I am enough, Luisa Tora, 2014, Collection of Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira, EPH-2017-7.



"I am enough. You are enough. We are enough. Enough. Enough. Enough. A mantra for LGBTQI+ communities to chant, hold on to, repeat in the mirror daily. We are blessed if we receive this reaffirmation from family and friends. Most of the time we have to draw on ourselves and our communities for emotional and psychological support. I made this poster for an LGBTQI+ audience who might see this poster as they walked the corridors of the Faculty of Creative Arts or passed the installation at Fresh Gallery Ōtara. A quiet word of support in a busy heteronormative world."

This poster by artist Luisa Tora was part of I Stand with You, an exhibition curated by Luisa and Tara Simon in 2014, when the two were visual arts majors at the Manukau Institute of Technology. Conceived of in response to the 2014 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia theme “Freedom of Expression,” the exhibition was a collaborative project with 15 queer artists who, either individually or collaboratively, created an artwork in the form of a poster in response to this theme. 13 posters were created and featured in the exhibition which was shown at the Faculty of Creative Arts, M.I.T., at Fresh Gallery Otara, and at the Auckland Council Rainbow Door artist panel.

 

Selecting ‘the poster’ as a medium was a very deliberate choice for Luisa and Tara. Although ubiquitous, the humble poster is a powerful tool that has always been a vital part of protest and activism. Even in the digital age, they have not lost their potency. They are portable billboards, allowing us to speak up, to resist, to show solidarity. The posters created for I Stand with You reflect this - each speaking to individual truths but imbued with community and whanau. This is at the heart of Luisa’s poster - the bold black text on a bright yellow background says: I am visible. I am claiming space for myself and for my community.

 

This sense of visibility and community was important within the exhibition’s context at MIT too. The project generated conversations across generations and highlighted the obvious - that queer experience is not a monolith. This is reflected in the words Luisa shared about the project:

 

The project was very interesting. One staff member had been at MIT 20 odd years and he was quite emotional about the project. He said it was the first time he felt a sense of community at MIT. I forget sometimes that we all came through different times. While some younger queer people are more tech-savvy and aware of services, others aren't. I guess a project like this is a good time and space to take stock of the textured experiences of our immediate group of friends and colleagues and to be grateful to be 1. alive and well, 2. to have friends and colleagues such as these, 3. to have the opportunity to have our stories and art acknowledged and included in Tāmaki and Aotearoa's archival collections.”

 

In 2018, we acquired all 13 posters from I Stand with You - these now reside in the ephemera collection at Tāmaki Paenga Hira. Alongside we also collected blurbs provided by each artist on their works - their voices helping to ensure that those “textured experiences” take their place (and take up space) within the permanent history of our city.

Luisa’s current mahi includes being a member of The Veiqia Project  - “a creative research collection of female Fijian artists inspired by veiqia, the traditional art of Fijian female tattoo.”
Check out @veiqia to follow the Collective’s work.



Words by Nina Finigan, Curator Manuscripts, Documentary Heritage.