Month: February 2016

Tears into Lemonade

In recent months a substantial amount of social media commentary in ‘progressive’ spaces has been marked by the flowing of ‘white tears’, or Pākehā justifications for racism. This type of symbolic violence reveals an ignorance on the part of passive or well meaning Pākehā that must be challenged if these spaces are to become safe for all people. For many, Waitangi weekend is a time to highlight a history of Aotearoa that is desperately pushed aside by mainstream Pākehā society. A history of colonial theft, exploitation and genocide. It is a time of dissent and resistance, reminding those intent on forgetting, that this history lives and breathes. It is also a time when the most explicit racism that exists in our society comes to the fore. Babbling, defensive Pākehā, faced with the reality of our belonging and history in this land, go to great lengths to silence the truth and maintain the collective amnesia that so comfortably upholds the status quo. It is also when the music festival Chronophonium is held. The festival attracts, it’s …

Musings on Death

I recently acquired a carte-de-visite from a Wellington store which specialises in stamps, postcards, and ‘old photographs’. For those of you unfamiliar with the carte-de-visite (or cdv), it’s a type of photograph patented by Andre Disderi, in Paris, 1853. Disderi invented a camera with multiple lenses, enabling subjects at his studio to leave with a selection of portraits, printed onto albumen paper and mounted onto separate cards of about 6.5x10cm. Easily reproducible, the cdv was intended for distribution to family and friends, and usually collected in albums designed for that purpose. This new addition to my cdv collection is of an extremely dapper but slightly morose looking young man.  Aged in his early 20s, he slouches in the studio’s padded chair, wearing a suit with a waistcoat, the chain of his fob watch visible. He has a splendid mop of hair that would put Hugh Grant (circa 1995) to shame, and he’d look right at home on the pages of http://mydaguerreotypeboyfriend.tumblr.com. However, for me, the appeal of this photograph was the name of the photographer, …

WWED? In Conversation with Emma Ng

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 Emma Ng. Emma is the Curator/Manager at Enjoy Public Art Gallery in central Wellington. She moved to Enjoy not long after completing the Blumhardt Curatorial Internship at The Dowse and last year was a part of the Asia New Zealand Curators tour to Asia. Read more for what would Emma do? What kind of art gets you excited? I’m a sucker for anything speculative, semi-fictional, or stranger than fiction. I went to design school rather than art school, and design schools are stuffed full of optimism. While some naivety has worn away, I like speculative projects because they inherently express a desire for experimentation and change, underscored by a stubborn belief that alternatives to present conditions are possible. Enjoy Public Art Gallery occupies a fairly unique space within Wellington’s art community and you’ve been the curator/manager there for roughly 2 years now, how have you found it? What …

Nitty Gritty

This is an on-going series that investigates Bella Horlor’s new role as a young mother. An artist and poet, Horlor shares the banal quandaries that exist between artistic and maternal labour. So I have a tendency to get extremely poetic when it comes to motherhood. It really is the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me. But. Humans are messy, humans can be annoying, humans can be hilariously absurd. Having a baby is a concentrated intimate version. For instance, for months I have been unable to leave the baby alone while I go to the toilet, so she has to come with me. I take easily sterilised toys (no plushies) and try keep her occupied and in one place. Now that she can crawl she has become curious about what lies behind the toilet, so I have to fend her off, dangle toys in her face, and protect my limbs from her gnashing jaws. Sometimes she crawls off and I have to try call her back, mid bowel movement, as I hear various things …

Restless Idiom at Te Uru

Over the last three years we have seen a popularity hike in the use of risograph as the print material supplementary to New Zealand Contemporary Art. It’s almost saturated the design market, at one stage seeming like a template to exhibition ephemera. It’s attractive for obvious reasons, it’s tactile, cheap and perfect for mass production. Most importantly, I think the attraction in the form was a desire to retract to manual print processes, almost nostalgic. The ‘digital screen print’ production allows a nature of layering and urgency, deeply embedded within political image making. James Cousins’ Restless Idiom at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery speaks design language. The 15 paintings ranging in sizes but mostly large all include a reproduced image (originally a photograph) and on top of that are contradictory abstract layers. Cousins employs various methods of layering – geometric stencils, floral arrangements, rolled paint – to create a dynamic image on a single painted plain. While the reproduced image is clearly there for a reason, deciphering exactly what it is, feels less important. Through the …

WWUD? In Conversation with Uniform

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 Uniform. Uniform is an art collective based in Auckland, New Zealand working across all creative mediums. The female only collective recently finished a residency at Auckland’s Artspace and are about to move on to a project at Blue Oyster Art Project Space in Dunedin. Read more for what would Uniform do? For those of who may not know who is Uniform and what do you do? Uniform is the name a group of friends use when we work on projects collaboratively. Uniform could be two of us working on a sound piece or twenty of us participating in an event. We are mostly Auckland based women working in art, film, sound, writing, print and archiving. Do think there are any gaps within our country’s arts landscape? Hope so! Gaps are the out of bound spaces we like to dwell in. That’s where the change happens Uniform makes art …

Sucu Mate / Born Dead at Hopkinson Mossman

Luke Willis Thompson’s found objects carry heavy baggage. They are loaded with association, either tracing personal connections or significant events. One such example is Yaw (RM Gallery, 2011) which assembled two objects from within his personal orbit, and with them opened a doorway to big issues of racism, slavery and the holocaust. Sucu Mate/ Born Dead is made up of nine unmarked gravestones standing in a row, cutting across the gallery floor. The wall text informs us that the anonymous headstones come from a colonial sugar plantation cemetery in Fiji for both the workers and managers. Immediately flags are raised regarding indentured labour, and indeed the value placed on both life and labour. Issues of racism and segregation rear their ugly heads. In the place of slavery came exploitation and the abuse of cheap ‘coolie’ labour: neo-slavery. We are confronted with a history that we may prefer to forget. Are the stones anonymous because no one bothered to name them? Or have any traces simply worn away with time, and records been lost? David Joselit argues …

Mahābhūta at Uxbridge and Fo Guang Shan

Mahābhūta: The Great Element was a solo show by Tiffany Singh at Uxbridge, a former site for a Presbyterian Church in Howick, and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Flat Bush. Both exhibitions under the same name acted like sister shows, in very different settings. From the outset, and typical of Singh’s practice, this was an exhibition centered on multiplicity; multiple sites, installations, objects, traditions and ethnicities, a multi-sensory exhibition reflecting on the natural environment. And there are multiple things at stake for this social practitioner. The exhibition at Uxbridge included small sculptural works, films made with Robert George, a sound piece by Steven Berry, posters by The Kauri Project and The River of Verses, an installation of phrases painted around the entire circumference of the gallery. The phrases, which included proverbs and poetry on nature, were painted by local individuals and community groups, including schools and members of local iwi. The exhibition at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, similarly, was made up of various sculptural works, drawings, installations and a film. Uxbridge, as a …