All posts filed under: Articles

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 …

VOODOO Halloween TIKI Party

Tiki mug, tiki mug My face, my mother’s face, my father’s face, my sister’s face  Tiki mug, tiki mug White beachcombers in tiki bars drinking zombie cocktails from tiki mugs The undead, the Tiki people, my mother’s face, my father’s face  The black brown and ugly that make customers feel white and beautiful  – Tiki Manifesto. Dan Taulapapa McMullin. Unpublished Poem, 2011. On Friday morning shit got real. People got wind of Rebel Soul Records Voodoo Halloween Tiki Party and the people didn’t like it. I was one of them. Rebel Soul Records is a newly opened record store situated in the same building as the Samoan Consulate. The store specialises in Jazz, Blues, Soul, Afro, Ska, Reggae, Dub, Punk, Alternative, Hip Hop and Electronica and also stocks collectibles including tiki kitsch.  Their event page tells us that “hidden within Samoa House is a beautiful Fale and is one of K-Rds hidden gems”. It continues to tell us that the Voodoo Tiki theme will include Fire and exotic dancers galore, Samoan BBQ with fire and …

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 …

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 …

Locating the Asia Pacific in Brisbane

As a fairly recent migrant to Brisbane, I’ve recently become aware of a quaint Fortitude Valley exhibition space called Media Art Asia Pacific (MAAP).   I assumed from the name that this space specialised in Asian and Pacific arts.  Indeed, the organisation is a staunch advocate for contemporary and historic Asian arts (and rightly so).  Interestingly enough they also advocate some European and non-indigenous Australian artists.  But from what I gather, there are very few, if any, Pacific heritage artists associated with MAAP. Frequently listing themselves as supporters of Asia-Pacific art, this blanket term is  problematic.  By using this, they commit a disservice to Pacific voices which are often overlooked.  Most importantly, they also evade the responsibility to specifically represent artists of Pacific heritage. The ever-shifting Shangri-la* or the concept of the ‘Asia-Pacific’ can hardly be held responsible for a lack of representation in a gallery that boasts itself as a supportive organisation for ‘unmapped media art activity from Australia, Asia and the Pacific.’  AND THE PACIFIC.  The description of MAAPs ambitions are further unravelled …

Flagging the Debate

With so many issues of political importance – the TPPA, sale of state housing, child poverty, and charter schools – considering the nation’s drapery seems almost immoral. The flag debate is political distraction par-excellence (as illustrated by our patron saint of topical comics, Toby Morris). Nothing will absorb the nation’s scant interest in politics like a debate over national aesthetics, and our media landscape simply isn’t capable of supporting a meaningful debate. The powers-that-be know this; the flag debate is carefully crafted political anathema. The flag debate is an aesthetic ploy, not a deeper meditation upon the meaning of New Zealand nationhood. The flag could have been tied to a larger conversation around Crown-sovereignty and the possibility of establishing a republic. The process might have taken ten years, but at-least substantive issues would have been propelled into the public domain. Instead, the terms of the flag debate have been kept strictly aesthetic, and the nation re-purposed into an unruly focus group trying to agree on a favourite colour. There was one problem right from the …

Mother’s Ruin: Being Cool

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.  ________________________ I wasn’t always the mother with the mum-bun and the muslin cape. I remember existing as a singular creative person, doing things as decadent as drinking a bottle of Fat Bird for a creatively inspirational breakfast. The other week my baby girl suddenly started to poo frothy dark green explosions. Her ass became a little saagwala paneer cannon and I was terrified. She was vomiting and suddenly the coziness of her skin felt a little too warm and I was sure she was sweating, she was definitely sweating and were her eyes glassy? Her head floppy? Was she cross-eyed? Was that a rash?  Oh my bloody Jesus. Sierra. Hotel. India. Tango. Briefly I had a flashback to a night of drinking red wine, smoking out the window, and watching Bridget Jones’ Diary in my underwear. For Inspiration. It’s not like I could just …

So hot right now? What about next week? – Saving decolonial practices from tokenisation and ephemerality.

As Lana’s recent article read, there is no denying that ‘decolonial discourses are so hot right now.’ She raises some critical points about how decolonialism is being viewed with regards to wider criticism and practice in Aotearoa. Let’s elaborate on this. What is the potential detriment of this ostensibly sudden but enthusiastic pique of decolonialist movements? Imma be straight with you – I’m not bagging this charged-up movement – I too am a bandwagoner, hence me seizing this opportunity to write about it. For one, the popularity of these movements have apparently been successful in democratising decolonisation narratives. The exponential growth (measured from my Twitter and Facebook newsfeed) of mentions, hashtags and general awareness regarding race relations in (primarily) the USA, and New Zealand is evidence that decolonial narratives are making their way into the mainstream, even if they are sometimes misinformed.  Yet what concerns me is the potential decline of this boom – like pop culture fads: yo-yos and bindi-wearing – I fear that the ‘so hot right now’-ness of decolonial discourses risks the …

Decolonisation is so hot right now – ST PAUL St Curatorial Symposium 2015 – Random Thoughts 

Note: I could not cover everything in this article nor was I trying to, this is just some thoughts that I had post the Symposium on my experience over 2 days of talks and manākitanga. This years ST PAUL St Curatorial Symposium was centred on alternate ways of being and knowing. It’s a social event for New Zealand’s curatorial community, really. There were talks by Julia Moritz, Cassandra Barnett, Léuli Eshraghi, Peter Brunt, Misal Adnan Yildiz and Marysia Lewandowska and manākitanga by Public Share and Local Time. The first four talks where led by speakers qualified with or on their way to a PhD. Despite the academic heft present, much of the time was spent considering alternate (non-academic or university sanctioned) ways knowing, often involving a process of unlearning. Learning, then unlearning. It can all be a bit of a vortex if you think about it for too long. Much of the energy seemed to be spent theorising what could otherwise be seen as instinctual. A common thread of the symposium was the use, redefinition …