FAFSWAG was established in 2013 as an informal Queer art collective from south Auckland. Responding to the lack of representation within the creative industries, the collective has come to redefine what it means to occupy a fluid sexuality & gender spectrum, a multi-cultural identity and a growing interdisciplinary practice.
As artists and activists FAFSWAG is committed to social change through arts and innovation, producing bespoke cultural activations that are cutting edge, culturally responsive and socially relevant. Operating across a multitude of interdisciplinary art forms and genres, FAFSWAG artists work collaboratively to activate public and digital space, speaking to our contexts as Queer Indigenous arts practitioners.
In 2017 FAFSWAG were selected as the company in residence at the Basement theatre and over the course of a year created three award winning shows, including Fa’aafa which has toured to BATS Theatre in 2018 as part of the Wellington International Fringe Festival. In the same year FAFSWAG was the artist in residence at Artspace Aotearoa and delivered a series of community occupations that saw the ‘Auckland Underground Vogue Scene’ take over the gallery, which was documented in the VICE global documentary of the same name, as well as their own Interactive documentary fafswagvogue.com.
The collective has since exhibited and performed around the world, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris France, Moku Pacific HQ in London, Emergency Gallery in Vevey Switzerland, Rotterdam International Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Toronto Canada, Asinabka Indigenous arts Festival in Ontario Canada, MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and in 2020 represented New Zealand at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney NIRIN. In 2022 FAFSWAG presented Alteration, a mixed media archival exhibition across three separate sites in Kassel, Germany as part of Documenta 15.
While collective members Tanu Gago and Jermaine Dean launched their sculptural AR project entitled ATUA at the 2022 Sundance International Film Festival.
Over the past ten years FAFSWAG have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of Aotearoa’s innovators and creative misfits, as well as some of the most exciting companies operating today. Apple, AIR New Zealand, RESN, VICE, The Discovery Channel, Les Mills, Neil and Liam Finn, COCOSOLID, and Taika Waititi and Carthew Neil’s production company PIKI Films. The work of the artists has been continually supported by national funding bodies, Creative New Zealand, New Zealand on AIR, PANNZ and the Rei Foundation and the Rule Foundation.
FAFSWAG Cofounders Pati Solomona Tyrell and Tanu Gago continue to demonstrate Pacific excellence, with Tyrell being the youngest nominee for the Walters Prize in 2018 and Gago being awarded a Queen's Merit of Honour for services to the Arts and the Pasifika LGBTQIA+ community. Tyrell is the Creative New Zealand Emerging Pacific Artist award recipient and Gago the Creative New Zealand Contemporary Pacific artist recipient of 2021 respectively. In the same year FAFSWAG Arts Collective was awarded a New Zealand Arts Foundation, Arts Laureate Award for interdisciplinary arts practice; the first of its kind to be awarded in New Zealand.
The collective continues to pioneer Ballroom culture within Aotearoa connecting their communities to the arts, and the global Ballroom community. FAFSWAG is made up of so many talented individual artists that their collective impact can be felt throughout so many spaces in the creative landscape within New Zealand, Aotearoa to date.
FAFSWAG artists include: Jermaine Dean, Falencie Filipo, Tanu Gago, Tapuaki Helu, Elyssia Wilson Heti, Nahora Ioane, Moe Laga-Toleafoa, Tim Swann, Pati Tyrell, James Waititi.