All posts filed under: On Culture

Haruki Murakami at The Auckland Writers Festival

A quiet hum settles around the full-to-capacity ASB theatre that, for this event sold out in three days. John Freeman recites the history of Haruki Murakami who has published best sellers both in Japan and Internationally. He is known as a contemporary Japanese author who attracts critical attention from the Japanese literary establishment for his un-Japanese fiction. Thunderous applause erupts as Haruki walks onto the stage wearing a green ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ t-shirt under his dinner jacket. Small and athletic, he looks much younger than his 69 years. When asked questions, Haruki often replies in a slow deliberate manner. ‘ I wanted to write,’ pause, ‘ I was afraid I cannot write,’ and the audience waits, ‘so I caught the fear in my palms. I started to write.’ Haruki wrote a 200-page novel titled Hear The Wind Sing, and entered it in a literary competition. It won and so began his writing career. Haruki describes how he wakes at 4am, makes a coffee, plays quiet jazz music and sits down to write. ‘When …

SOS Blak Australia

In Narrm Melbourne, in Kulin Nation lands and waters, we are used to protesting injustice and being the loudest voice in Australia. Around 8,000 at a conservative estimate attended the sit-in protest, more cleansing ceremony than an angry mob taking over the city. Despite what the conservative media here say, this is a movement towards Aboriginal sovereignty and land rights being recognised and enshrined in a future Treaty. The international support, from all over the world, but particularly all over Aotearoa, continues to build on existing relationships of solidarity and shared struggle for decolonisation and Indigenous rights. The presence of Marama Fox at the most recent protest, carrying with her the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and the tautoko of thousands, brought tears to our eyes and gladdened our hearts. We are in this together. Melbourne based artist Léuli Eshraghi On Friday night I attended my first protest on Queen Street, the protest was against the closure of over 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. Myself along with a couple of fellow artists, who make socially conscious …

On male allies

On male allies in our local art, activist and music scene: As an 18 year old fresh out of high school – one brimming with misogynists, abusers, rapists and the ‘Roastbusters’- encountering men who wore nail polish, had heard of bell hooks, and derided dude bro masculinity was a welcome change. A combination of naivety, loneliness, and a vague sense of optimism meant that I put these men and their social circles on a pedestal that I wished to join. This didn’t happen. Very quickly I realised that these men were no different to the ones I had spent five years trapped in class with. Except,  they had more insidious and sinister ways of concealing their misogyny. This admittedly was a hard blow. I had felt hope and a sense of solidarity, and now distrust, anger and fear. Despite my social circle’s feminist and radical leanings many of us continue to welcome and support these abusive and misogynistic men. Self-described feminist artists/musicians/designers have revealed themselves to be anything but. Still to this day little effort …

The Political Apparition of Cherry Lazar

Cherry Lazar is one of New Zealand’s best-known contemporary artists. The sheer weight of articles from the Herald, Stuff, Woman’s Weekly, and of-course, Whale Oil blog posts testify to the fact that Lazar has entered New Zealand’s popular consciousness in a way few artists ever do. Seems impressive, particularly for a twenty-two year old. Though to most of us Lazar is known by her first alias, that of Stephanie Key, daughter of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. ‘The Family’ has become part of the holistic representation of political lives, and its members evoked as political objects by media and politicians. Spouses, parents, children, and even pets are increasingly considered fair game for a media fixated on character assessments. It’s hardly fair, and yet the unique privileges afforded to the accouterments of power must be some kind of compensation. Whether it be Barrack’s dog Boa, Bill’s wife Hillary (now, Hillary’s husband Bill), or even Helen’s quiet companion, Peter, families are part of the tempo of today’s personality politics. The public was first introduced to Stephanie …

New Zealand’s Vanishing Medium

A few weeks ago I saw Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Civic, part of the New Zealand International Film Festival’s Autumn Series. During the interval (yes, an interval, apparently the way Kubrick originally intended it to be shown) a friend observed that movie-going is becoming a special event. It’s true, going to the cinema is becoming antiquated, a non-essential mean of consuming film in an age of the Pirate Bay and, if you’ll believe them, Lightbox. Our environment naturally emphasised this view, the Civic’s warm stately glow, the glittering flamingos and crouching tigers. And then the film was introduced in person by the director of the NZIFF, and was concluded by enthusiastic applause. Definitely an event. Despite all this, as I sat watching HAL‘s murderous campaign I had a nagging feeling that my options for watching films are dwindling and that, paradoxically, going to the Civic may soon become my only option if I want to see certain films. This probably sounds crazy. The Civic may have been one of New Zealand’s first movie …

Blam Spam Thank You Sam

Spam. What is it? A question which has no doubt crossed the mind of anyone who has for the first time devoured the contents of a can of this most ubiquitous frankenfood. Spam sludged it’s way into an unsuspecting post war global consciousness (and stomach) with relative ease. It is one of a select group of consumer food products that has been absorbed into a multitude of local diets, transcending it’s role as a “Specially Processed American Meat”. The story of Spam is an American one, but it’s origins are deeply entrenched in the front lines of the Napoleonic wars. “An army marches on it’s stomach” are words made famous by Napoleon Bonaparte, words that the French Emperor had difficulty fulfilling during his conquest of Europe. In 1795 Napoleon offered up 12,000 francs as reward to anyone who could devise a method of preserving food that would help keep the troops on the front line moving forward and fed. In 1810 the challenge was taken up by a French confectioner by the name of Nicolas …

ANZAC:  The Tradition of Heroic Remembrance

On the morning of the 25th of April 1915, troopers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed on the hill-topped coves of Gallipoli. The landings, and the disastrous eight months on the peninsula that followed, have been heralded as New Zealand’s ‘baptism of fire’, and attained a mythological status. The Anzacs of Gallipoli, and the public holiday that commemorates them, have become representative of New Zealand’s overseas military history, from the Boer War, to the recent deployment in Iraq.  Gallipoli remains the key imagining of New Zealand’s military past, an origin story of heroism that binds the nation’s imagined community together in remembrance. The centenary of the Gallipoli landings marks a new era in the practice of World War 1 remembrance. Since the 1997 passing of Alfred Douglas Dibley, the last veteran of Gallipoli, Anzac has entered a realm of cultural imagining. Increasingly detached from the trauma of war, the Anzacs are today an expression of popular masculinity stemming from the nations military traditions. The Digger (slang for an Australian or New …

Remembering Jonathan Mane-Wheoki

My iTunes library is a mottled, aging archive: shuffle has repeatedly proved a source of embarrassment, and in consequence remains turned off.  Yet yesterday, of its own accord, my playlist shuffled.  An unlabelled track started playing.  I found myself listening to the sound of my own voice, squeaking a deferential greeting.  A heavy-sounding microphone bumps around. The voice that replies to mine has a dignified boom, and the English-accented clip.  And I recognize the recording. The speaker is Professor Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (Ngāpuhi/Te Aupouri/Ngāti Kuri and, yes, English descent).  It is May 2011: Mane-Wheoki is two years into his post as Head of Elam School of Fine Arts, and I am a third-year student. Before the interview, I hadn’t had much to do with Professor Mane-Wheoki, although he’d appeared sketched in my journal, puffed up with pride, saying cartoonishly “I’m as pleased as punch.”  I was a shy undergraduate, and my head of school seemed as inaccessible to me as everything else – my peers, my lecturers, and, naturally, my purpose in being at art school …

The Social Symposium

From April 9 to April 11 Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC or fa-kak) hosted the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival (CPAF or see-paf) which included a 2 day symposium. I spoke on the Indigenous Intellectual Property Panel about the role of the writer. After a very academic, over theorised, over talked two days I’m struggling to find the words, any words really to articulate my experience. So instead I thought I would summarise my symposium experience into 10 tweet sized (140 characters) sound bites with images I found on the internet. Do you mean that parasitic relationship between the artist and the critic? Back patters is a nice word for circle jerk I’m just a little confused about what your trying to do? Sorry thats the last slide All I wanted to be was a Mother Fucking Artist B.Arch It’s like cultural health and safety If you’re going to fuck someone over at least fuck them openly Every panel has a rouge The most important thing is a succession plan   Art is a weird place …