Fale-ship: Sione Faletau


Geometric forms, mesmerising movement and a neon glow. Sione presents the Tongan worldview in an exciting and fresh way, digitally exploring the semiotics of sound in his work. With a focus on Tongan values and concepts, Sione translates the intangible into unique sonic visualisations that utilise the kupesi (patterns) of his culture.

“My name is Sione Faletau I am of Tongan descent. I am from the villages of Taunga and Lakepa in Tonga. My art practice is multidisciplinary, and I have many strands I can utilize to explore ideas through the mediums of performance, video, drawing, sculpture, and installation. But as of late my art practice has moved more into the digital realm where I work digitally to explore semiotics of soundscape and design. Creating kupesi (patterns) from audio wave spectrums of sound. This form of data or information gives me material I can manipulate to become kupesi. Much like how tufunga manipulate material to create their art.” 

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Kupesi Fatongia, 2021

During his Fale-ship Sione created two works, each the explores different Tongan concepts one looks at his everyday life and the fatongia (responsibility) to his family and the tauhi vā (nurturing of relationships) that takes place within the home. The second work explores the Tongan concept of ongo (sound) and its connection to loto (heart).  

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“In this work I had taken the audio recordings of making my daughters coco pops in the morning. Extracting the audio wave spectrum giving me sound as a material I can create kupesi from. For this piece I was looking at the everyday rituals that occur and the fatongia I have to my daughter as a father. Fatongia in the Tongan language means obligation or responsibilities. In the process of making this work I thought of this as time and space, shared with my daughter, making her cereal in the kitchen, and marking time through interaction that we have in this space. Zoning into the sounds we created occupying the space made me realize the everyday routines can be made into something unique and special. It made me think of the vā (space) and the Tongan concept of tauhi vā or the nurturing of relationships. In this act or fatongia to my daughter by simply making her favorite cereal coco pops I am nurturing the vā or space between myself and my daughter by playing my role as a father to her providing for her and feeding her.”

Overtone of Nafa Exploration, 2021 

Utilizing the Tongan concept of ongo meaning sound, hearing, and feeling which is connected to the loto meaning inside, desire and heart I see these entities as inseparable, and they all have a hand in creating each other. Using sound to create feeling and from feeling to create sound I found these instances interesting and exploring and experimenting with these concepts I can see develop into a larger body of works

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“Exploring the resonance of water and lali produced ongo fakafa‘ahikehe, the minor sound which was an interesting aspect in this part of the residency. It has brought forth another layer to the reality we live in and how sound plays an important role in nature and society. I look to further develop these works. I am grateful for the Tautai Faleship residency in giving me time and space to explore these new nuances and strands within my art practice.”


Check out Sione’s highlight video as he reflects on his 
Tautai Fale-ship Residency!  

For his Fale-ship, Sione explores the concept of the visual representation of talanoa. Since the pandemic began in 2020, Sione has had to adapt his artistic practices and processes to adjust to his home environment from his studio environment. Sione explains while he was imagining ways to develop his practice from home, he was drawn to the idea of visually representing talanoa.  

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“I thought about talanoa, how we talk and how I could give talanoa a visual representation. And I guess through the means of recorders and things it gives me that representation of talanoa through these digital waves. So I thought of this way to bring talanoa into the digital realm and I thought of the songs and the poetry and oratory as those forms of talanoa.” 

– Sione Faletau


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