If you've ever spent time in Apia, Samoa, you'll know that the Royal Samoa Police Band is a crucial part of daily routine. Every morning, the white-suited musicians march from the Police HQ to Government House, where they perform the national anthem and raise the Samoan flag.
Four years ago, New Zealand-born artist Michel Tuffery developed a potent interest in both this ritual and its symbolism. Its origins are more than a century old, dating back to when Germany ruled over Samoa between 1900 and 1914.
Tuffery's exploration has led to the creation of a large-scale video installation, which juxtaposes German influences with indigenous Samoan culture, drawing from archival and contemporary records. For his work, Siamani Samoa, the Royal Samoa Police Band will travel to Australia for the first time ever, to perform live at Carriageworks with Tuffery’s video creating an immersive stage setting.
"Every culture has its own unique way of archiving history," says Tuffery. "Samoa traditionally has a long oral history practice, and for me, Siamani Samoa is like that moment when one brings out the family album — perhaps the album at the bottom of the shelf that no one gets to see — and reminds us that we are literally eating the past."
Siamani Samoa will appear for three consecutive nights from 7pm on July 16, 17 and 18, with a matinee happening on July 18 at 2pm. On July 17, between 10am and 4pm, the set will be on public display, and after the evening performance Michel Tuffery will drop in for a chat.