Loose Canons: Dominic Hoey
Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.
Dominic Hoey is an Auckland-based poet, author and musician. Dominic has released five critically-acclaimed studio albums, two books of poetry, four short films, a one-man show and a best-selling novel.
In 2012, Dominic was accepted into the N.E.S artist residency in Iceland, where he started his first novel. Iceland was released in June 2017 through Steele Roberts. The novel went on to spend six weeks in the New Zealand bestseller list, is on its second print run and has been longlisted for the 2018 Ockham Book Award. The book was also listed on The Listener's top 100 books of 2017 and The Spinoff's top 20 books of 2017. In a former life, Dominic was an MC battle- and slam-poetry champion. He also works as an arts mentor, teaching rangatahi excluded from mainstream education.
Dominic's one-man show Your Heart Looks Like a Vagina, a dark comedy about living with autoimmune disease, sold out its five-night run at Auckland’s Basement Theatre. It also went on to have seasons at Brisbane Poetry Festival and Lit Crawl Festival in Wellington. Luckily for audiences who missed the first season, the show returns to Basement Theatre in Auckland next week, and tours to BATS Theatre in Wellington the week after.
I’ve always disliked the idea of the auteur. In my experience, even the most controlling artists have unsung supporters and collaborators behind the scenes. I personally feel there’s nothing better than someone taking your idea and throwing it completely off course, opening all sorts of new possibilities and options, shining a light on a hole in your work to reveal it’s filled with spiders, old newspapers and broken cell phones.
Sometimes it’s as simple as telling somebody what you’re working on and letting it grow as you verbalise it, or having a confidante who’s comfortable saying “that sucks” about the thing that you knew wasn’t up to scratch but were trying to push through anyway.
I think artistic collaboration is one of the rare times that people get to come together in our society that doesn’t revolve around drinking and spending money, and that in itself should be celebrated.
Chris Marker – Sans Soleil
When I first saw Sans Soleil as a kid, it scared and confused me. To this day, the disconnection between the images and words is jarring. The film could loosely be described as a documentary, a collection of video footage cut together with a sound poem that meditates on the nature of human memory. None of the images have their original sound and you quickly become a voyeur as the camera moves through the streets of Japan. The technology used in the film is incredibly dated, but this adds to the strange haunting feel of the film.
This probably all sounds really pretentious, but it’s a beautiful work with some incredible footage and writing. When I was working on the play and found myself too stuck in my own voice, I’d watch a few minutes of this film to jolt me into a different place. I’m pretty sure it’s up on YouTube and I encourage you to check it out.
I’ve never understood people who make art in the daytime. It’s like sleeping standing up or asking the dog to cook dinner. All the good stuff happens after midnight when the rest of the city sleeps, on the night shift, with the road workers, taxi drivers, graffiti artists and insomniacs.
In this country where everyone knows each other’s secrets and the pool of funding and opportunities is ankle-deep, there’s a tendency for artists to bite down on their tongues rather than the hand that feeds. What I Iove about the FAFSWAG collective (apart from their boundless creativity and originality) is not only their uncompromising attitude towards art and politics but the fact that they have been so successful while bucking against convention.
Co-founder Tanu Gago’s recent call out of CNZ felt like a breath of fresh air precisely because so few people dare question the decisions of our leading arts funder. Their work serves as a healthy reminder that important art and ideas rarely come from the within the status quo.
When I was 15, my girlfriend at the time gave me a copy of Blood and Guts in high school and instructed me, “You have to read this”. The name alone had me hooked. But over the coming days, I gave myself a migraine trying to make sense of Acker's writing.
Acker does away with traditional narrative structure and instead mixes her own life experience with other people’s writing to create this amazing dissonance on the page. It was the first time I realised that words and meaning can be played with like notes on a piano and that making sense was optional.
I recently read Chris Kraus’ biography, and though Kraus does her best to dispel a lot of the magic around Acker's work, I still find it so inspiring that someone created their own writing style and for a brief period became a rock star of literature.