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The Clam’s Kiss at The University of Queensland Art Museum

The Clam’s Kiss | Sogi a le faisua is The University of Queensland Art Museum’s online journal dedicated to forms of transoceanic relation, creativity, and knowledge.

A companion to the multi-year initiative Blue Assembly, The Clam’s Kiss | Sogi a le faisua publishes essays, reflections, interviews and poems in the spirit of ceremonial and political practices of reciprocity and affirmation that are evidenced in the sogi practice (shared breath of life or ritualised kiss) common across many Great Ocean cultures and restricted in a time of planetary health crisis.

The words sogi and faisua (giant clam) are both drawn from editor Léuli Eshrāghi’s Sāmoan language, signalling the journal’s commitment to a multilingual approach to reading, listening, viewing and relating. With this online journal, we seek to sustain attention on the heating climates of multiple oceans through the metaphor of the giant clam, which symbolises interdependence as one of the keystone species of healthy reef ecosystems.

The known species of giant clam across equatorial oceans are important indicators of pelagic and reef health with their colourful iridescence signalling a rich and biodiverse environment. Revered and desired across the Great Ocean, they are both sustenance and symbolic repositories of storytelling. Acting as a host for marine life in need of safe haven or a nursery, they are highly responsive to shadow—their in-built defence mechanism—offering themselves as a site of refuge for other species to flourish. The importance of faisua’s interdependent knowledge and non-binary community offers a vital and complex metaphor for wayfinding into futures that enable planetary and interspecies wellbeing.

Issue I: Thinking through Oceanic Visual Cultures
The Clam’s Kiss | Sogi a le faisua
begins with issue I: Thinking through Oceanic Visual Cultures—accompanying the first exhibition in the ambitious multi-year initiative Blue Assembly—to expand mind, heart and body with a number of urgent perspectives. New authored texts are released monthly throughout 2022.

Invited writers and thinkers belonging to multiple ancestries, deltas and archipelagos across the Great Ocean have each penned a response to an important text, sometimes rare and out of print. In concert, these texts situate readers, writers, artists, curators, scientists and communities alike in multiple intersectional Indigenous understandings of the Great Ocean.

For readers uninitiated to the burgeoning transdisciplinary fields of Global Indigenous Visual Arts and Blue Humanities, these reprinted and out of print texts alongside their contemporary responses propel smarter solutions to a panoply of existential crises, greater consciousness of the complexity of planetary life, and collectivised forms of futurity built in union.

With this inaugural issue of the online journal The Clam’s Kiss | Sogi a le faisua, the resonances of transoceanic thought are felt across digital territories, traversing vast bodies of water, in an act of gathering to attend to these writings and language that have been present throughout but in the shadows, awaiting their return in new forms of symbiotic being and knowing, like the many entities whose homes we term faisua today. ​

The Clam’s Kiss | Sogi a le faisua is edited by Curatorial Researcher-in-Residence Dr Léuli Eshrāghi with Senior Curator Peta Rake, along with contributors resident across many oceans, who together channel a much-needed shift towards transoceanic ways of relating and thriving.

A special recognition goes to Soné Naomi Eshrāghi of the Sā Seumanutafa (Āpia), Sā Piliaʻe Faʻaseʻe Leliliʻo (Leulumoega), Sā Tautua (Salelologa), and Sā Manō (Siʻumu) clans, whose work in translation and restorative mental healthcare negotiates between aganuʻu Sāmoa and anglophone cultures, among many other roles.

About The University of Queensland Art Museum
The University of Queensland Art Museum is a site for progressive and contemporary creative inquiry and one of Australia’s leading University Art Museums. Through a thought-provoking program of exhibitions and events, and in collaboration with academic partners, UQ Art Museum challenges audiences to consider new and diverse perspectives on urgent global issues.

*Images above: (1) Stingray indents in the mudflats, Minjerribah, 2022. (2) Archival faisua drawings.