All posts filed under: Articles

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 …

Forecasting Reo: Proof that we’re still a colonial nation.

I was explaining to a friend from Narrm Melbourne about this yearly phenomenon. It still baffles me. While it might be totally politically incorrect for me to say this, I’ve been addicted to TV One’s Breakfast show since Paul Henry was the host. My love of the Breakfast broadcaster has highlighted a growing concern. Every year during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori language week) the weather report includes a consorted effort to incorporate more reo Māori. Simple things, like Auckland becomes Tāmaki Makaurau, Christchurch becomes Ōtautahi, and so on. Unless you are completely geographically inept it makes little difference to the overall understanding of the weather. Really it’s a token gesture by TVNZ to embrace our countries 1st language, one week of the year. And yet every year during that same week I watch the complaints roll in. “Why is the weather being read in Māori? We speak English here.” And then I remember that I live in a country where bigotry is alive and well. A couple Wednesdays ago I opened Facebook …

Education Programmes

Tuesday night walking home from the Papakura train station, I encountered two boys between the ages of 10 and 12 about to have a fight. One was yelling abusive things. I can’t remember exactly what, but the words fuck you, motherfucker, and cunt were all used in some shape or form. The other young boy threw stones in retaliation. Perhaps he was the instigator? I wasn’t sure. I stepped in and told them both to “stop it” and “go home” in my cut this shit out I’m tired aunty voice and with some coaxing they did. I’m bringing up this story because as an education intern I think about how the institution can be more than what it is and how my programmes can engage the community in a meaningful way. I mean, it might already be engaging the community but how can it be better? It’s all well and good ticking the diversity box for funders. You can bring in different groups, talk about the conceptual framework of the exhibition and run workshops – …

Political Statement regarding ‘Vandalism’ of GAYTM

Tena koutou, On Thursday night our group “Queers Against Injustice” targeted an ANZ GAYTM with pink paint symbolising pinkwashing, attaching an accompanying manifesto outlining our reasons. When we woke up we found articles by the NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz reporting the GAYTM had been attacked with white paint and quoting passers-by as being offended at the homophobia implicit in the vandalism. This “vandalism” was represented as unethical and homophobic in all media representations. The perpetrators were described as “ignorant” and “intolerant”. All the reporting on the GAYTM ignored the political nature of this “vandalism” and framed it as homophobic.  This misrepresentation happened through a lack of awareness on the part of the reporters supported by probable concealment of the accompanying message by ANZ, who tweeted a photo of the GAYTM with the poster on the ground. Pinkwashing, a term we defined and outlined in the attached poster, describes the way that institutions co-opt LGBT struggles to distract from and disguise unethical behaviour. We targeted the Ponsonby GAYTM firstly to draw attention to the commercialisation of the Pride …

Annette McGuinness on dicks: ILD: pls txt me, k?

Part Five On Unrequited Reading and Unrequited Writing AKA The Recalled Book The year was 2012. A friend set me up with a book. Actually, I don’t remember who recommended the book, probably someone in my class, or maybe my tutor. There’s an outside chance that I stumbled upon a reference to it in independent research – it’s been known to happen. At the time, I had a university library account with 25 slots to burn. “What the hell, take a chance”, I thought. So I logged onto my account, and  “recalled” Chris Kraus’ “I Love Dick” from whichever sap currently had the book of my dreams. I soon became that sap. Let me just say, this book gets around. I started it about four times. Every time I got about two thirds of the way through, and every time I had to return it before I had finished, since some cruel person – some faceless third party – had recalled my book. I have been doomed to love “I Love Dick” from a distance. …

A view from the other side

Like anyone who leaves this country for any amount of time, the feeling of deflation upon return is often frustrating. Admittedly, I’d been spoiled for choice when it came to perusing art on the Continent. And yet I was rather exasperated that cultural perceptions in Aotearoa still remained archaic. Like any nation with a history of cultural evolution, the two dominant narratives seem to revolve around migration and the working class. Social and economic factors have a direct impact on art making and spectatorship, and while a lot of advances have been made, these narratives are as yet still unfolding. Somewhere along the way with the rebranding of New Zealand as a multicultural nation, there also seemed to be an overzealous stating of difference. The most obvious example would be the identification of Pasifika art as a distinct field. Among my contemporaries are artists who no longer belong to the generation who remember home as another place. Which is not to discredit artists who draw on their cultural heritage, but it seems this has become …

Playgrounds of the Liveable City

There is a James K. Baxter poem called The Bay, in which the writer laments his lost youth while revisiting his childhood beach. Until recently, Baxter’s inertia was simply a literary memory; a moment taught to me in high school. Finally, I have found my own bay. There’s no sand, water or thistle shrubs, but the distress between site and memory feels the same. A quick edit of Baxter’s title line, and the feeling is caught. I remember the [playground] that never was And stand like stone and cannot turn away. My childhood playground – nestled in Myers Park – was humble as any, its construction was crude; wood and steel bound together on a bed of bark. A classic of the post-war generation, Myers Park playground allowed for few extravagances. It seems natural to attach the same reverie and nostalgia to a playground as Baxter does to a beach. After all, playgrounds are among our first interactions with the built environment. For young urbanites, these sites become a conditioning of youth, a system en-lieu …

Sometimes you’re too romantic. 

The sentiment is not lost on me that it takes a lot of effort for a person to exert so much positivity in regards to romantic outlooks on life.  There is something innately cynical that edges me towards a distrust of artists who have blind faith in the romantic gesture.  It is almost like setting yourself up for a failure that you can’t live up to.   As artists we sometimes live in a romantic Utopia, not resisting hard enough to refrain from presenting all things as beautiful and perfectly personal.  Even if this were a relationship, I want something real and longer lasting.  Something I won’t be disappointed with when the truth is finally revealed – that the commitment to romanticism is short-lived.  I just don’t believe it. I wrote a while back about the romantic ruin in regards to Gavin Hipkins show Leisure Valley at AUT’s St Paul Street Gallery.  I was being an idealist, latching onto a moment with a stranger as we watched the same film.  I believed we were strangely …

Labour, Leisure and Low-Carb Beer

“Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit” A retired builder philosophised this quote. At the time, he was sitting on a boat starring out to sea, drinking a low-carb beer. While its not exactly high-flung stuff, it doesn’t need to be. There is plenty to be gleamed from folk wisdom – a working class proverb crafted at the end of the working day. Thinking back, it was a distinctly kiwi scene – not something I’m usually drawn too – so why, years later does it still hold an impression on me? One week into January and already the year’s expectations are beginning to stack up. When can you finish that article? Have you been to the refuse station? Can you take on extra shifts? Leisure is one of the most vulnerable things in this economy, and while it is constantly marketed to us, contractually promised to us, we seem to very rarely experience it. It’s a common misconception that doing nothing is easy. It’s not. While doing nothing has many names (laziness, …