Month: October 2015

Dinner Party Politics 

FADE IN LANA, MĀORI, SAMOAN, TONGAN ONE, TONGAN TWO with his wife AUSTRALIAN, TONGAN THREE and TONGAN FOUR sit around a table on the rooftop in central Sydney. It’s 4pm and 28 degrees. TONGAN ONE hands TONGAN FOUR another cider. AUSTRALIAN starts talking to SAMOAN… AUSTRALIAN Yea, they’re [Aboriginal peoples] just brought up with such hate. SAMOAN slightly not interested nods. They must be talking about the results of colonial oppression, yea I’m into this.  LANA leans in to start listening. AUSTRALIAN They’re taught to be that way though, like no ones showing them hate, but they just hate everyone around them. Oh shit she’s talking about hate as in the Aboriginal people are the ones who hate the world. Does she mean that they’re like oppressing themselves? She must have no clue about what I do.  LANA calms herself, conscious this is a social situation. TONGAN ONE gives LANA side eye. LANA sees this. I know he’s read my writing on Decolonial Curatorial Practice. Is he telling me disengage?  MĀORI looks away. She’s my …

Backbone at The Banff Centre, Canada

At the end of August this year The Banff Centre in partnership with Red Sky Performance showcased the premiere of Backbone (2015) is an Indigenous dance piece crafted to depict the idea of the mountains being the spine of the Americas. With a troupe of mostly Indigenous dancers, the show unfolded brightly with a Fijian dancer  placing the South Pacific on stage. I felt right at home. The lights lowered, the atmosphere changed and movement began immediately. The choreography poured through intense and high energy technical pieces that favoured the male dancers. The muscular physiques led into fast sequences, dramatised within the theatre environment and moving effortlessly from one excerpt to the other. Backbone was dreamt up by the Director of Indigenous Arts Sandra Laronde and was produced in collaboration with Jera Wolfe (Co-Choreographer) and Thomas Fonua (Faculty/Co-Choreographer). With a strong presence annually in Banff, Fonua is featured in many of the photographs that advertise the Banff Indigenous Dance Residency and his role as faculty and performer has allowed him to form strong relationships with …

Inês Valle in conversation with Jimmy Saruchera

THE REAL CHANGE HAS JUST STARTED* | an interview with the Zimbabwean gallerist Jimmy Saruchera by the independent curator Inês Valle October is without doubt one of the most vibrant months in London, from food and film festivals to outstanding art exhibitions and international art fairs that keep drawing the world’s most influential art buyers to the UK. This year and once more coinciding with Frieze, we have the third edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, that proclaims its focus on the Afrikan Continent, offering in both London and New York a profitable and a discursive platform to Afrika and its art players. Apart from the exponential increase of Afrikan based art galleries at 1:54 [more than 40% in 2015] and the remarkable visibility that it has been giving to Afrika’s art in the Western world, we should have an open discussion about the legitimacy of this fair since it is yet to itinerate on the Afrikan continent itself. Whether we like it or not, the enormous curiosity about Afrika is still drawn by …

Dovetail Dreams at David Lloyd Gallery

Agnes Dean was a cabinetmaker. That’s a somewhat startling piece of information when you consider the detail. A woman and with the name Agnes, would put her back somewhere in the early part of the twentieth century. Furniture making, of course, was the preserve of men, along with all the other ‘manly’ professions. To be born female and in 1920 or thereabouts would be a recipe for the predetermination of one’s role, clearly defined and limited to the narrow confines of domestic help, nursing or occupations of similar ilk. But Agnes broke the mould in conservative England where social parameters were rigidly set and strictly followed. What helped Agnes Dean was the fact that her foray into an exclusively male domain happened during the war years where all the traditional gender roles, of necessity, were, at least temporarily, abrogated. Men in large numbers conscripted for war meant shortages on the home front which were filled by women, who kept “the home fires burning”. Thousands worked in munitions factories for which Rosie the Riveter was the …

The Transactional Practice of Mordo Barkley

The following text completes an agreement of exchange between Emil Dryburgh and Mordo Barkley, for the painting Collection of E. Dryburgh, swapped for Five Hundred Words, 2015. I’m pretty sure this kind of stuff happens all the time. Nepotism is the oil that greases the art world’s wheels, and everybody likes to be nice to their friends. Admittedly, the transaction is not usually as literal as this, but the principles of reciprocity and mutual gain are the same. It could be said that Mordo Barkley is using me as a hired gun, a means to inflate the brand through the written medium by which art is traditionally assessed. At-least we’re conducting our bargain in broad daylight, better than the smoke and mirrors of many a ‘critical reception’. I’m not the first to strike a bargain with Barkley. The artist has already bartered transactions with writers, designers, gallerists, and even a constructions manager. While trading art works is in itself not uncommon (McCahon constantly bartered his paintings), the method is rarely used to access the knowledge …

Hot Brown Honey at Judith Wright Centre

BRIEFS FACTORY/BLACK HONEY COMPANY (AUS) Presented by Brisbane Festival & Briefs Factory in association with Judith Wright Centre Through word-of-mouth recommendations and a fortuitously available spare ticket, I viewed the critically popular all-female (and one drag queen) production Hot Brown Honey.  Created by performer and dancer Lisa Fa’alafi, the show addresses and attempts to redefine cultural stereotypes, often with a less than subtle criticism on patriarchal colonial systems and their trappings.   The first irony that I notice, as the audience filled into the theatre, was that a majority of the patrons were not brown skinned.  I was aware that HBH was written to inform people about the issues that accompany cultural stereotypes, but dually conscious that this production didn’t hold back in regards to vocal criticisms of white Australians.  As one of the audience members at my table pointed out though, the performers of HBH had a fabulous and perhaps intended opportunity – to reach people who are often the main perpetrators of cultural misunderstandings.  This ironic tension lasted throughout the show – with …