuses which leads out into an art and culture at USP and OCACPS in celebration not only of USP’s 50th Anniversary but OCACPS 21st Anniversary as well.

The “Talking to Ancestors” Exhibition is open to public viewing for a month.

This news item was published on 21 Mar 2018 12:48:10 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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