The Lowdown #55: Brave Voices Shout Louder

Aldous Harding - photo via Rolling Stone.
Ngā Hine Pūkōrero - photo via RNZ.
Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival - photo via DANZ.
Rodney Bell onstage in Meremere - photo via DANZ.
Dominic Hoey hauls over the arts media in Aotearoa to amplify some important voices


Brave New Voices: Ngā Hine Pūkōrero

After besting the competition in Australasia, slam poetry group Ngā Hine Pūkōrero travelled to compete in the world’s largest youth poetry competition, Brave New Voices

The three day competition took place in LA and featured some of the best young poets from across the globe. The group ended up coming 12th out of 50 teams, an amazing achievement for the first-timers. 

While on the world stage, one of the young women used the platform to talk about problems affecting people back home.

Ngā Hine Pūkōrero - photo via RNZ

“There are a number of issues throughout Aotearoa that afflict Māori,  like poverty, mental illness, depression” one of the poets Matariki Bennet said, “Most of the time the only thing that is seen by the world is the beauty on the surface.”

This is the first time anyone from our part of the world has competed at Brave New Voices.

Renee rewarded for writing women’s roles

89-year-old author, Renee Taylor, received the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction last year. Though Renee has had a successful career as a writer, penning a number of novels and plays, she didn’t start writing until she was 50. She quickly made a name for herself writing about domestic violence, contraception, pregnancy, lesbian rights and many more subjects that were taboo at the time.

"I really wanted women to be centre stage,” Taylor said speaking about her work, “I wrote plays first and I made no secret of the fact that I was there to write great roles for women and they weren’t going to be there because they were someone's cousin or sister or mother, they were going to be there out front because they were the hero.”

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival - photo via DANZ

Festivals feel permission to experiment

Audio Foundation will be home to the inaugural Outlier Festival, taking place in mid-August. The line up includes a wide variety of experimental artists including, Ducklingmonster an audio-visual artist from Onehunga, pianist Hermione Johnson and Jamie Awakshidar, an emo dream-pop outfit based in Wellington. Tickets are on sale now. 

Another festival having its first run this year is the Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival, being held in the Gisborne region this October. The festival promises events by hundreds of performers from across New Zealand and the Pacific.

This includes a staging of the new production of Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, by poet Tusiata Avia. The stage adaptation is directed by Victor Rodger and features an all females cast bringing Tusiata’s incurable poetry to life. 

There's also a showcase of some of New Zealand’s most iconic musicians entitled Under An East Coast Moon. Anika Moa, Dave Dobbyn, Annie Crummer, Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha and Teeks will all grace the stage. This week’s best read story on The Big Idea was this story 'Where the sun begins'.

Rodney Bell hitting the road 

Dancer Rodney Bell, who’s performing at Te Tairāwhiti, is bringing back his award-winning performance work, Meremere after a successful tour of Aotearoa in 2018. Meremere is an autobiographical work, that centres around Rodney’s extraordinary life that has included everything, from touring internationally as a dancer to being homeless on the streets of San Francisco. The multimedia performance piece is directed by Malia Johnston and includes AV by award-winning designer Rowan Pierce, and live music from Eden Mulholland. As well as performing at Te Tairāwhiti Rodney will be hitting the road, stopping in Ōtaki, Nelson, Christchurch, Hokitika, and Oamaru with more dates to be announced. 

Rodney Bell onstage in Meremere - photo via DANZ.

Podcast Art Not Science  

The Physics Room Contemporary Art Space has launched a brand new podcast called Art Not Science. The podcast comes out monthly and will feature artist talks, panel discussions, and other events that give some more insight into our exhibitions. The first episode features Tuafale Tanoa’i, aka Linda.T,  a Samoan-heritage artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Linda T wears many hats including photographer, DJ, queer rights activist and multimedia artist. Her exhibition 'Spontaneous Intentionality' is opening on the 27th of July with a party that’ll feature music, poetry, and a fashion show. 

Who has the talking stick now? 

India Essuah reviews 'Inheritance' for Pantograph Punch, a theatre show by Jess Holly Bates and Forest Kapo, that describes itself as a “quivering sitcom of the colonial present, a friendly romp through class-based inequalities, asking questions like:

How is citizenship distributed? Where have all the houses gone? And, who has the talking stick now?” In her review, India talks about how the show doesn’t present easy answers to the above questions and instead explores what it means to keep talking and listening to each other about these issues. 

“Inheritance offers new frameworks for looking to the future, without discarding the past” 

Dawn Raids

Pataka Art + Museum in Porirua is playing host to the exhibition, The Dawn Raids: Educate to Liberate. The month-long exhibition shines a spotlight on a dark period of New Zealand's history in the 1970s, when the government persecuted Pasifika people overstaying their visas.

In July, if you step into Pataka Art + Museum's gallery, you’ll find yourself walking into a lounge straight from the 1970s. Author and curator, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith’s worked with some of the original Polynesian Panthers, to recreate a 1970’s lounge room where people can look at photos on the walls and watch documentaries from the era.

New Zealand Music Around The World 

Josie Adams interviewed musician Aldous Harding over on the Spinoff about live TV, maturity, and the weirder interpretations of her songs.

The former Christchurch resident, now based in Wales, has been going from strength to strength since releasing her debut album back in 2014. As well as regularly touring the globe, she recently performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She’s returning to our shores in August to do a run of shows in the main centres to promote her latest album, the critically acclaimed 'Designer'  

Gareth Shute continues documenting the legends of New Zealand music on AudioCulture. This week he explores the career of Kirk Harding (no relation), the man responsible for signing, DLT, Che Fu, and Urban Pasifika and launching the careers of Smash Proof. Gareth follows Kirk’s career from working behind the counter at the Sounds store on Queen Street to being the VP of Marketing at Loud Records in New York. 

Art Of Seeing

Filmmaker, Shirley Horrocks spoke to Lynn Freeman on Standing Room Only about her documentary on Photographer Peter Peryer. The film, entitled Peter Peryer The Art Of Seeing, follows the life of the largely self-taught artist who passed away at age 77 last year. Among his many achievements, Peter was a Fulbright Scholar and was awarded an ONZM for his contribution to photography. The film premieres on Sunday, July 28th at the Auckland Waterfront Theatre.  

Passing of Arts Personality

Some sad news, Wellington arts personality and prolific ceramics collector Simon Manchester passed away last week. Simon was a passionate collector of New Zealand pottery, it’s reported that every room in his apartment was filled with art pieces.  

His collection featured pots by many of the countries best know potters including, Roy Cowan, Muriel Moodie and Chester Nealie, and Simon was a regular lender to Wellington's City Gallery. 

Written by

Dominic Hoey

24 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.

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