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Shifting the Shape of Stories

This is the third of four conversations for the Forever Fresh Talanoa Series produced in collaboration with Contemporary HUM.

We listen in to Skawennati, Michel Mulipola and Solomon Enos talanoa in virtual space about the shapeshifting and innovation of indigenous story telling. This series continues with a written response by writer and curator Ioana Gordon-Smith

Following on from our 2021 talanoa series, this is the third video in a new round of recorded conversations between tagata Moana (Māori and Pasifika people) from around the globe. Alongside each episode released by the Collective, HUM publishes a written response by writer and curator Ioana Gordon-Smith.

In this new episode, ‘Shifting the Shape of Stories’, visual artists Michel Mulipola (Sāmoa/Aotearoa), Skawennati (Turtle Island) and Solomon Enos (Hawai’i) discuss the importance of shapeshifting, imagination and innovation in Indigenous storytelling, and in their respective practices.

Click the link in below to read Gordon-Smith's text, titled 'New Kinds of Tomorrow'!


Michel Mulipola is a Sāmoan comic book artist, professional wrestler, Tekken personality and Story Artist & Cultural Consultant for Disney Animation Studios based in Māngere, Tāmaki Makaurau in Aotearoa. He has illustrated works for the NZ School Journals, Marvel trading cards, WWE comic books and also co-created the first ever Sāmoan language comic - O Le Aiga Samoa. As a pro wrestler, he is a former NZ Heavyweight Champion and current NZ Tag Team Champion for Impact Pro Wrestling.

Comics, wrestling, video games and animation - all the things Michel loved as a kid, he gets to do as an adult and get paid for it. He's the personification of 'Living the Dream.'

Solomon Robert Nui Enos is a Native Hawaiian artist, illustrator, and visionary. Born and raised in Makaha Valley (O‘ahu, Hawai‘i), Solomon hails from the well-known Enos ‘ohana. Solomon has been making art for more than 30 years and he is adept at artistic expression in a wide variety of media including oil paintings, book illustrations, murals, and game design. A self-described “Possibilist” Solomon’s art expresses an informed aspirational vision of the world at its best via contemporary and traditional art that leans towards Sci-Fi and Fantasy. His work touches on themes like collective-consciousness, ancestry and identity, our relationship with our planet, and all through the lens of his experience as a person indigenous to Hawai’i.

Solomon has exhibited in Biennial X (Honolulu Museum of Art), 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Queensland Art Gallery), CONTACT art exhibitions, and others. His work is held in private collections and in the public collections of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Hawai'i State Art Museum. He has led numerous community mural projects and has received art commissions for hotels, corporate offices, public buildings, and schools in Hawai'i. His latest works include murals and augmented-reality installations for Google and Disney.


Skawennati investigates history, the future, and change from her perspective as an

urban Kanien’kehá:ka woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her machinimas, still images,

textiles and sculpture have been presented internationally and collected by the National

Gallery of Canada, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal and the Thoma

Foundation, among others.

Recipient of a 2022 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions Grant and an Honorary Doctorate

from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she is also a founding board member of

daphne, Montreal’s first Indigenous artist-run centre. She co-directs Aboriginal

Territories in Cyberspace, a research-creation network based at Concordia University,

where she received her BFA. Originally from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati

resides in Montreal. She is represented by ELLEPHANT.

Ioana Gordan-Smith

Ioana Gordon-Smith is a Sāmoan/Pākehā arts writer and curator living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Across her work is a commitment to Moana arts practices and their histories. She has held roles at Artspace Aotearoa, Objectspace and Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, and currently works as the Curator Māori Pacific at Pātaka Art + Museum. Ioana is the Assistant Curator of Yuki Kihara: Paradise Camp, the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, and co-curator of the international Indigenous triennial, Naadohbii: To Draw Water in Winnipeg, Canada. She is also the co-founder and co-editor of Marinade: Aotearoa Journal of Moana Art and a trustee for Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. As well as writing for art journals, magazines and exhibition catalogues, Ioana has contributed to publications produced by Thames & Hudson, Routledge, ARP Books and Te Papa Press.

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