Fanny Wonu Veys (37) is a Belgian curator and researcher. She studied a MA in Art History and Archaeology at Ghent University (Belgium) and in addition a MA and PhD in Anthropology, with a focus on Material Culture, at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (UK). Working within an ethnographic museum context, inspired her to develope musicological experiences in Cambridge, New York, Paris, Leiden and Amsterdam. Her research interests are Pacific art and material culture, museums and cultures of collecting, Pacific musical instruments, Pacific textiles, and the significance of historical objects in a contemporary setting. She believes that contemporary art and close collaboration can increase the presence of an indigenous Pacific voice.
What are you most passionate about in life:
Most things that I do are driven by the concept of freedom. Freedom for me is living my life without anyone making choices for me and of course without harming the freedom of others.
What do you find inspiring in fashion, art and design?
It fascinates me how fashion, art and design can address current issues in today’s society. Issues that have the potential of being very dynamic while at the same time being rooted in time and place. I see fashion, art and design as being individual and part of a collective or community. For instance ideas can flow from the mind of a single individual, but for this idea to be successful this individual needs to be part of or create a community.
What are the three most inspiring designers to you?
There are a number of Pacific designers I find inspiring in the way that they engage with their heritage. Shona Tawiao, a New Zealand Māori fibre artist and designer, is one of them. Her work can be found in art galleries, theatre, television sets and on the catwalk. It inspires me how she was able to bring Māori flax or Phormium tenax, weaving to the forefront in a world dominated by loom-woven textiles. Another inspiration for me is Shigeyiki Kihara, a Samoan and Japanese designer and performer. In his work the dressed and undressed body is a focal point and he uses this to discuss issues such as gender, identity, the colonial gaze and contemporary racism. Finally Lisa Reihana, a New Zealand Māori descent, inspires me in the way she uses digital photography and installations to re-examine colonial history in relation to Pacific communities nowadays.
What do you find difficult about the fashion, art and design industry?
Sometimes when artwork addresses personal statements or issues, I can find it hard to relate to.
Which three countries where most inspiring for you to visit?
When I visited Finland, the natives where surprised of the fact that I wasn’t a native. This was refreshing to me, coming from a mostly white dominated environment, where locals most of the time assume that I’m not a native. Visiting Finland, a land with an interesting history as a Baltic nation caught between Russia and Sweden, gave me a different perspective on European politics and cultural dynamics.
I know Hawaii is strictly speaking not a country, but the Hawaiian archipelago is a special place. The way different cultures such as the Japanese, Pilipino, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and native Hawaiian cultures meet and live side by side is very inspiring. And in Hawaii I feel very much at home and this is not just only because of the weather!
Finally Canada is a country that keeps surprising me. The country is huge. It always comes as a surprise to me that after hours of driving through forested or mountainous areas, all of a sudden a town complete with shops, museums and art galleries appears out of nothing. I also find it inspiring that in cities such as Montréal languages are cohabiting. Monolingual societies make me somehow feel claustrophobic.
The fashion fest is about creating awareness. How do you see this concept?
For me awareness is not a stand-alone concept, but a concept that evolves in relation with others. Individuals can have multiple, sometimes contrasting identities. Awareness is about accepting the existence of multiple identities that an individual can have.
How does your work relate to topics such as gender, identity and diversity?
So far my research relates most to gender. In my exhibitions and academic writing I try to focus on the principle of multi-vocality. Instead of focussing on monolithic definitions, I offer multiple vantage points in an effort to offer a nuanced perspective on topics. My research has so far been most concerned with gender, which perhaps transpires in my choice of artists in the former question.
What do you think the effect of digital technology and globalisation will be on the creative sector?
I believe that the world and the creative sector will always be a subject of change. Change, however, always has been part of our world. The speed at which these changes are occurring is the biggest challenge, because it differs. I think digital technology and globalisation will push the creative sector to incorporate changes faster, and do so with more responsibility.