All posts filed under: On Culture

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 …

Morning musings

It’s 8.46am on a Wednesday morning and I’m siting inside one of the new cafes that has popped up on Karangahape Road. I’m drinking a flat white because they don’t make mocha’s here. My breakfast is in my bag. I’m balling on a budget. There are two other people that are on their Mac Books. I make person number three. The furniture is that kind of Ikea-wooden-exposed-table-top type thing. The people coming inside are young and trendy looking. Next door is the new cookie place that sells American style cookies for $3.50 (the Snickers and Nutella are my favourite). The South Auckland girls that go to Auckland Girls’ Grammar are making tracks to school. From my seat I can see the rainbow flags above family bar. I remember my first time clubbing on K Road. Wasted, blurs of faces, lights and music that you feel vibrating in your body. Kebabs are the best at 4am. The Samoan consulate has moved to Mangere. I don’t see as many Pacific people go into the building anymore. Recently I …

43 things I have learnt while working in an art museum.

1. When it’s raining it’s generally busier. 2. Video is the new black. 3. More and more shows are for entertainment. 4. Curators tend to pack exhibitions with as many artists as they can, more is more apparently and I think this is a bad idea.  5. I see a lot of couples, it seems to be the perfect place for a date, perhaps I will go on one too, but I won’t cause I work there. 6. Sometimes the architecture is more impressive than the art according to visitors. 6. People don’t like paying for art exhibitions but it’s the norm in many places. 7. Kids can say the best things about art; we forget to take art at face value sometimes. 8. People hit on the gallery assistants all the time, remember we are paid to be friendly, emotional labor is no easy feat. 9. People generally look at the wall text first; for once it would be nice to have none at all. They are so prosaic, but for good reason. I …

Writing about writing

I’ve reverted to writing about writing.  And fair warning, I have nothing conclusive to say. Almost a year ago now I left Wellington. I bummed off my parents for a bit, went travelling and eventually moved to Australia. Up until that point I was writing regularly, for #500words, Design Assembly, the Wellington City Council, and a few other smaller artsy publications. I had been working at Enjoy Public Art Gallery for almost two years, and was in my fourth year (on and off) tutoring in the design programme at Victoria University. Without really appreciating it I was constantly surrounded by extremely talented creative people. Curators, artists, writers, photographers, designers, illustrators; world-view-altering over-coffee musings were weekly (I lie, sometimes we drank beer). 1. Working for Enjoy was — to put it simply — a very cool experience. I met amazing people, people who I still look up to and work with, and wish happy birthday on Facebook. I hope I appreciated it at the time, but I certainly appreciate it now. The most remarkable thing about …

Fat Maui: how he broke the internet

In the last week my Facebook feed has been full of critiques about Maui’s representation in the upcoming Disney film Moana, penned by New Zealand’s own Taika Waititi. This will be one in a sea of think pieces which have already started flowing here or here and even here on The Guardian. This was intensified after a meme surfaced comparing Maui to a pig and a hippo. To date it has 1247 shares and 2800 likes and climbing, doing it’s rounds in the Pacific Island community both in New Zealand and world wide. There are various arguments against the Disney depiction of Maui and many stem from comparing the build of Maui the Polynesian demigod (which people are calling obese to the point of perpetuating stereotypes) to real-life buff Pacific actors who play non-Pacific often European heroes such as Samoan The Rock Dwayne Johnson as Hercules or Hawaiian Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Even characters such as King Triton from The Little Mermaid aren’t safe from the crossfire. The non-Hollywood representation of deities across different cultural landscapes …

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 …

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 …

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, …