Lowdown #52: Marginalisation and Misunderstandings

Dominic Hoey highlights “What do you mean?” in this week’s Lowdown of arts and media.


Retracing History 

Over at AudioCulture, Gareth Shute has compiled this cool timeline of female singers from New Zealand who reached the Top 10 of either the NZ singles or album chart between 1975 and 2005. 

Household names like Bic Runga and Jan Hellriegel sit alongside lesser known, but no less important artists, like former OMC backing singer Sina. Through this timeline we can see how female musicians started breaking down the barriers of a male dominated music industry, and set the stage for all the incredible wahine making music in 2019.


What Do You Mean? 

Writer Mia Gaudin looks at three novels on the Pantograph Punch, Sharon Lam’s Lonely Asian Woman, Annaleese Jochems’ Baby and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. All three books feature female protagonists searching for meaning and escape from the lonely realities of 21st century capitalism.  

Speaking of looking for meaning, Auckland based poet and artist Vanessa Crofskey, writes about how art jargon often serves to alienate readers.  “My heart tells me that art should be public” Crofskey writes “That people should not feel ashamed about getting it ‘right’ or behaving ‘wrong’ when standing in front of a portrait”


Ans Westra, and Marginalised People 

The New Photography: Life in the 60s and 70s, is a new exhibition taking place at Te Papa. The show features the work of Gary Baigent, John Daley, Len Wesney, John Fields, Richard Collins, Max Oettli, John B Turner, and Ans Westra. It’s Ans Westra, that Howard Davis chooses to focus on in his article in Scoop. Westra documented marginalised people in her work, highlighting the economic and political divisions within New Zealand society. She went on to win numerous awards for her work and in April 2016, a museum was established in Cuba St, dedicated entirely to Westra's six decades of image-making.

Accompanying the exhibition is Athol McCredie's book, The New Photography - New Zealand’s first-generation contemporary photographers, which features not only the artists photos but also provides extensive interviews with the photographers themselves. 


NZ Hip Hop

Rapper, Mo Muse, performing in the Red Bull Studios 

It’s no secret that Aotearoa is a hotbed of hip hop talent these days. One of the biggest spring boards for young rappers who want to get noticed is Red Bulls 64 bars. The series, set up by hip hop veteran David Dallas, is now in its 8th season, and has helped shine light on the likes of Aotearoa’s hip hop mainstays, Jess B, Swidt’s INF and Melodowns. Hussein Moses went along to the recording of season 8 to witness three up and comers getting their moment in the spotlight. 


Expression of Mana Wahine

Onepū, a new production created by the renowned Atamira Dance Company, is embarking on a nationwide tour. Described by its makers “As an expression of mana wahine - the intrinsic spiritual power of women” The show, is choreographed by Louise Potiki Bryant and premiered in October with a one-off performance at the Tempo Dance Festival in Auckland

Another theatre production launching this month is Cellfish, which highlights the similarities between Shakespeare and the New Zealand justice system. Co-written by Jason Te Kare, Miriama McDowell and Rob Mokaraka, the play uses dark comedy to talk about a topic that's laden with emotion. 


Is Dunedin Aotearoa’s Art Capital?  

While Christchurch has been making noise recently about becoming the art capital of Aotearoa, Dunedin continues to quietly put on some great exhibitions. In this week's Art Seen, Robyn Maree Pickens reviews three exciting shows taking place in Otago biggest city. 

While Christchurch has been making noise recently about becoming the art capital of Aotearoa, Dunedin continues to quietly put on some great exhibitions.

Artist and theatre maker Alice Canton’s OTHER [Otepoti Chinese] opened at the Blue Oyster gallery. The show is described as giving Dunedin's Chinese population a chance to talk about their identity as part of a unique theatre-art work. 

Nicola Jackson’s ''Venus Fly Traps’', on at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (DPAG), is re-presentation of Nicola Jackson's original 1990 exhibition. The exhibition comprises of 17 papier-mache vases holding artificial flowers swarming with oversized depictions of flies. DPAG says “Venus Fly Traps explores the idea of fatal attraction through a series of ‘receptacles’ and ‘lures.’”

Also at DPAG is Alex Monteith’s ''Ka paroro o haumumu: Coastal Flows / Coastal Incursions’’. The video work exhibition is described as “collaborative project between mana whenua, researchers, institutions and the artist.” 


Return to Cloud Mountain

Award winning poet Nina Powles beautiful poem, Return to Cloud Mountain, is featured on Hainamana. The poem is in repose to installation work, Return to Skyland that was held at Te Papa last year, by another award winning artist, Kerry Ann Lee.  


Container Homes and Children's Books 

Kimberly Andrews illustrations of her home and studio 

“now I spend a lot more time going out for long walks, pulling funny faces in the mirror and playing”

It’s always fascinating to read about how artists make their work. Illustrator, Kimberly Andrews talked to the Sapling about her daily creative routine, her home and studio. This interview also features some of Andrews amazing illustrations detailing her home (a converted shipping container tiny home) family and sketches from her new project Song of the River. Andrews also discusses the realities of being a full time artist with a young child “Having a baby has changed the way I work” Andrews says, “now I spend a lot more time going out for long walks, pulling funny faces in the mirror and playing.”


Judy Darragh Upcycling 

Bee Stunning by Judy Darragh - photo via Christel Yardley / Stuff

Artist Judy Darragh, recently unveiled her latest installation Bee Stunning on a corner field at Hamilton Girls' High School. Darragh said the work is a sharp message about consumerism. But some students were concerned about the environmental impact of the work, which is made up of thousands of intricately decorated ping pong balls mounted on wooden sticks. Darragh, who has a reputation of using material not typically associated with high art, said "I can probably justify using these because in my general practice it's really sustainable, because I am using found objects, I'm not going and remaking new stuff, it's all upcycled.” 


Beastwars, Joseph Heller and the Death of Creative Writing Departments 

Beastwars Frontman, Matt Hyde

When Wellington band Beastwars broke up in 2016, they left a large hole in the local music scene. In 2017 lead singer Matt Hyde was diagnosed with cancer, and it was his battle with the disease that brought the band back together. Hyde spoke to RNZ Music’s Kirsten Johnstone, about music, cancer and taking the band back on the road. 

Last week Mark Amery wrote about how Whitireia is cutting it’s creative writing courses. But as Lynn Freeman points out on Standing Room Only, other departments around the country are also at threat. Freeman is joined by poet, Michael Steven a proud graduate of Manukau Institute of Technology, Whitireia writing teacher Mandy Hager AUT writing teacher and poet Siobhan Harvey. One of the interesting points raised, is how courses like the ones at MIT and Whitireia appeal to writers who wouldn’t feel comfortable in a university setting. 

2018 Ockham winner, Pip Adam went on RNZ to talk about books and war, after she saw billboards for a new television adaptation of Catch 22. On Jessie Mulligans show she reviews Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (2019) by Ocean Vuong and Ten Fragments of Primo Levi - An essay by Giacomo Lichtner.

Mining at MONA

Art and creativity advocate and director of the Chartwell Trust, Sue Gardiner spoke with Mark Amery on Standing Room Only this Sunday, about New Zealand artist Simon Denny’s latest exhibition. The show is entitled Mine and is being held at the MONA Hobart Tasmania. It’s Denny’s largest exhibition to date and explores the theme of data mining. Sue was also there for the Dark Mofo winter festival, and fills Mark in on why it wouldn't happen in New Zealand. There is a segment HERE in the Lowdown.  


Written by

Dominic Hoey

3 Jul 2019

Dominic Hoey is an author, playwright and poet based in Tāmaki Makaurau. His debut novel, Iceland was a New Zealand bestseller and was long-listed for the 2018 Ockham Book Award.

Ron Gallipoli. Supplied.
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