Whakanuia: December's celebration of great stuff
This month: Jessicas Hansell and Rabbit, Film on Film, 100 Days, Co-Revolutionary Allies, Contemporary Hum and White Ribbon
100 Days of Glory
The 100 days project – people doing one creative thing a day for 100 days – finished on 1 December, with sighs of relief and whoops of delight from participants around the world. (At least, we imagine that was the reaction; one will-o-the-wisp Pantograph Punch member may have given up all the way back in August.)
The brainchild of designer Emma Rogan, 100 days is a great way for professionals and amateurs alike to experiment. A quick look at the projects this week netted us dolly pegs, trippy skies and blackout poetry (the results look exquisitely modernist); painting with a sewing machine and a daily flat-lay of plastic from Ruby Bay. Someone in Tokyo created a deck of traditional Japanese karuta playing cards that feature supernatural beings called yokai. Artist Barry Ross Smith carried out one of the more impressively committed projects: “to paint the almost missing. An image of an endangered New Zealand species painted onto the side of a milk carton; in a similar way that missing people are published in America.” Clever.
A real life, in-the-flesh exhibition of the work of some of the participants is on in Lower Hutt, until this Sunday, 18 December, with an Auckland show scheduled for February 25-26 next year at Thievery Studios on Karangahape Road. Go, and be inspired to join in next time.
Like Aretha Said
We totally respect White Ribbon’s 2016 Respectful Relationships campaign. In particular, we’re extremely pleased that many of its evidence-based messages are positive – suggesting what to do, as well as what not to do. It’s pro-respect as well as anti-violence. So for every poster saying “No” there’s another saying “Yes” – pointing out how to build a healthy relationship, and what men and women can aim for and expect from each other. Each pairing even puts the “Yes” before the “No”: “Yes to giving her some space” and “No to putting her in her place”. “Yes to talking it out with her” and “No to taking it out on her”.
As the organisation notes, most men have respectful relationships with women so the campaign “is strengthening common behaviour and attitudes” as well as addressing risk factors for male violence and promoting “skills that protect against violence” such as non-violent communication skills.
The goal, then, is not just a minimum. It’s not just tolerable relationships involving no threat of physical violence. Instead the goal is strong, healthy relationships based on mutual respect. A great on-going goal for all of us.
Tim Wong’s recent persuasive revisionist revisiting of Desperate Remedies reminded us of his 2015 documentary Out of the Mist. This excellent film essay offers an ‘alternate history of New Zealand cinema’ to Sam Neill’s classic and influential Cinema of Unease (Mist includes some Unease clips, demonstrating that Neill’s 1995 buttoned-up shirt makes him look like a spare Crowded House member). Wong offers snippets from a bunch of mainstream and obscure Aotearoa films in a fascinated potted history of what we could have been known for, instead of orcs. Bonuses: the 80-minute film is free to view, starts with Orson Welles (Orson Welles!) attempting te reo Māori, and is narrated by Eleanor Catton, because why not.
We’re long-time fans of musician/rapper/writer/comic artist/philosofly girl Coco Solid (Jessica Hansell). Aotearoa would be far poorer without her work, her smart opinions and her whole DIY get-it-out-there indie approach. (As she puts it: “Depending on who you ask, I'm also a mentor and an activist - but I just call that not being an egg.”) She’s giving everyone the opportunity to support her awesome mahi on Booster because “I wanted to try something different from the arts funding racket, working on stuff I hate and my stressful freelance work as a paid killer”. Amen to that, and people have already pledged well over the $5000 she was aiming for. The crowdfunding offer ends Saturday. For your own sakes, hurry!
How can we be allies to causes or to people that we are not directly affected by? How can we make sure we are helping and not benefiting personally? These were likely considerations for Sakiko Sugawa as she accompanied Tāmaki Housing Group activists “resisting the Glen Innes evictions and privatization of public housing” as part of her 2014 ST PAUL St Gallery fellowship.
Following her project, the gallery has this month launched Co-revolutionary Praxis: Accompaniment as a strategy for working together. The title is a bit of a mouthful, but the book is sharp. It engages with the idea of ‘accompaniment’ as outlined by long-time academic and activist Staughton Lynd in Accompanying: Pathways to Social Change: ‘There's an element of mystery, of openness, in accompaniment. I'll go with you and support you on our journey wherever it leads. I'll keep you company and share your fate for a while. And by “a while,” I don't mean a little while. Accompaniment is much more about sticking with a task until it's deemed completed by the person or people being accompanied, rather by the accomagnateur.’
Containing both international and local content, the book includes contributions by Tāmaki Housing Group member Lisa Gibson; David Harvey; Grant H. Kester; Ella Grace McPherson-Newton; and Mary N. Taylor, as well as Sugawa herself. Bonus: if you buy the book ($30), all the money goes direct to Tāmaki Housing Group.
Slaying Jessica Rabbit
One of our number votes for Sleigh Bells’ Jessica Rabbit as their favourite pop album of the year. The Brooklyn duo’s aesthetic matches 1980s synth and white-working-class Madonna with horror-pop – running mascara, gasoline-soaked brides, and a polite smattering of tombstones. The cover art looks like a Francis Bacon painting of a cat but it’s an elephant stampede. The tracks lurch between tempos – not tidily like Franz Ferdinand but as messy as a new driver crunching gears. As one reviewer puts it: “Jessica Rabbit may resemble a party coming apart at the seams, but it's still a party.” Here at the end of the world, we learn to dance.
A great new tune
Given the large contingent of artists from Aotearoa New Zealand who make their homes elsewhere, and the importance of discussing art across artificial international boundaries, we are delighted that a website has been launched “to generate critical discussion and provide greater visibility of New Zealand visual arts and creative disciplines presented overseas.”
Contemporary Hum is run by Pauline Autet and Winsome Wild, New Zealand art professionals based in Paris and “is initially targeting projects taking place in Europe in 2017, with plans to cover global events in the future”. We particularly enjoyed Jodie Dalgleish’s discussion of the new work of Andre Hemer, winner of this year’s Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award, and Chris Winwood’s take on the Venice Architecture Biennale.