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Issue , 2014

The International Issue

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News

  • Terrace-firma

  • International Cash Cows Mis-teeted

  • Treaty obligations? What Treaty obligations?

  • An Interview with Louise Nicholas

  • Terrace-firma

  • International Cash Cows Mis-teeted

  • Treaty obligations? What Treaty obligations?

  • An Interview with Louise Nicholas

  • Features

  • winston

    An argument with Winston

    Winston Peters has dominated the NZ political landscape for the past three decades. After much convincing, Salient had a chat with him over the phone to talk about immigration and youth issues. Boy is he colourful.

    by

  • rdingincabs

    Riding in Cabs with Taxi-Drivers

    I wanted to hear a taxi-driver’s tales unmediated, and wanted an outside perception of the New Zealand experience.

    by

  • stayorgo

    Should they stay or should they go?

    Scottish students’ perspectives on the independence referendum.

    by

  • longwaYcute

    A long way from home

    We all do it: complain about how hard life is. But there are people whose lives have been infinitely harder than ours. To get a bit of perspective, we spoke with Ibrahim Omer, a refugee from the country of Eritrea in Africa.

    by

  • The Gates Within

    As we continue to tackle issues of accessibility and inequality here at Vic, it’s useful to look outwards to other universities and their efforts to deal with these problems.The Crimson is the student newspaper at Harvard University. Salient got in touch with them for this issue.

    by

  • winston

    An argument with Winston

    Winston Peters has dominated the NZ political landscape for the past three decades. After much convincing, Salient had a chat with him over the phone to talk about immigration and youth issues. Boy is he colourful.

    by

  • rdingincabs

    Riding in Cabs with Taxi-Drivers

    I wanted to hear a taxi-driver’s tales unmediated, and wanted an outside perception of the New Zealand experience.

    by

  • stayorgo

    Should they stay or should they go?

    Scottish students’ perspectives on the independence referendum.

    by

  • longwaYcute

    A long way from home

    We all do it: complain about how hard life is. But there are people whose lives have been infinitely harder than ours. To get a bit of perspective, we spoke with Ibrahim Omer, a refugee from the country of Eritrea in Africa.

    by

  • The Gates Within

    As we continue to tackle issues of accessibility and inequality here at Vic, it’s useful to look outwards to other universities and their efforts to deal with these problems.The Crimson is the student newspaper at Harvard University. Salient got in touch with them for this issue.

    by

  • winston

    An argument with Winston

    Winston Peters has dominated the NZ political landscape for the past three decades. After much convincing, Salient had a chat with him over the phone to talk about immigration and youth issues. Boy is he colourful.

    by

  • rdingincabs

    Riding in Cabs with Taxi-Drivers

    I wanted to hear a taxi-driver’s tales unmediated, and wanted an outside perception of the New Zealand experience.

    by

  • stayorgo

    Should they stay or should they go?

    Scottish students’ perspectives on the independence referendum.

    by

  • longwaYcute

    A long way from home

    We all do it: complain about how hard life is. But there are people whose lives have been infinitely harder than ours. To get a bit of perspective, we spoke with Ibrahim Omer, a refugee from the country of Eritrea in Africa.

    by

  • The Gates Within

    As we continue to tackle issues of accessibility and inequality here at Vic, it’s useful to look outwards to other universities and their efforts to deal with these problems.The Crimson is the student newspaper at Harvard University. Salient got in touch with them for this issue.

    by

  • winston

    An argument with Winston

    Winston Peters has dominated the NZ political landscape for the past three decades. After much convincing, Salient had a chat with him over the phone to talk about immigration and youth issues. Boy is he colourful.

    by

  • rdingincabs

    Riding in Cabs with Taxi-Drivers

    I wanted to hear a taxi-driver’s tales unmediated, and wanted an outside perception of the New Zealand experience.

    by

  • stayorgo

    Should they stay or should they go?

    Scottish students’ perspectives on the independence referendum.

    by

  • longwaYcute

    A long way from home

    We all do it: complain about how hard life is. But there are people whose lives have been infinitely harder than ours. To get a bit of perspective, we spoke with Ibrahim Omer, a refugee from the country of Eritrea in Africa.

    by

  • The Gates Within

    As we continue to tackle issues of accessibility and inequality here at Vic, it’s useful to look outwards to other universities and their efforts to deal with these problems.The Crimson is the student newspaper at Harvard University. Salient got in touch with them for this issue.

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • A VAGUE AWKWARDLY EXPRESSED HOSTILITY IS FUN FOR A BIT BUT THEN IT GETS OLD

    It is good and okay to be very sincere. In her essay on awkwardness, Elif Batuman charts the latter half of the 20th century as a collapse into irony; from capitalism as Christian morality in the ’50s, to countercultural resistance in the ’60s, moral bankruptcy in the ’70s, to capitalism as faith unto itself in the ’80s, to the vague disingenuousness of the ’90s. We are living now, according to Batuman, in irony’s wake. And it expresses itself ungracefully.

    There’s a perverse comfort in situating my own social ineptitude within a wider historical narrative. But this isn’t about me (he lied).

    The Peter McLeavey Gallery lacked nothing in sincerity. It lacked, rather, the self-confidence to commit to its own project. It so insistently advertised itself as belonging to somewhere else. The descriptor of “industrial, New York style” gallery felt a little embarrassing. As if everyone involved still considered themselves parochial in relation to the metropole. And we do, but that’s not the point. The point is that, to a degree, they were right. Spaces like that – high-ceilinged, wide, airy, concrete-floored spaces – don’t really exist in Wellington.

    Consider This an Offering takes place in such a space. The exhibition, which is being staged by four final-year Massey students, describes itself as a “playground for mindfulness” and features four installation works as well as a screening room displaying video work.

    At the opening, about three drinks in, I made a note on my phone which read, “David Koch’s sponsorship of the Met is not killing art. Pirate costumes, tie-dyed baggy pants, and animal pants ruin art.” Provided one enters the exhibition at the right time, one is first met with projectiles, bouncy balls, ricocheting off the ground, the walls, other bodies. For all its playful violence, Louise Rutledge’s piece operates most effectively as an interrogation of public space and its uses. The piece’s most interesting element is not its tactile nature, nor in the negation of the commodified art object in the presentation of something so easily dissolvable (and stealable, not that I did), but the ways in which interaction with the object, and the object’s relation to the space, is mediated by one’s comfort in the space. Hence the pirate-costume man, and the tie-dye-pant man, both of whom seemed so jubilous in their attacks by virtue, perhaps, of their existing eccentricity. Rutledge’s object does encourage the momentary dissolution of social order, yes, but it does so in a way that reveals the ways in which breakdown is mediated by gender, by costume, by an awareness of other bodies in a space, and by the lack of awareness of one’s own among others.

    Ruby Joy Eade’s billboards, as an anthropological exercise in scavenging disembodied text from break-up forums, can be hostile. There’s a risk that their presence in the gallery space is malicious, ironic, a snide laugh at an abstract other without the right of reply. I choose to believe, however, that there is nothing disingenuous about them. (Full disclosure: I may be biased; I’m friends with the artist’s friends. Ruby and I once yelled at each other at a party. I think about Adorno, or my iPhone. I can’t remember.) They position themselves closer to Miranda July, Jenny Holzer and Koki Tanaka’s unapologetic earnest faith in humanity. There’s something almost invasive in their banality. The profound sadness of decontextualised clichés – “take me back”, “i feel lost and confused”, “it’s tough seeing him so cold” – from a speaker both incorporeal and undeniably present. Eade has previously sewn phrases to garments in op-shop changing rooms, and erected billboards next to election campaigns. All contexts alarm, but in different ways. In a gallery, they offer a sense of the uncanny, born from the ambiguity of the text’s source; it’s unclear whether they act on the presumption of universality, or in the conquest of pathos towards an absent speaker.

    The other two works in the show operate both architecturally and ritually. On one side, Elisabeth Pointon’s piles of salt arranged in a circle (the remnants of a performance I missed); on the other, a large sandpit with a rake presented by Robbie Whyte. They’re quieter than the other works, allowing for meditation in the small rearrangements of existing objects. Accompanying the exhibition is a selection of books and zines from Art Print Space, relics of the artists’ research process. The exhibition, more than anything else, is generous, not just for its invitation to participate, but in the ways the works correspond with each other, and the ways in which the additional content provides many different points of entry simultaneously.

    PS I rearranged your books so that Alain de Botton was hidden from view. Love your work, sorry.

    Consider This an Offering is on display at 24 Marion St until 24 September.

    by

  • Silk

    This is another British show, aired by the BBC from 2011–2014. Which is three seasons, for those who aren’t arithmeticians. Don’t think it’s received any critical attention – probably because it’s not such a great show, all things considered. However, personally, I found the first season to be an absolute banger.

    Sadly, I also think the show succumbed to the second-season curse, which is another thesis/mockumentary I’ve been working on in my brain for a while now.

    It’d probably be helpful if we discussed what the thing’s actually about. There’s a reason I said some things before saying what it is…

    It’s a legal drama, guys. Concerning the day-to-day hustle and bustle of Shoe Lane where barristers abound, clerks dive and dodge, and judges run amok. I’m not exactly, precisely sure, but it seems like writing this in the uni library instead of in the safety of my own home is making things a bit weird with the prose in here. The judges don’t run amok. If anything, the show starts off reasonably seriously.

    In fact, the first few episodes do some interesting character stuff regarding the intensity of the workload of the people moving in this industry. Maxine Peake does a pretty nice job on Martha Costello, a tenacious defence lawyer of great principle. (I’m really not sure why this is so facetious. Not trying to be.) Her accent is absolutely outrageous as well, fuckin’ awesome Northern shit. Which is normally a pretty filthy accent, in all likelihood.

    Anyway, this is one of those shows that isn’t going to change your life, but it is going to do the business when you’re hungover on Saturday or Sunday or Tuesday and you need to load up like ten episodes of something and just starfish for a few hours. Notably, it’s a good thing to watch if you’re into periodicals: there’s a new case which is argued each week (Martha almost always wins. And even when she doesn’t, she gets the moral victory, you know?), and throughout the first and second season, there’s a bit of trouble brewing with a local gangster, trouble which eventually comes to a head.

    These aren’t spoilers, by the way. Don’t think the point of the show is for it to be mysterious and unpredictable. It’s familiar and cosy and there’s a quote about how language is the weapon of the arena of the courtroom which stuck in my mind.

    So if any of this sounds boring to you, then don’t watch it. The legal-drama bit is actually pretty good, I think. Doesn’t have the latent misogyny of Suits and Boston Legal and stuff, which, if that’s an issue for you, then this show might be okay. I haven’t rewatched it so it’s possible/very likely I missed some stuff. However, generally, I think Silk seems to deal with those ‘edgier’ subjects with nice sensitivity. There might be some trouble with race, actually…

    Anyway.

    Created by Peter Moffat. My research actually tells me this show has been described as a “disappointment”. Perhaps we should see about some more of that guy’s stuff. There’s some good attention to office politics and morality throughout the first season of this show, however, which regrettably does regress somewhat in the later seasons.

    And yeah, on that second-season curse. I’d say there’s this thing that happens with TV shows where they have a banger of a first season – heaps of time to conceptualise and write and develop and etc – and then second season comes along and there’s a lack of coherent content left, and the show just gets a little silly. Indeed, Suits did that. Which really might be why Boston Legal just started silly, because then you can continue with silliness, never worrying about second-season curse. Anti-silliness is tricky and seen by many as ultimately boring, and that’s why sometimes, TV producers should just cut drama shows off after a season.

    Or you have to really commit to the periodical and do Law and Order or CSI or something, with outlandishly good-looking police characters that an audience can really Come To Love. Realistically, the balance between authenticity and cash might be quite complicated. Cf the music industry… okay, enough of that.

    Probably not such an intelligent idea after all, actually.

    But to conclude: I’d say firstly, if you’ve made it this far through the review, then congratulations. Additionally, if you’re into episodic drama, then give this a shot and see how you go. There’s also heaps of workplace sex, which is something people seem to really get into. Cool beans.

    by

  • The Movie That Zach Built

    Zach Braff managed to raise $2.4 million for his latest film Wish I Was Here through crowdfunding in the space of 48 hours. The internet is up in arms. How dare the infamous and filthy-rich Scrubs actor ($US350,000-per-episode-for-nine-seasons filthy-rich, to be exact) request money from innocent fans for a film they desperately want to see. The opportunistic publicity stunt is just unbelievable. After having to talk about it about “400 times” already, the man himself is also a little infuriated (plus would probably like said critics to imagine themselves in his shoes and assess whether self-restraint with that kind of money is even possible). It’s gotten to the point where he’s telling interviewers to google other interviews.

    Googling ‘crowdfunding’ immerses you in an overwhelming number of ‘How to’ guides. Learn from the example of Minecraft: The Story of Mojang by 2 Player Productions, for example. With the help of 10,000 backers, the creative licence is unlimited. Through crowdfunding, Zach Braff claims to strive for maintaining control over the casting and final cuts for independent films in defiance of the profit-desperate ‘money-people’ who think sexy pool scenes are more popular than Comic-Con. He didn’t want to just make a sequel to Garden State or a rom com. Fair enough? Following the inspiring story of the crowdsourced Veronica Mars movie, Braff has spent over a decade trying to get the film to take full flight. It was through an enthusiastic engagement with his fans that the project, with a highly impressive soundtrack ft. The Shins, gained momentum. In return, Braff pledged to reward the dedicated fans, depending on the size of the donation. For $10, you could get a copy of the script, or for $10,000, the chance of sitting next to him at the premiere, possibly including his hand on your knee. It doesn’t seem like a filthy rich Hollywood star thieving money off poor innocent fans?

    A little less self-righteous cynicism could be healthy for everyone. So what if some hardcore Garden State enthusiasts put their own hard-earned money into a follow-up of one of their favourite films ever, by the star of their favourite-ever TV show? Maybe the fans who contributed a couple of dollars simply wanted to feel like they personally helped the creative process, fuelling their profound love for Zach and his comic genius. Just maybe, it is also an inspiration to other independent filmmakers in need of a kick-start. Or maybe that’s all just far too boringly idealistic.

    In other film news:

    A woman has married a cardboard cut-out of Robert Pattinson. The deep love she formed for the book character Edward Cullen in the Twilight novels was transposed onto the actor the moment she saw him embodied as the lusty “quiet and mysterious, superhuman and invincible” vampire. The lack of loving reciprocation simply forced said woman to think a little more creatively, getting married to a cut-out in Las Vegas. The honeymoon was in Los Angeles, which was apparently perfect apart from the fact that she had to carry him up to the Hollywood sign; but as she so poignantly muses, “everyone makes sacrifices for the man they love, right?” The obsession with Pattinson aside, I just want an answer to the question of how someone can legally marry a really thick piece of paper.

    Be warned: it has been confirmed there will in fact be a 23 Jump Street. Coming soon.

    by

  • Sleeping On Horseback [Review]

    I love it when a new poet publishes their first collection and it scatters itself all over the place. Some might say this is the mark of an immature poet, but I disagree.

    Frances Samuel is an adventurous poet. Almost all her poems exist in this weird and colourful in-between space between reality and unreality. ‘Routine Magic’, a title of one poem, is an apt way to put it.

    Some of the poems transport us to strange but slightly familiar places. Like recognisable dreamscapes. Some are exercises in time travel. And some poems prefer not to take us somewhere new, but stand perfectly still.

    The quotes at the back of the book characterise it as a book of journeys. This is only half the story, but it’s a good place to start. The first poem ‘Sleeping on Horseback’ blends mythology with the everyday. The narrator has the kind of voice that you remember and want to keep following: vulnerable but plucky, quiet but perceptive.

    The collection is divided into four sections, which helps you get your head around all the journeys being taken and all the objects being found along the way. In ‘City of Red’, we’re riding an elephant painted vermilion and blue. In ‘Vending machine’, a girl floats on a walnut boat down a riverbed of lights, plucking letters of the alphabet from the sky to make a starry haiku. In ‘The forest of things’, a bushfire burns through dangling objects left by people wanting to forget them. The writing is brightly lit and cinematic.

    But the poems that pack the most punch don’t start appearing until over halfway through. These are the ones that don’t try to negotiate wide-open spaces or fantasy worlds. They’re in the same book, but offer something completely different. ‘Anorexia’ is so good I had to instagram it. Just five words long:

    electric doors
    don’t sense her

    It hits you like a ton of bricks. Samuel can do so much with so little, just as she can write poems that sprawl. I wish this sheer force of language would come through more often. That said, there’s such variety that everyone will find a poem they like. Samuel has an uncanny grip of what scares us and what amazes us. Each step of the way, she collects up forgotten objects along the path and spins them into something slightly magical.

    Some of the poems don’t move with such sure footing. The collection could have been shorter and more punchy. But the ones that don’t fit anywhere are also my favourite. This debut collection is the beginning of something big, but doesn’t try to overstep itself. The last few lines of the poem ‘A memoir’ have a lovely new rhythm that isn’t found anywhere else. I wish this one were the very last poem, because it offers up a perfect ending for the whole book:

    I reached upwards and found myself
    elbow deep in flowers.
    Annabel, I said, Annabel
    but the windows became wind
    blew the petals away, stalks
    hanging from the ceiling.
    Five minutes have passed since then
    I have no idea about my next move.

    by

  • Please Handle this Poem with Care

    This year in Salient, I’ve forced a lot of poetry on you. I’m not ashamed. Poetry deserves to be read by more people. It longs to be read by young people just like us.

    And there’s so damn much of it being published in New Zealand right now. How amazing is that? We’re a little country whose Prime Minister puts himself on the cover of rugby magazines and tries to talk in rugby metaphors – and yet! We have independent publishers like Victoria Uni Press, Auckland Uni Press, Hue & Cry Press and Compound Press, who have been churning out luscious new poetry books all year. Not to mention all the literary journals and the tiny boutique publishers providing new platforms for new poets.

    If you’ve got an open mind, there’s a poem for you out there somewhere. But reading a poem is a complex, nuanced exercise, and they don’t come with instruction manuals. Feel free to use this guide below as you see fit.

    Before reading:

    • At first, approach a poem from behind with a fire extinguisher ready.
    • Do not read a poem in a boat on a lake during a thunderstorm.
    • Do not open a poem near an active volcano or live electrical wires.
    • Do not leave a poem untended at night on the full moon.

    After reading:

    • You may feel like there has just been an earthquake.
    • You may feel like you’ve just been jolted from a dream in which you were falling.
    • You may realise nothing in life is certain and we will all die one day.
    • You may sense a ghost in the room.

    Poetry is very much alive and kicking in New Zealand at the moment. Especially in Wellington, where it roams the streets at night terrorising bros walking home from town. If you’re kind-hearted and courageous (it senses fear), you can approach it. Just be wary of the fact that you will likely never be the same.

    by

  • Interview with Dylan Jones of The Upbeats

    How are you?

    Good! Good! A wee bit groggy after celebrating the EP release last night.

    What was working with Shapeshifter like? Have you done stuff with them before?

    We have kind of worked with them in the past, on their last album, Delta, we were kind of brought on as producers and engineers for that. It was back during those sessions that we came up with the idea that maybe we could do a 50/50 kind of Upbeats/Shapeshifter thing. So then a few months later we got in the studio and made it happen.

    So it is a hang around in the studio together thing? Not like a Postal Service sending tracks to each other dealie?

    Yeah, everyone just brought their ideas into the studio, then between us we went through things over a week and whittled them down, but yeah all in the studio.

    Right, because this release comes pretty soon after your Rituals EP, and that seemed to come pretty soon after your last album – are things just going very fast?

    Yeah it feels like there’s a lot on about, all just kind of flying through. It’s been hectic but awesome, you know its great to be busy.

    Y’all have been around forever, as have Shapeshifter – I guess it makes sense that you would work with the dinosaurs of NZ electronic mus-

    Dinosaurs? [Laughs]

    Giants, giants is the right word. But you guys are not exactly the same wheelhouse – was it weird working with a group that’s a bit more mellow.

    Yeah we’re definitely more on a more heavier dancefloor kind of thing, but we can get pretty mellow.

    How do you think Drum n Bass is doing? There was a time in high school where everyone I knew was either thrashing Pendulum or hating on Pendulum and thrashing Binge Drinka live at Dargaville –

    Wicked.

    – but then other aggressive electronic music kind of took over, and it seemed to fade from the public consciousness a bit.

    Yeah there was definitely that moment where things blew up a bit, and there was a lot of commercial crossover, then it died off a bit and things went underground again, but that’s kind of the ebb and flow, like it going down a bit produced a whole lot of interesting music produced a lot of interesting stuff and different flavours. Then lately I feel like it’s on the upswing again, you know guys like Rudimental and DJ Fresh pushing something that’s a bit more drum-and-bass-like, well pop. Then like worldwide for us touring Europe right now it seems so strong, it’s awesome, then the States it’s always been a bit of a struggle, no one quite understands it, but it’s picking up momentum, then in New Zealand it just never seems to die. It’s the cockroach of dance music, it just keeps going.

    Have you got a New Years tour planned?

    Yeah we’re doing Northern Bass and some other things I can’t remember right now.

    There’s a nice kind of summer circuit for NZ electronic acts.

    Oh yeah it’s warm, everyone’s stoked to be off, it’s a great time.

    So how did The Upbeats start?

    Right back in high school, me and Jeremy used to surf together, kind of buddied up doing that. He was really into his drum n bass, and was kind of pushing that onto me although I wasn’t really having a bar of it to start off with. Eventually I came round to it, we started writing tunes, sneaking into parties when the drinking age was still 21 or something like that.

    How has your songwriting process kind of changed since then?

    We still jam out and have fun in the studio. Nothing’s too serious. But of course we’ve stepped it up a little bit.

    On the drinking age – there’s this little debate in NZ right now that Blink’s book just spurned, about the paucity of underage venues in New Zealand. Do you guys find yourself playing to under-18 crowds very often?

    Unfortunately not. I mean it’s kind of hard with what we do, it’s not hard, but it’s really kind of tailored towards the late-night club scene. We’ve done a couple over the years but we’ve got so many younger fans that we don’t really cater to, yeah.

    Thanks so much for your time man!

    by

  • A VAGUE AWKWARDLY EXPRESSED HOSTILITY IS FUN FOR A BIT BUT THEN IT GETS OLD

    It is good and okay to be very sincere. In her essay on awkwardness, Elif Batuman charts the latter half of the 20th century as a collapse into irony; from capitalism as Christian morality in the ’50s, to countercultural resistance in the ’60s, moral bankruptcy in the ’70s, to capitalism as faith unto itself in the ’80s, to the vague disingenuousness of the ’90s. We are living now, according to Batuman, in irony’s wake. And it expresses itself ungracefully.

    There’s a perverse comfort in situating my own social ineptitude within a wider historical narrative. But this isn’t about me (he lied).

    The Peter McLeavey Gallery lacked nothing in sincerity. It lacked, rather, the self-confidence to commit to its own project. It so insistently advertised itself as belonging to somewhere else. The descriptor of “industrial, New York style” gallery felt a little embarrassing. As if everyone involved still considered themselves parochial in relation to the metropole. And we do, but that’s not the point. The point is that, to a degree, they were right. Spaces like that – high-ceilinged, wide, airy, concrete-floored spaces – don’t really exist in Wellington.

    Consider This an Offering takes place in such a space. The exhibition, which is being staged by four final-year Massey students, describes itself as a “playground for mindfulness” and features four installation works as well as a screening room displaying video work.

    At the opening, about three drinks in, I made a note on my phone which read, “David Koch’s sponsorship of the Met is not killing art. Pirate costumes, tie-dyed baggy pants, and animal pants ruin art.” Provided one enters the exhibition at the right time, one is first met with projectiles, bouncy balls, ricocheting off the ground, the walls, other bodies. For all its playful violence, Louise Rutledge’s piece operates most effectively as an interrogation of public space and its uses. The piece’s most interesting element is not its tactile nature, nor in the negation of the commodified art object in the presentation of something so easily dissolvable (and stealable, not that I did), but the ways in which interaction with the object, and the object’s relation to the space, is mediated by one’s comfort in the space. Hence the pirate-costume man, and the tie-dye-pant man, both of whom seemed so jubilous in their attacks by virtue, perhaps, of their existing eccentricity. Rutledge’s object does encourage the momentary dissolution of social order, yes, but it does so in a way that reveals the ways in which breakdown is mediated by gender, by costume, by an awareness of other bodies in a space, and by the lack of awareness of one’s own among others.

    Ruby Joy Eade’s billboards, as an anthropological exercise in scavenging disembodied text from break-up forums, can be hostile. There’s a risk that their presence in the gallery space is malicious, ironic, a snide laugh at an abstract other without the right of reply. I choose to believe, however, that there is nothing disingenuous about them. (Full disclosure: I may be biased; I’m friends with the artist’s friends. Ruby and I once yelled at each other at a party. I think about Adorno, or my iPhone. I can’t remember.) They position themselves closer to Miranda July, Jenny Holzer and Koki Tanaka’s unapologetic earnest faith in humanity. There’s something almost invasive in their banality. The profound sadness of decontextualised clichés – “take me back”, “i feel lost and confused”, “it’s tough seeing him so cold” – from a speaker both incorporeal and undeniably present. Eade has previously sewn phrases to garments in op-shop changing rooms, and erected billboards next to election campaigns. All contexts alarm, but in different ways. In a gallery, they offer a sense of the uncanny, born from the ambiguity of the text’s source; it’s unclear whether they act on the presumption of universality, or in the conquest of pathos towards an absent speaker.

    The other two works in the show operate both architecturally and ritually. On one side, Elisabeth Pointon’s piles of salt arranged in a circle (the remnants of a performance I missed); on the other, a large sandpit with a rake presented by Robbie Whyte. They’re quieter than the other works, allowing for meditation in the small rearrangements of existing objects. Accompanying the exhibition is a selection of books and zines from Art Print Space, relics of the artists’ research process. The exhibition, more than anything else, is generous, not just for its invitation to participate, but in the ways the works correspond with each other, and the ways in which the additional content provides many different points of entry simultaneously.

    PS I rearranged your books so that Alain de Botton was hidden from view. Love your work, sorry.

    Consider This an Offering is on display at 24 Marion St until 24 September.

    by

  • Silk

    This is another British show, aired by the BBC from 2011–2014. Which is three seasons, for those who aren’t arithmeticians. Don’t think it’s received any critical attention – probably because it’s not such a great show, all things considered. However, personally, I found the first season to be an absolute banger.

    Sadly, I also think the show succumbed to the second-season curse, which is another thesis/mockumentary I’ve been working on in my brain for a while now.

    It’d probably be helpful if we discussed what the thing’s actually about. There’s a reason I said some things before saying what it is…

    It’s a legal drama, guys. Concerning the day-to-day hustle and bustle of Shoe Lane where barristers abound, clerks dive and dodge, and judges run amok. I’m not exactly, precisely sure, but it seems like writing this in the uni library instead of in the safety of my own home is making things a bit weird with the prose in here. The judges don’t run amok. If anything, the show starts off reasonably seriously.

    In fact, the first few episodes do some interesting character stuff regarding the intensity of the workload of the people moving in this industry. Maxine Peake does a pretty nice job on Martha Costello, a tenacious defence lawyer of great principle. (I’m really not sure why this is so facetious. Not trying to be.) Her accent is absolutely outrageous as well, fuckin’ awesome Northern shit. Which is normally a pretty filthy accent, in all likelihood.

    Anyway, this is one of those shows that isn’t going to change your life, but it is going to do the business when you’re hungover on Saturday or Sunday or Tuesday and you need to load up like ten episodes of something and just starfish for a few hours. Notably, it’s a good thing to watch if you’re into periodicals: there’s a new case which is argued each week (Martha almost always wins. And even when she doesn’t, she gets the moral victory, you know?), and throughout the first and second season, there’s a bit of trouble brewing with a local gangster, trouble which eventually comes to a head.

    These aren’t spoilers, by the way. Don’t think the point of the show is for it to be mysterious and unpredictable. It’s familiar and cosy and there’s a quote about how language is the weapon of the arena of the courtroom which stuck in my mind.

    So if any of this sounds boring to you, then don’t watch it. The legal-drama bit is actually pretty good, I think. Doesn’t have the latent misogyny of Suits and Boston Legal and stuff, which, if that’s an issue for you, then this show might be okay. I haven’t rewatched it so it’s possible/very likely I missed some stuff. However, generally, I think Silk seems to deal with those ‘edgier’ subjects with nice sensitivity. There might be some trouble with race, actually…

    Anyway.

    Created by Peter Moffat. My research actually tells me this show has been described as a “disappointment”. Perhaps we should see about some more of that guy’s stuff. There’s some good attention to office politics and morality throughout the first season of this show, however, which regrettably does regress somewhat in the later seasons.

    And yeah, on that second-season curse. I’d say there’s this thing that happens with TV shows where they have a banger of a first season – heaps of time to conceptualise and write and develop and etc – and then second season comes along and there’s a lack of coherent content left, and the show just gets a little silly. Indeed, Suits did that. Which really might be why Boston Legal just started silly, because then you can continue with silliness, never worrying about second-season curse. Anti-silliness is tricky and seen by many as ultimately boring, and that’s why sometimes, TV producers should just cut drama shows off after a season.

    Or you have to really commit to the periodical and do Law and Order or CSI or something, with outlandishly good-looking police characters that an audience can really Come To Love. Realistically, the balance between authenticity and cash might be quite complicated. Cf the music industry… okay, enough of that.

    Probably not such an intelligent idea after all, actually.

    But to conclude: I’d say firstly, if you’ve made it this far through the review, then congratulations. Additionally, if you’re into episodic drama, then give this a shot and see how you go. There’s also heaps of workplace sex, which is something people seem to really get into. Cool beans.

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  • The Movie That Zach Built

    Zach Braff managed to raise $2.4 million for his latest film Wish I Was Here through crowdfunding in the space of 48 hours. The internet is up in arms. How dare the infamous and filthy-rich Scrubs actor ($US350,000-per-episode-for-nine-seasons filthy-rich, to be exact) request money from innocent fans for a film they desperately want to see. The opportunistic publicity stunt is just unbelievable. After having to talk about it about “400 times” already, the man himself is also a little infuriated (plus would probably like said critics to imagine themselves in his shoes and assess whether self-restraint with that kind of money is even possible). It’s gotten to the point where he’s telling interviewers to google other interviews.

    Googling ‘crowdfunding’ immerses you in an overwhelming number of ‘How to’ guides. Learn from the example of Minecraft: The Story of Mojang by 2 Player Productions, for example. With the help of 10,000 backers, the creative licence is unlimited. Through crowdfunding, Zach Braff claims to strive for maintaining control over the casting and final cuts for independent films in defiance of the profit-desperate ‘money-people’ who think sexy pool scenes are more popular than Comic-Con. He didn’t want to just make a sequel to Garden State or a rom com. Fair enough? Following the inspiring story of the crowdsourced Veronica Mars movie, Braff has spent over a decade trying to get the film to take full flight. It was through an enthusiastic engagement with his fans that the project, with a highly impressive soundtrack ft. The Shins, gained momentum. In return, Braff pledged to reward the dedicated fans, depending on the size of the donation. For $10, you could get a copy of the script, or for $10,000, the chance of sitting next to him at the premiere, possibly including his hand on your knee. It doesn’t seem like a filthy rich Hollywood star thieving money off poor innocent fans?

    A little less self-righteous cynicism could be healthy for everyone. So what if some hardcore Garden State enthusiasts put their own hard-earned money into a follow-up of one of their favourite films ever, by the star of their favourite-ever TV show? Maybe the fans who contributed a couple of dollars simply wanted to feel like they personally helped the creative process, fuelling their profound love for Zach and his comic genius. Just maybe, it is also an inspiration to other independent filmmakers in need of a kick-start. Or maybe that’s all just far too boringly idealistic.

    In other film news:

    A woman has married a cardboard cut-out of Robert Pattinson. The deep love she formed for the book character Edward Cullen in the Twilight novels was transposed onto the actor the moment she saw him embodied as the lusty “quiet and mysterious, superhuman and invincible” vampire. The lack of loving reciprocation simply forced said woman to think a little more creatively, getting married to a cut-out in Las Vegas. The honeymoon was in Los Angeles, which was apparently perfect apart from the fact that she had to carry him up to the Hollywood sign; but as she so poignantly muses, “everyone makes sacrifices for the man they love, right?” The obsession with Pattinson aside, I just want an answer to the question of how someone can legally marry a really thick piece of paper.

    Be warned: it has been confirmed there will in fact be a 23 Jump Street. Coming soon.

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  • Sleeping On Horseback [Review]

    I love it when a new poet publishes their first collection and it scatters itself all over the place. Some might say this is the mark of an immature poet, but I disagree.

    Frances Samuel is an adventurous poet. Almost all her poems exist in this weird and colourful in-between space between reality and unreality. ‘Routine Magic’, a title of one poem, is an apt way to put it.

    Some of the poems transport us to strange but slightly familiar places. Like recognisable dreamscapes. Some are exercises in time travel. And some poems prefer not to take us somewhere new, but stand perfectly still.

    The quotes at the back of the book characterise it as a book of journeys. This is only half the story, but it’s a good place to start. The first poem ‘Sleeping on Horseback’ blends mythology with the everyday. The narrator has the kind of voice that you remember and want to keep following: vulnerable but plucky, quiet but perceptive.

    The collection is divided into four sections, which helps you get your head around all the journeys being taken and all the objects being found along the way. In ‘City of Red’, we’re riding an elephant painted vermilion and blue. In ‘Vending machine’, a girl floats on a walnut boat down a riverbed of lights, plucking letters of the alphabet from the sky to make a starry haiku. In ‘The forest of things’, a bushfire burns through dangling objects left by people wanting to forget them. The writing is brightly lit and cinematic.

    But the poems that pack the most punch don’t start appearing until over halfway through. These are the ones that don’t try to negotiate wide-open spaces or fantasy worlds. They’re in the same book, but offer something completely different. ‘Anorexia’ is so good I had to instagram it. Just five words long:

    electric doors
    don’t sense her

    It hits you like a ton of bricks. Samuel can do so much with so little, just as she can write poems that sprawl. I wish this sheer force of language would come through more often. That said, there’s such variety that everyone will find a poem they like. Samuel has an uncanny grip of what scares us and what amazes us. Each step of the way, she collects up forgotten objects along the path and spins them into something slightly magical.

    Some of the poems don’t move with such sure footing. The collection could have been shorter and more punchy. But the ones that don’t fit anywhere are also my favourite. This debut collection is the beginning of something big, but doesn’t try to overstep itself. The last few lines of the poem ‘A memoir’ have a lovely new rhythm that isn’t found anywhere else. I wish this one were the very last poem, because it offers up a perfect ending for the whole book:

    I reached upwards and found myself
    elbow deep in flowers.
    Annabel, I said, Annabel
    but the windows became wind
    blew the petals away, stalks
    hanging from the ceiling.
    Five minutes have passed since then
    I have no idea about my next move.

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  • Please Handle this Poem with Care

    This year in Salient, I’ve forced a lot of poetry on you. I’m not ashamed. Poetry deserves to be read by more people. It longs to be read by young people just like us.

    And there’s so damn much of it being published in New Zealand right now. How amazing is that? We’re a little country whose Prime Minister puts himself on the cover of rugby magazines and tries to talk in rugby metaphors – and yet! We have independent publishers like Victoria Uni Press, Auckland Uni Press, Hue & Cry Press and Compound Press, who have been churning out luscious new poetry books all year. Not to mention all the literary journals and the tiny boutique publishers providing new platforms for new poets.

    If you’ve got an open mind, there’s a poem for you out there somewhere. But reading a poem is a complex, nuanced exercise, and they don’t come with instruction manuals. Feel free to use this guide below as you see fit.

    Before reading:

    • At first, approach a poem from behind with a fire extinguisher ready.
    • Do not read a poem in a boat on a lake during a thunderstorm.
    • Do not open a poem near an active volcano or live electrical wires.
    • Do not leave a poem untended at night on the full moon.

    After reading:

    • You may feel like there has just been an earthquake.
    • You may feel like you’ve just been jolted from a dream in which you were falling.
    • You may realise nothing in life is certain and we will all die one day.
    • You may sense a ghost in the room.

    Poetry is very much alive and kicking in New Zealand at the moment. Especially in Wellington, where it roams the streets at night terrorising bros walking home from town. If you’re kind-hearted and courageous (it senses fear), you can approach it. Just be wary of the fact that you will likely never be the same.

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  • Interview with Dylan Jones of The Upbeats

    How are you?

    Good! Good! A wee bit groggy after celebrating the EP release last night.

    What was working with Shapeshifter like? Have you done stuff with them before?

    We have kind of worked with them in the past, on their last album, Delta, we were kind of brought on as producers and engineers for that. It was back during those sessions that we came up with the idea that maybe we could do a 50/50 kind of Upbeats/Shapeshifter thing. So then a few months later we got in the studio and made it happen.

    So it is a hang around in the studio together thing? Not like a Postal Service sending tracks to each other dealie?

    Yeah, everyone just brought their ideas into the studio, then between us we went through things over a week and whittled them down, but yeah all in the studio.

    Right, because this release comes pretty soon after your Rituals EP, and that seemed to come pretty soon after your last album – are things just going very fast?

    Yeah it feels like there’s a lot on about, all just kind of flying through. It’s been hectic but awesome, you know its great to be busy.

    Y’all have been around forever, as have Shapeshifter – I guess it makes sense that you would work with the dinosaurs of NZ electronic mus-

    Dinosaurs? [Laughs]

    Giants, giants is the right word. But you guys are not exactly the same wheelhouse – was it weird working with a group that’s a bit more mellow.

    Yeah we’re definitely more on a more heavier dancefloor kind of thing, but we can get pretty mellow.

    How do you think Drum n Bass is doing? There was a time in high school where everyone I knew was either thrashing Pendulum or hating on Pendulum and thrashing Binge Drinka live at Dargaville –

    Wicked.

    – but then other aggressive electronic music kind of took over, and it seemed to fade from the public consciousness a bit.

    Yeah there was definitely that moment where things blew up a bit, and there was a lot of commercial crossover, then it died off a bit and things went underground again, but that’s kind of the ebb and flow, like it going down a bit produced a whole lot of interesting music produced a lot of interesting stuff and different flavours. Then lately I feel like it’s on the upswing again, you know guys like Rudimental and DJ Fresh pushing something that’s a bit more drum-and-bass-like, well pop. Then like worldwide for us touring Europe right now it seems so strong, it’s awesome, then the States it’s always been a bit of a struggle, no one quite understands it, but it’s picking up momentum, then in New Zealand it just never seems to die. It’s the cockroach of dance music, it just keeps going.

    Have you got a New Years tour planned?

    Yeah we’re doing Northern Bass and some other things I can’t remember right now.

    There’s a nice kind of summer circuit for NZ electronic acts.

    Oh yeah it’s warm, everyone’s stoked to be off, it’s a great time.

    So how did The Upbeats start?

    Right back in high school, me and Jeremy used to surf together, kind of buddied up doing that. He was really into his drum n bass, and was kind of pushing that onto me although I wasn’t really having a bar of it to start off with. Eventually I came round to it, we started writing tunes, sneaking into parties when the drinking age was still 21 or something like that.

    How has your songwriting process kind of changed since then?

    We still jam out and have fun in the studio. Nothing’s too serious. But of course we’ve stepped it up a little bit.

    On the drinking age – there’s this little debate in NZ right now that Blink’s book just spurned, about the paucity of underage venues in New Zealand. Do you guys find yourself playing to under-18 crowds very often?

    Unfortunately not. I mean it’s kind of hard with what we do, it’s not hard, but it’s really kind of tailored towards the late-night club scene. We’ve done a couple over the years but we’ve got so many younger fans that we don’t really cater to, yeah.

    Thanks so much for your time man!

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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