Loose Canons: Akashi Fisiinaua
Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.
Akashi Fisiinaua is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the arts collective FAFSWAG (winners of Best Body of Work at the Auckland Theatre Awards 2017). Also known for her work within the Auckland Vogue ballroom scene as the chanter MC Queen Kapussi fka (formerly known as) Boyinadress, she made her directorial and choreographic debut last year with the sold-out Basement show FEMSLICK. Her video series in collaboration with Jermaine Dean, B14CK 2H4K71, has been showcased at CoCA Christchurch and Blackdot Gellery Melbourne. With FAFSWAG, she collaborated with Auckland City Council for Make Space: The Visibility Project, an indigenous queer/trans live projection within the CBD for Pride 2017. Akashi's work is an immersive digital and IRL exploration on the politics of space in relationship to her body. It's about taking control, body sovereignty and self defense. She explores empowerment through vogue and martial arts practices in conversation with her Tongan culture, but still rooted within her context of being a first generation immigrant from Tonga flexing in western world.
Akashi makes her return to the Basement with the project XHROME XHRYSALIS, a curatorial night packed with fashion, actiVAtions, Music, DJ sets, performance art and digital installations. XHROME XHRYSALIS operates within an Indigenous framework and is about carving out space within the CBD for queer/trans Indigenous people of different diasporas for Pride, where they are digitally, sonically and aesthetically realised and represented!
Today FAFSWAG also launch their interactive documentary in collaboration with Piki Films and RESN.
In preparation for XHROME XHRYSALIS I draw inspiration from the work of Venus X, the founder of the movement called GHE20G0THIC in New York. All her interviews and DJ sets I would consume religiously, because that sort of culture-building she instigated in New York was something I was hoping to build here with this project.
I started to think of the number of ways in which we are programming meaningful culture for ourselves here, as a way of building a self-sufficient ecosystem that doesn’t externally look outwards for support but inwards to its own resource pool. It's a way drawing from and building the social networks and structures for things to thrive and flourish. I started to think of the work of FAFSWAG and how we as a collective very much operate like this within our own immediate community which is our friends and family and then outside of that into the Polynesian LGBTQI+ community with the Vogue Balls and the Fonos. And how under the banner of corporate patriarchy we’re shifting these power structures, or outdated modes of operating and shifting the power back into ourselves and our practices. This is a conversation around resource (or the lack thereof) and the distribution of it. It's also about access and mobilisation of intellectual property and product in a commercial environment so that we’re also making a profit from the things that we’re generating. That's why I draw so much from Venus X – where the mechanisms of groundwork operation, infiltration and disruption are seen but also felt in a very tangible way.
For those of you who don’t know, Tanu Gago is the founding member of the collective FAFSWAG and is the backbone of majority of the projects that have come out of the collective. He's the producer for the Auckland Theatre Award-winning projects FEMSLICK, FA'AAFA and NEON BOOTLEG, and the director of our interactive documentary (launching today from FAFSWAG x Piki Films). He's also a featured artist and the producer of XHROME XHRYSALIS.
A lot of Tanu's work up until now has been behind the scene with the Vogue Balls with his partner Pati Solomona Tyrell. He hates it when he's in the spotlight. SHAME, I’m putting you front and centre bitch. He is such an instigator! And I mean that in all the best possible sense. There's this weird thing that happens when you’re writing about your friends, and how much they have influenced who you are as a business woman, but also as a person, that is kinda cute. But also it's weird in a way, because I realised up until now I’ve never had such engaging friendships with anyone else (aside from my only friend upon graduating Toi Whakaari, Virgo Summers aka Jasper Powell) that are within a collaborative and working framework, but also just as girls! It's not weird to say that so many of the mechanisms that go into my work – hustling, understanding the nuances on which this industry is built, and the countering of popular pacific narratives that seem to be rapant in mainstream media – have been out of the conversations I’ve had with this bissh!
There is a crispness and a calculated sharp edge in the way my sis operates within any space that makes me want to fight even harder, to be even on top of my game. And my sis doesn’t fucking play around. I am excited for the future with this bish, by the rose water and the weapon artillery going into the future. Guns out. Cunts out!
“Its all about self-love, loving thy body, passion, self-defense, dreaming big and minding your own fucking business and if you follow the rules you too can have this body”
These were the words I first heard outta this Brooklyn native’s voice the first time I heard her spit. And from that day on it totally changed me as a practitioner, an artist and as a working woman tryna pave her way through this maze. These very words shaped my practice and my way of life. And they were the very words that instigated the thematics for the very first ball I threw in Auckland CBD – The Body Ball, which was a commentary on the 30th Anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform bill, but also a night to celebrate and uplift pacific queer/trans brown bodies in Aotearoa. I am paying homage to Jay Boogie aka Miss Boogie because her album MY H.O.E – My Health Over Everything was a catalyst for all the internal and external changes that I had to make to take back control of my life, which was spiraling into a dark pit after graduating, where I had NOTHING! I had to try refigure who the fuck I was because for the longest time I had been running away from the truth and had not been in control of my own narrative.
The tracks in the album MY H.O.E where fighting anthems for me. They were mantras. What I would listen to in the morning when I started my workouts, on public transport from yoga to the ball, to work, as a way of centering into my body before I move.
“Don’t watch what I bench press / my workouts clocked tight tens / squat game be so intense / tiny waist with a fat brain / this body bang got tens / this body don’t got friends / my last friend fucked my best friend now I’m delivered I don’t fuck mens / No pain baby no gain / this lightning couldn’t be tamed, Peruvian when I rock manes always dressed for the hunger games. ’
I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent proximity with this light worker within a collaborative capacity and in a kiki kinda way. Everything she touches turns to a cute ride, the kinda ride that you need outta this stratosphere, the kind of ride that will sharp turn, no need to indicate on the boring and mundane urban landscape in Aotearoa. She's a bad mamacita who manoeuvres herself, gives chills to whoever in the wings tryna peep the secrets so that makes her THAT bissch! For real tho. To the forward-thinking, to the experimental nature of this chameleon and subtle but very matchstrike infiltration and instigation she’s been doing within an industry and community capacity which is soo jaw dropping, and her work speaks for itself. I’m always so thirsty for deeper experiences and connections with similar-minded artists in my life, something non refundable, that you can’t purchase like a bootleg Chanel I can take home and vogue down with. And it has always been from the conversations, interactions I’ve had with Coco Solid, that have made me go harder on the mic, bigger with my strides and lighter with my hi’s and byes. Cuz tbh sometimes its really not that DEEP!
Nothing ever is on the DL with her, and I’m so thankful for the laughs and the moments of clairvoyance. I’m literally listening to Cakes Da Killa while writing this, and as you can tell by the format its very much that cunt look that ya girlfriend wants but can’t, cuz the supplier is Cokes Da kiki Solid and shits deeper than a Birkin Bag in this instance. Aka COCO SOLID. WUSGOOD!
Coco Solid's mixtape, lowkey hextape, titled COKES drops and launches this Waitangi Day Feburary 6th.
“FAFSWAG WUHH AHH!”
This is pretty self-explanatory. I mean what else do I say. BUT THANK YOU AND LETS GET IT!
XHROME XHRYSALIS takes over the Basement on Saturday 10 February. Get your tickets here.
Watch FAFSWAG's interactive documentary here.