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Performing Artist/Weaver: Louie Zalk-Neale 

Louie Zalk-Neale (Ngāi Te Rangi, Pākehā) is a trans takatāpui artist who creates with the transformative power of body adornment. The practice of twisting taura tī kōuka (cabbage tree fibre rope) has become a central pou in Louie’s mahi toi, forming intricate wearable objects and kākahu. In some of Louie's projects, these taura reach out to bind the sacred transgender experience with the transformative shapeshifting powers of taniwha and tipua, and reinforce Louie’s vision of queerness as an intrinsic quality of any natural and cultural system. Being from Tauranga Moana, Louie feels a connection to the powerful ropes made by patupaiarehe in the pūrākau of the ancestral maunga Mauao. Along with tī kōuka, Louie revives discarded plastics and precious detritus from forests, beaches and gutters to add meticulously crafted extensions to their body. Louie’s wider practice connects performance art, body adornment, sculpture, video, drawing, and holding wānanga and workshops.


Louie was recently in Taiwan for a month-long artist lab at the Taipei Performing Arts Center focused on queer ecology in performance with twelve artists from around the world, which was hosted in part by local indigenous people. Since 2015, Louie has presented work across Aotearoa and internationally with Gus Fisher Gallery, PAWA, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Enjoy, Blue Oyster, Artspace Aotearoa, CIRCUIT, Shared Lines, and Critical Costume Conference, along with many independent projects.

Louie Zalk-Neale  

Louie Zalk-Neale wearing a Tātua Tī Kōuka, for sale from the Whakaaro Whakairo exhibition

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