Essay

The Single Object At Home Edition: Ie pili

I’ve stopped counting days this week. In between the rare pockets of productivity, I’ve found comfort in the small but important things in the house that I’ve been able to see anew. One of which includes this ie pili, a decorative Niuean bed sheet.

I received it some years ago, as part of a Christmas gift from my partner. I won’t lie, I was grateful but equally perplexed as I’d presumed that ie pili were gifted during ceremonial events or passed down through families. Suffice to say, my interest was piqued and on went the curatorial brain. I needed to know every detail leading up to the decision of this gift so my long-suffering partner gave me the full break down: He explained his rationale around the selection of materials from different stores in Ōtahuhu and Ōtara, to the development of his loose design and then how it was sewed together by a woman at his family church.

As it turns out, this woman was Mama Peia from the Newton Kuki Airani Vainetini Tuitui, who I would connect with as part of Ani O’Neill’s installation Promise Me/Trust Me for The Room exhibition at Objectspace. I can’t believe that exhibition opened around this time last year. I love thinking back to that moment when I look at the ie pili.

Although ie pili is used mostly in summer, I brought it out to counter the especially dull days. It usually lives on the couch and this morning it provided much warmth as I watched the Les Mills Body Attack Class on TV and ate a brownie for breakfast.

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Ane Tonga is an artist, curator and writer of Tongan descent. She was recently appointed as the inaugural  curator Pacific art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Her research interests are focused on contemporary Pacific art and curatorial practice, lens-based practices and indigenous feminisms. 

Ie pili

Ane Tonga and Ie pili