All posts filed under: Columns

Mother’s Ruin goes to Bedrock

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 hauled the baby from the warmth of the car. I’m sorry girl but I’m not missing this one. I fumble with my keys, and lock the car before I remember that breast milk is a natural sedative and actually that might be my best bet here. So into the front seat she goes, on the boob looking up at me with a slight frown. I haven’t been to an art show since becoming a mother. Mainly because they often tend to be right around our bedtime, and honestly when I found out I was having a baby, I lost plenty of friends who were more comfortable to just leave me to it. That’s been fine, but not for this one. This one was Bedrock, a show at a Studio One Toi Tū by Charlotte Benoit. Charlotte and I were in the same year …

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 …

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 …

Revolution

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.   Lately I’ve noticed my little girl have little baby tantrums. If I’m distractedly tidying the lounge and she wants more attention/ if she’s being manhandled/ or if I take the dirty shoe out of her mouth, she throws her arms in the air and starts slapping her sides while her face turns purple. That, or she’ll throw her head backwards in a comically exaggerated gesture of despair. Sometimes she even growls and bites. I describe her affectionately as a ‘firecracker’ a ‘force of nature’ and as a ‘hell-raiser’. I love that she’s lively, assertive, and inexhaustibly curious. Admittedly, these are also elements of my own temper. I tell her to calm down ‘order in my courtroom’ as my mother must of told me. But I really don’t want her to just be calm. I want her to take that temper and make things …

A Necessary Distance

Traffic had routinely backed up along Tamaki Drive. Single passenger cars hugged the distant bays, a winding conveyer belt of middle class life. I felt optimistic because of the icy blue harbour and Rangitoto Island. I thought it was perhaps one of my last chances to absorb the view. And even so, it didn’t look any different; I only saw the backdrop of our daily commute. Perhaps for my mum, this view looked like the vast space between familiarity and possibility. As we turned onto Kepa Road, I switched radio stations so we could dance in our seats, her fists still firmly gripped at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. She always tells me that she wishes she had become a dancer. In a week she’ll be driving alone and in this same week I will be getting lost on the New York subway, missing the convenience and security of this car. The monotony of these commutes always reminds me of the novel Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick. It is a book I renewed twice and …

Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas |Te Takakau tapu o Barricades | Blessed Virgin of the Barricades

Oracion – Prayer – Te Karakia (1) You, who were born on the street amid subversive graffiti, keep alive the flame of rebellion We whose multi-coloured spray made the miracle of your Incarnation You, who stand on an old tyre, crush the demons of capitalist domination Artist, eco-architect and champion of the people’s media – the poster, Xavier de la Cueva Meade lives in the hills of Whaingaroa-Raglan with his partner, Carolyna Hart. His motherland is Mexico. You actually cannot take Mexico outta the boy. The spirit of Emiliano Zapata is his guardian angel and Santisima Virgen de las Barrikadas is always interceding on his behalf to the heart of indigenous Mexico. Meade is an artist suspicious of America and the many manifestations of colonial powers and multi-national corporations, or ‘demonic’ capitalism. In 2003-4, I had the honour of teaching in the studio next to Meade, Xavier de la Cueva Meade at the School of Media Arts in the Drawing and Design faculty. Slowly learning about the depth of conviction he had for the indigenous …