• Jasmine Togo-Brisby
Gallery Information

Mother Tongue is a recent work by Jasmine Togo-Brisby, researched in 2019 during her time as the Tautai/Dunedin School of Art artist in residence and later filmed on location at Kōputai, Port Chalmers. The work focusses on the former slave-ship known as the Don Juan, which now lies as a wreck in Deborah Bay, Kōputai.

As a fourth generation Australian South Sea Islander, with ancestral lineage to the islands of Ambae and Santo of Vanuatu, Togo-Brisby’s work is deeply engaged in the history and impacts of the South Pacific slave-trade. As a known Blackbirding ship, the anniversary of the Don Juan’s 1863 arrival into Brisbane continues to be observed by the Australian South Sea Islander community.[1]

In Mother Tongue three generations of South Sea Islander women - mother, daughter and granddaughter - enact a blessing upon the Don Juan. As its timbers are lapped by the incoming tide, Togo-Brisby’s work tenderly negotiates a space between the physical remains of this vessel and its implications for generations impacted by slavery, violence and indentured labour.

[1] Blackbirding is a term used for the coercion or kidnapping of labourers, commonly referring to the taking of people from the Pacific in the 19th and early 20th century.

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  • Dunedin, 9016