Taloi Havini lives and works in Brisbane, AU

 

Taloi Havini’s practice considers ideas around the production and transmission of knowledge in pre- and postcolonial Melanesia. Archival research and collaboration are hallmarks of Havini’s oeuvre, her exploration of economic and industrial narratives, human rights abuse, and environmental destruction exposing deep fault lines that resonate in the present.

Havini was born in Arawa, the former capital of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in the Pacific Ocean, and relocated to Australia with her family during the Bougainville Civil War (1988–98). Encompassing film, photography, sound, and object making, her works reflect themes of exile and return, embodied experience and matrilineal ties to place. Interweaving the personal and communal, they foreground oral history, memory, storytelling, and the role of language (specifically the Hakö language).

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Taloi Havini, Beroana (Shell money) IV, 2016, stoneware, earthenware, clear glaze, steel wire, dimensions variable, courtesy Collection Sharjah Art Foundation, Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Bowen Hills, Queensland © Taloi Havini, photo: © Sharjah Art Foundation Collection

Beroana (Shell Money) IV (2016) refers to a longstanding system of trade and exchange used in many parts of the world, including the Pacific Islands. More than just a form of currency, like a banknote, shell money has historically deep social and cultural associations; it is used as gifts at births, deaths, marriages, and celebrations and as reparation payments. Its production, moreover, represents the effort of women working communally, grinding shells and stringing them into lengths of great beauty and significance.

Made from stoneware, earthenware, porcelain, and glaze, Havini’s work comprises hundreds of discs strung along a vast, suspended spiral of wire. An exercise in precision, repetition, and care, its coloration shifts from earthy brown to ivory white. Delicate yet commanding, it upends notions of the museum artifact and instead reclaims the enduring, vibrant sociality of communal exchange.

Rachel Kent

Exhibitions

This Language That is Every Stone, 2022, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (AU)

Un/Learning Australia, 2021, SeMA – Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (KR)

Taloi Havini – Reclamation, 2020, Artspace Sydney, Sydney (AU) (solo)

Dhaka Art Summit: Seismic Movements, 2020, Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka (BD)

Transits and Returns, 2019, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver (CN)

Habitat, 2017, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (FR) (solo)