Loose Canons: Mya Morrison-Middleton
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.
Mya is a writer, facilitator and DJ based in Tāmaki Makaurau who works primarily with collectives Fresh and Fruity and Fully Explicit. She is from Dunedin and descended from Tahu Pōtiki. Having completed a Bachelor of Arts at Otago University Mya moved to Tāmaki in 2016. She is currently an intern in the MAI programme run by Toi Māori at Basement Theatre and she is a gemini with a leo moon and pisces rising. Mya's own writing-based practice explores connectivity as a tool and the space between language, art, narratives and digital technology. She often dreams in vain about quitting the creative industries to be a beekeeper by the coast. Mya's show Maumahara Girlie opens at Basement Theatre this week.
Fresh and Fruity
My good friend Hana Pera Aoake and I run Fresh and Fruity. Our work honestly keeps me going when the art world feels like the Hunger Games. Fresh and Fruity is an Indigenous collective based in Aotearoa. Founded in Ōtepoti as a physical space in 2014, it now exists entirely online. Fresh and Fruity’s work spans performance, writing, interventions, video, merchandise and curating. Our work has been shown and published across Aotearoa, as well as in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. Fresh and Fruity is a sexy new look designed to slowly smash the neocolonial heteropatriarchy one sarcastic hashtag at a time #workbitch #livelaughlove.
Everything we do is connective, collaborative and process-based. People often don’t understand how we can work so closely without getting caught up in authorship. We are literally always writing on top of each other in a google doc. Authorship and individualism are so tied up in colonial myth lol. Our work is playful but deals with heavy topics such as class, colonisation and capitalism. It works because we’re both Geminis and love to pop off at everything as a way of coping, but in like a funny way. I’m ‘fresh’ and Hana is ‘fruity’.
Fully Explicit is a club night in Auckland started by the OG Creami Mami, Brown Boy Magik and Lil Hoe on the Prairie. Fully Explicit is made for and by POC queer people. Creami is the only DJ I used to play for. For real. I started out playing with so many toxic male DJs who were just out for their own and would undermine me. Fully Explicit pays the ultimate respect to the tracks they play and the DJs who play them. The work Fully Explicit does reminds me of the push by other POC queer DJs and facilitators such as Venus X to reclaim clubs and dance floors across the world.
No one in Fully Explicit cares about the hierarchies of gear and software. Gear like CDJs and Serato is pretty inaccessible unless you have money or friends who are in the loop. We all started on Virtual DJ – there’s nothing wrong with it. So many established guys are out here just letting their gear carry their boring mixes and fetishizing music that wasn’t even made for them. Some of the best sets I’ve seen at Fully Explicit were blown out remixes on Virtual DJ with everyone going ham. CDJs ain’t gonna just hand you that.
I think a lot about a work Cat Ruka did at Dunedin Public Art Gallery during the Puaka Matariki festival in 2013 called Whiti-kaupeka. It was part of a performance art night called Nga Mihiz featuring works inspired by Matariki, pregnancy, death, and the digital age. One of the works was by my good friend Piu-Piu Maya Turei and Jos van Beek called Hello World where they turned atua and myth into a computer game. In Cat’s performance she was heavily hapū and wearing these roller skates moving precariously around the gallery. I remember there being a piano in the space and an eel that she picked up at one point. Both these performances were so solid and have stayed with me for ages.
All these MVPs
Reading and reclaiming all this literary whakapapa of Māori writers prompted me to come out of my post university disillusionment. I learned about none of these writers in school, idk how my education failed me so much. I started reading Woman Far Walking by Witi Ihimaera and then read Keri Hulme, Mihi Edwards, Patricia Grace, Robert Sullivan, Hone Kouka, Alice Tawhai and so many others a couple of years ago. Since then I felt a pull to use narratives as a way of writing people and experiences into existence. Māori writers are so clever in how they hold myth and dialect differences between iwi and manage to tell complex stories with so much richness and heart. Also the book Resistance edited by Maria Bargh on Neoliberalism and Indigenous resistance through collective action destroyed me. Such a good book.
My Mum and my Nana
My mum is my biggest influence. She’s a blunt virgo who can do anything on a budget and I love her for it. She’s always the one grounding me when I get too gassed up about anything or pulling me into line when I get flaky. She’s also the one reminding me of what accomplishments I should really hold on to. Whenever I write, I try to write for and to her. When I’m making work I like to think I am beholden to the work, the intention and who is engaging with it, but in reality I’m beholden to my mum. Seeing my nana always feels like home. When I’m writing I always imagine myself in her lounge which is colour-coded to red, white and black. All her stuff is in the tino colours or covered in diamantes. It’s mean.
Maumahara Girlie runs from 3-7 July at the Basement Theatre. Tickets available here.