Artist Talk: Jon TonksEvents
About The Event
Following with the exhibition preview of 'Islands & Myths' at Belfast Exposed, we will host an artist talk with the contemporary photographer Jon Tonks on Friday 29th June at 1pm.
Visit the exhibition page for more information.
Jon Tonks first travelled to Vanuatu in the South Pacific in 2014 with collaborator and writer Christopher Lord, and this new series Blong seeks to understand the archipelago’s so-called ‘Cargo Cults’. Once a year, rituals take place in Vanuatu in which locals don military fatigues, carve muskets out of bamboo, and march to salute the American flag in the belief that a messianic American solider named John Frum will return with a ‘cargo’ of riches and herald a return to traditional customs untouched by colonial or missionary interference. In the course of their research, the pair learned of a handful of individuals who travel from America and Europe claiming to be fulfilment of this prophecy. This is an entrenched phenomenon with numerous cases stretching back through the twentieth century. In addition to documenting the belief systems found in Vanuatu, the project follows the stories of these individuals – their banal lives at home often contrast with the imagined worlds they conjure as messiahs and kings on these tropical islands in the South Seas. ‘Blong’ brings together photographs, archival imagery, video and objects gathered over four years. It is an attempt to understand the origins of Vanuatu’s Cargo Cults by listening to the accounts of the faithful. The project also interrogates an obscure, surreal fantasy that’s deeply knit in the Western imagination – that of the castaway, lost and adrift from a corrupt world, who washes up on an idyllic island far from home only to be welcomed as a god.