All posts filed under: Articles

Letter from the editor: Considering natural life cycles of the #

I finished installing my work quite quickly for our group exhibition. I went into the other gallery space to see what the rest of my friends/the artists were doing. Louisa Afoa had a film triptych already installed. I sat down to watch it. I didn’t expect to have any strong feelings toward or against the work. It was more or less a way to spend time. Surprisingly, siting on that ply wood bench turned out to be one of those gushy defining moments that everyone within the arts industry has. That moment when seeing something reaffirms why you too are involved in the arts. It’s not that the work itself was necessarily great—it was after all a student exhibition—but more a moment of realising what art can do. HomeAKL the now infamous Pacific art exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki opened the night after our show, so our opening by coincidence had a really good turn out. Despite that great turn out I knew that no one would write about this work that …

Today as A Female

Over the past ten weeks I have conducted nine hour long interviews. The aim of the interviews has been to open up a conversation about what it is like to identify as a contemporary female today by documenting women in their homes and asking them a series of intimate questions Is there ever a time at home that you feel your gender influences your responsibilities? “Mostly at my boyfriends. I’ll probably end up cooking for both of us because he doesn’t cook, and I’m hungry. I’ll do all the cleaning up. He doesn’t make comments or anything like that, it’s more that sometimes I feel like I’m automatically put into a position where I have to do female roles because, he’s not going to do it for me. If I don’t end up doing it, then it’s not going to happen, sooo…” Do you like having your picture taken? “No. Unless it’s me and I have like a thousand practices before. I mean not really, I’m not like afraid of the camera, like if we …

Lonely Island at Te Tuhi

I have fond memories of filling up water bottles and stocking up on canned foods, batteries and first aid kits with my family. The ‘end of the world’ paranoia brought my family together and with it revealed the worlds futuristic anxieties. It was the year of the Y2K bug (also known as the Millennium bug). The fear was brought on by the media who stated the reason for the world ending being ‘the practice of using two-digit dates for convenience predates computers, but it was never a problem until stored dates were used in calculations’ (1). Technological life seemed to flourish soon after the four digits 1999 rolled over to 2000. It was a global relief that all bank machines and computers didn’t get wiped out and reset. Regular life continued. I remember on my first day back at intermediate school, everyone was talking about Jennifer Lopez’s green dress, from the 2000 Grammy Awards. Designed by Donatella Versace, it was described as “jungle green”, “sea green” or “tropical green’’ a green dress with touches of blue to …

Briefly on the Precarity of the Emerging Artist

Precariousness is the new contemporary condition of the emerging artist. Even the very words ‘emerging artist’ — that is towards some sense of stability or establishment within the art world — are words that are now intermingled with the notion of precarity. To be an emerging artist, more often than not, is to be in a state of precariousness, meaning to live with an insecure and unforeseeable future especially through the corrosion of state support systems and privatisation of almost every realm of life. Now emerging artists are increasingly dependent on “something outside themselves, on others, on institutions and on sustained and sustainable environments.”(1)  To be an emerging artist today is to be dependent on many facets of the art world, more so than it ever has been. And because life is already precarious, under the current neoliberal agenda, artistic labor of the emerging artist is increasingly undervalued by the state. The precarity of living itself; the paying of bills, food, rent, power, internet and clothes etc., all impact artistic production. The harder it is to …

Invisible Bodies Part Three: Transformative Spaces

Invisible Bodies is a short term column by Natasha Matila-Smith, here is part three. In choosing the title for this series, I sought to raise issue with the under-representation of marginalised bodies in contemporary society.  Ironically, marginalised bodies are often the most visible and noticeable. These bodies are exposed because they are different from the ones we often see plastered across televisions and magazines; these bodies are different from the anglo-centric beauty standards we have been brought up to believe are superior.    Reality is subjective, but why is it that seeing multiple realities depicted in media so difficult?  It might not mean much to you, but seeing the same story with the same (often white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied) faces dominating the screen is not only unrealistic, it’s boring. In a World that constantly rejects the ‘different’, is the conclusion then that even fictional or seemingly fickle spaces like advertising have no room for the disempowered either? It was suggested by a friend that if I am to talk about ‘invisible bodies’ then I should talk about other …

Sleep

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. You know you should do the vacuuming when your baby does a shit and you have to pull a 20cm long hair out of her ass. This week we have had a sleep regression, meaning she wakes every couple of hours, rolls over and it’s disco time baby. Sleep deprivation used to make me achingly poetic, I could drink gin and bite on that cold moonlight like a cube of ice. It was a sexy thing to be an insomniac once. Artistic. Vaguely French. I used to find it inspirational. But after about two weeks on four hours a night sleeps, it definitely isn’t sexy anymore. My skin feels simultaneously on fire and completely numb, I feel like someone has bottled me in the eyes, and I cant walk straight. The night my girl was born they put me into the maternity ward at …

Invisible Bodies Part Two: Fatshionista

Invisible Bodies is a short term column by Natasha Matila-Smith, here is part two.  Even with a high demand and disposable income, it seems that very few companies are willing to sell big women a product that they are happy with.  In 2014, the US plus-size women’s market brought in approximately ten billion dollars, yet consumer requests for more variety (in body sizing and clothing options) have been largely ignored.  Sure, there are plus-size lines in chain stores but they lack the range of the average-size clothing line. Kmart has an appalling range of stretchy leggings, bejeweled t-shirts with Paris written on them and little in between. Lots of sleeveless flowy loose shirts, kaftans, print maxi-dresses and off-tint mullet tops. Not everyone wants to dress like they are going on a boat cruise. It’s just a lot of the same. I’m also not aware of any women who want to feel like the options presented to them are an after-thought dependent upon the availability of cheap bulk polyester fabrics. Even Beth Ditto, who is well-known for …

Invisible Bodies Part One

Invisible Bodies is a short term column by Natasha Matila-Smith, here is part one.  In Amalia Ulman’s Instagram art project, the artist convinced her 90K followers that she was an over-consumptive, materialistic, timid flower.  Using common tropes of ‘femininity’ found on Instagram, Ulman used her posts to question the literal construction of femininity. Ulman posed in Kardashian-esque fashion – mirror selfies in hip bone grazing body suits while forming a written narrative about female empowerment. Not to make fun of female agency, but to garner public response. This artist featured on various news sources as someone who outsmarted and outwitted the public; now she is not only an artist, but a critically acclaimed artist. Ulman even features on the Forbes: 30 Under 30 list, whatever that means.     I turn to Ulman’s work to discuss another unquestioned stereotype – women who access their naked or partially naked bodies to investigate various concepts – these are typically thin to average sized women. Actually, thin white women – to be specific – are more often recognised in …

Body Hair 

My body has not always felt as if it was my own. For most of my life, it has felt as if it belonged, at least partly, to men. One year during high school, the boys in my class made fun of the hair on my arms. I already felt nervous and ugly around boys. Forgetting to shave my legs, not bothering to shave above my knees, and having hair on my arms and on my stomach (where most of the other girls seemed not to), induced a sense of guilt. I felt as if it was my responsibility to make myself physically attractive to heterosexual and bisexual men, according to the Western beauty standards that had been drilled into me for as long as I could remember. I felt as if my body hair was my fault – that I wasn’t ‘feminine’ enough to please men and it was my duty to fix that. I needed to fit into the arguably prepubescent image of ‘acceptable femininity’ (1) that has been fed to men through the …