Month: March 2015

I too am Auckland

In the beginning of the week I watched the video I too am auckland where pacific islander and maori students at Auckland University are interviewed about their experience of attending the institution. Pretty much all the students who spoke had been in uncomfortable situations where they felt discriminated against because of their race and living in South Auckland. It made me think of my years at art school. I never felt discriminated against because of my race or area code because like the students in I too am Auckland I’m from out South and of Polynesian heritage. What I did feel though particularly in my first year of undergrad was a disconnection between myself and my peers. My unease and inability to feel like part of the group stemmed from many things – I was the only Samoan in my year group, I had come from a high school that was a decile one and although I can’t be certain I doubt any of my peers went to primary school with christmas paper used as …

Friend of Friends of Friends at Casbah Gallery

How many exhibitions have there been recently that have been devoted purely to drawing? Not many. Perhaps not any. I can recall two. They are thin on the ground and the reason they are is the old conundrum called hegemony. Drawing is ever the bridesmaid. Painting takes precedence. It’s just how it is on this bitch of an earth, as one of the characters from Waiting for Godot, deliciously puts it. But we can now add to the above paltry figure because the Casbah gallery in Hamilton has just put on a show that exclusively deals in drawing. Called Friend of Friends of Friends, (March 6 – March 21) it exhibited the work of six different artists all proficient in ink on paper, together with other assorted mediums that included acrylic, shoe polish, nail polish and screen print. Priscilla McIntosh’s work consisted of three drawings – figures from the 80’s Punk band, The Minute Men: Mike Watt, D. Boon and George Hurley. They were small works on paper with a touch of acrylic paint to …

WWJD? In Conversation with Jahra Rager

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand. This week we spoke to Jahra Rager. Jahra is a poet, choreographer and dancer based in Auckland. She’s just come out of the first season of MOTHER/JAW which she choreographed and has received a great amount critical acclaim. As well as that she teaches dance under Ia Manuia and performs in internationally reknowed productions such as I AM by Lemi Ponifasio of MAU and for Fijian collective Vou. Read more for what would Jahra do? When I first heard of ‘Jahra Rager’ it was as Jahra – the spoken word poet. What is poetry to you? Poetry came at a really important time in my early creative life. I was training at Unitec’s Contemporary Dance programme, and when I was in second year, I started to feel really constricted and suppressed. When you train for a long period of time in a concentrated regime with a (sometimes) singular perspective, it can begin to affect your wairua’s …

Extinct (and Dormant) Volcanic Cones of Tāmaki Makau­rau

In Year 5, I made a papier-mâché volcano that spewed the usual mix of baking soda and vinegar. This primary school experiment seemed less arbitrary in Auckland. I lived in a residential neighbourhood that had it’s own volcano, the mountain leant an air of possibility to my frothing paper stack. Maungawhau / Mt Eden At 643 feet above sea level, Maungawhau is the highest point in the Tāmaki isthmus. Edmund Hillary trained for Everest on the slopes of Maungawhau by strapping six tires to his back and trekking up and down the Mountain. The young Hillary had to find a way to compensate for the difference between suburban Maungawhau, and the Himalayan Everest. A difference of 28,386 feet to be precise. Maungawhau may not be as tall as Everest -­ or even little sister Rangitoto – ­but in Auckland’s Volcanic Field, the Mountain is none­-the-­less important. The bowl­-like crater of Maungawhau is tapu, and access is prohibited by a fence and Council signage. Prior to the Council’s clamp down on access into the crater, the contours of …

Natasha Matila-Smith on dicks: The WMA edition

What’s your WMA dick story? There is a WMA who is in a lot of press lately and winning awards etc.  He was given a solo show at a dealer gallery here and I bumped into him I asked him ‘How was the opening?’ and his surly and drunk response was ‘I didn’t sell anything’ and then silence followed It just irritated me that instead of being grateful for having a show, he was only concerned about selling work. Yeah, he sounds super entitled.  Do you think the art crowd in Syds are aware of the white male artist entitlement? WMA is huuuuuge here – perhaps because of a larger population…I don’t know I was talking with a friend once (a mixed race male artist here in Sydney) and he was telling me how it’s almost like a joke here that the WMA privilege is so strong We also talked about the Chuck Close exhibition which just closed at the MCA recently and how it was basically just another WMA getting a huge show when …

Meredith Leigh Crowe speaks with Jordana Bragg

Jordana Bragg is one of Wellington’s emerging contemporary artists.  Her work ranges from film and media to installation and performance.  Just the other week her works This Is For You and We Are Okay featured in The Performance Arcade, the mini-festival in shipping containers on the Wellington Waterfront each year.  Much of Bragg’s work engages us with media art, and media artists in a way that in unexpected, powerful, and personal.  Her works take on characters and nuances that we expect from people, not screens.  Photographer Pat and I caught up with Jordana at Nikau Café to talk about her increasingly impressive portfolio, she is one to keep an eye on! Meredith – How did you come to art school? Jordana – I just kept doing art through high school, I became more and more art focused.  Actually friend of mine and I were the only students in our school to want to do classics, and we had to literally skype in a teacher from Marsden every session.  To learn art history. M – That’s …

Ebbing Tagaloa at Fresh Gallery Otara

As one enters the gallery, the smell of koko (samoan cocoa) and coconut fills the room. This is not common in art galleries. The audience is, therefore, prompted to search for the scent’s origin and drawn closer to Schaafhausen’s floor installation. The installation is composed of five large white round trays which represent the low-lying Gilbert Islands in Kiribati that are at risk of being submerged due to global warming. These trays are placed in different areas around the room and holds multiple glossy black, white, and brown miniature sculptures (tagaloas) of the polynesian sea god Tangaroa. The tagaloas are hand-moulded from coconut oil, koko, and sand – materials used daily in the Pacific Islands. Similar to the islands, the figures are sensitive to temperature and will disintegrate in hot climates. This adds an interesting element to the installation as a different picture is created everyday. On this particular day, many of the tagaloas had melted, leaving behind mounds of material which combined to create a rich marbling effect. At the end of this exhibition, …

G.I. Area A & B: Housing in New Zealand (1946 – ) at Ngā Taonga

Home is where the heart is I grew up in a state home, my mum and my nieces and nephews still live in that state home and actually to us its not a state home, its our family home. Our names are etched in concrete from my dads home jobs and it holds memories of major events in our lives from births, birthdays to funerals. A house can be so much more than a house, and what I can’t imagine is my mum being forced out of hers. Luckily she’s not (at the moment), but that cant be said for the community of G.I. (Glen Innes). Dieneke Jansen’s work G.I. Area A & B: Housing in New Zealand (1946 –  ) which is currently being screened at Ngā Taonga talks to the on going struggle of residents that live in housing New Zealand homes in G.I who are being forced out of their homes as the government has decided the land is very valuable and would like to sell it. Just like Ponsonby, G.I is …

Arriving in ANZ

On my trips to Āpia from Narrm Melbourne on Air New Zealand, the plane often alights in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Sometimes I stay a few hours, other times, a few days. A few years ago, I was entertained by the Rugby World Cup-derived safety and promotional presentations. Similarly, the Lord of the Rings version when the film trilogy was first released was of interest. And then the novelty wore off. As a Sāmoan Persian Australian artist, curator and citizen, language and its politics are significant to my practice and outlook. I’ve often looked to contemporary artistic and linguistic practices in Aotearoa New Zealand for what could be possible in Vanuatu, Kanaky New Caledonia, Sāmoa, and Australia where I currently live and work. Kohanga reo, wānanga, bilingual Māori-English naming of government departments, arts institutions, Māori Television and Te Reo channels, the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 and the settlements process, strong Māori and Pacific representation and agency following sustained oppression and protest, are in our minds across te Moananui a Kiwa. At some point, aggressive cultural homogenisation …