Whakanuia: 5 Things Worth Celebrating in September 2017
Our monthly list of awesome mahi to look forward to, featuring an exhibition at Blue Oyster Project Space, Political Cutz, great reads and the Kōanga Festival.
Between television, social media and all your other vices usually used for escapism it is pretty hard to hide from the looming election – the promises, the scandals and the bad hair. Politics isn’t the worst thing, but it’s not for everyone that’s for sure. This month, our editorial team have recommended a range of shows, reads and experiences that we think are well worth celebrating and might take your mind of the conversation of the nation.
The arts typically gets shut out of serious conversation during the election; the electorate at large is apparently not as concerned about New Zealand's film and television and theatre and music and visual art as they are concerned about an app to tell them where they can freedom camp. God bless Barbarian Productions for finding ways to force art back into the conversation, though. They've just re-opened Political Cutz, a pop-up hair salon that comes to life during elections and offers up free haircuts in exchange for an honest and open chat about politics, and later this month they're running their annual Spring Uprising festival at Vogelmorn Bowling Club. There's events like a 'speed dating' session for artists and social organisations and a (by now obligatory) screening of I, Daniel Blake, and they're running a Kid's Polling Booth in the lead-up to the election so that they, too, can experience the thrill of existential despair about the state of their country. (The Spring Uprising programme says that the kids can vote for "whatever they want", so maybe voting for puppies makes people feel differently.)
Both are exciting provocations at their heart, ways of getting reluctant New Zealanders to talk about politics and to think about the arts as intrinsic to our understanding of our politics and our society. And, I mean, I need a haircut, so.
Political Cutz is running until the 9th of September at the corner of Lambton Quay and Stout Street; Spring Uprising takes place at Vogelmorn Bowling Club from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd September.
Struggle (curated by Catarina de Peters, with contributions from Lucy Zee, Courtney Evans and Irasa Teofilo) is a breath of fresh air out of July's Auckland Zinefest. As de Peters says in her intro, "Struggle aims to comfort and heal its reader. It's a space for breathing, for not nursing anyone but yourself." Radical self-care gets thrown around a lot, but Struggle draws on an older and way more generous zine tradition of women writing for themselves and for their peers, creating a localised world of protection and humour. Best part is how Auckland it feels- whether its a list of Top 5 bangers to play in the long and awkward line to the Ponsonby Rd KFC drive-thru or getting John Campbell's daughter's backpack in your face at West Lynn Superette.
Cora-Allan Wickliffe (Ngapuhi, Tainui, Alofi and Liku) and Daniel Twiss (Lakota, Sioux, Rosebud Reservation) are not only parents to Chaske-Waste but have also come together to make the latest exhibition Generation Housing NZ at Blue Oyster Art Project Space in Dunedin. The exhibition centres on Wickliffe’s family state house of 28 years which has now been vacated for development. Through time-based practice, Wickliffe and Twiss use indigenous methodologies to create video portraits on government purchased land for social housing. I am not missing this one.
Sarah Jane Barnett
It was National Poetry Day on 25 August, and we celebrated with a poetry mixtape and poetry collection picks. As someone who reads poetry to my kid, I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from adding poetry for children to both pieces. This was because The Sapling, an Aotearoa website all about children’s books, had it covered.
For National Poetry Day they asked poet Paula Green to put together an 'A to Z' of some of her favourite children’s poetry reads. While most New Zealand poetry books for children are out-of-print, you can find them in libraries. The best of the lot has to be A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children which is being reprinted in November.
Pōneke has a well-established Māori theatre whānau and it's exciting to see their Tāmaki Makaurau cousins expand and solidify in their work, as evidenced by events such as the steadily growing Kōanga Festival which kicked off over the weekend at Tāmaki's home for Māori theatre, Te Pou in New Lynn.
Now in its third year, and partly taking inspiration from Indigenous playwriting festivals across the Tasman, the Kōanga Festival includes performances, masterclasses and workshops of new work. I'm most excited about the four new plays that will get their first public readings at the festival: Provocation by Aroha Awarau, Little Black Bitch by Jason Te Mete, Te Papakāinga by Maraea Rakuraku and Huia Kaimanawa by Krystal-Lee Brown. Find out more about the festival and book tickets here.