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Issue 14, 2015

Body

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News

  • Can’t access counselling? Try origami!

  • Insulation is coming

  • Give Me a Break

  • Vic ignores counsel on Council, shits on democracy

  • Karori, we’ll finally be together

  • Government help out the mamas and the papas

  • Features

  • bodies

    Beautiful Bodies

    – SPONSORED – This feature, you will notice, deviates from the other articles in this issue and of Salient’s oeuvre—it is a photo-essay, of a sort, and should be interpreted as such first and foremost. However, the terrain of bodies, and especially the way they intersect with issues of sexualisation, commodification, shame, self-doubt, make them […]

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  • football

    Bend It Like Miyama

    – SPONSORED – The New Zealand football team is ranked seventeenth in the world and will be competing for major trophies by the end of the decade. It’s a young side known for its good technique, and recently beat Brazil. If this sounds unfamiliar, I should clarify that I’m talking about the women’s team. The […]

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  • restorative

    “Good Luck”: My Experience With Restorative Justice

    – SPONSORED – Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people. Restorative justice has cropped up more in the news over the past few years. However, the process involved generally follows the same model: “Family holds restorative justice meeting with [murderer/attacker] of [family member].” When I wanted […]

    by

  • disabilities

    Reclaiming Disability

    – SPONSORED – Society is beginning to see that there is not one way to have a body. Diverse bodies are coming more and more to society’s attention. Transgender rights, fat acceptance groups, and disability awareness are all gaining traction. But what is it like to have a body that is perceived by society to […]

    by

  • orthorexia

    The Problem With #healthspo

    – SPONSORED – If Instagram were your only source of information about society today, you would see a healthy lifestyle as a combination of chia seeds, yoga, kale, and the oversaturated photo documentation of all three. An Instagram search of #healthychoices brings up over seven million posts of girls in sports bras and plates of […]

    by

  • bodies

    Beautiful Bodies

    – SPONSORED – This feature, you will notice, deviates from the other articles in this issue and of Salient’s oeuvre—it is a photo-essay, of a sort, and should be interpreted as such first and foremost. However, the terrain of bodies, and especially the way they intersect with issues of sexualisation, commodification, shame, self-doubt, make them […]

    by

  • football

    Bend It Like Miyama

    – SPONSORED – The New Zealand football team is ranked seventeenth in the world and will be competing for major trophies by the end of the decade. It’s a young side known for its good technique, and recently beat Brazil. If this sounds unfamiliar, I should clarify that I’m talking about the women’s team. The […]

    by

  • restorative

    “Good Luck”: My Experience With Restorative Justice

    – SPONSORED – Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people. Restorative justice has cropped up more in the news over the past few years. However, the process involved generally follows the same model: “Family holds restorative justice meeting with [murderer/attacker] of [family member].” When I wanted […]

    by

  • disabilities

    Reclaiming Disability

    – SPONSORED – Society is beginning to see that there is not one way to have a body. Diverse bodies are coming more and more to society’s attention. Transgender rights, fat acceptance groups, and disability awareness are all gaining traction. But what is it like to have a body that is perceived by society to […]

    by

  • orthorexia

    The Problem With #healthspo

    – SPONSORED – If Instagram were your only source of information about society today, you would see a healthy lifestyle as a combination of chia seeds, yoga, kale, and the oversaturated photo documentation of all three. An Instagram search of #healthychoices brings up over seven million posts of girls in sports bras and plates of […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • Gemma Bovery

    ½ (have half a star for trying, Fontaine)

    During this film, baker and all-round creepy guy Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) classes Gustave Flaubert’s original novel, Madame Bovary, as “a mundane story told by a genius”. I’m not sure, then, what the rationale behind director Anne Fontaine trying to retell the same story with a contemporary filmic twist is, unless she counts herself a genius—a notion which this humble reviewer would certainly contest. Fontaine notes in an interview that the French word bovarysme refers to never being satisfied, hoping for something that never arrives. I don’t think she meant it in a self-referential way, but bovarysme is clearly and unfortunately the perfect term to describe her film.

    In 1999, there were apparently things going on aside from the girls trying to pull off Christmas in SpiceWorld without Geri. Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, Gemma Bovery, had been published in serial form in The Guardian, and was released in full in book form. By all accounts, it’s meant to be pretty neat: neither just a contemporary adaptation nor a satire, but a semi-independent stab at bringing Flaubert’s tale to the masses.

    Fastforward to 2014, and director Anne Fontaine attempts to bring the graphic novel to the big screen. There’s an issue, right away. It seems to me that if you’re going to adapt a graphic novel into film format there should be a particular rationale for doing so—something that the moving image can bring to the story. Take Sin City or Persepolis, both of which embrace their graphic novel roots to bring a unique style and substance to the big screen. Gemma Bovery, though, doesn’t make the grade on either count.

    Let’s take style, to start with. It’s pretty enough. The kind of French country cottages that are every over-50 expat Kiwi’s wet dream. Um… the costumes are nice? Grasping at straws here. Although there are some playful elements in the script (including a weird Call of Duty reference), the film’s structure lends itself to lazy voice-over storytelling. The actors are doing about as well as they can when reduced to these kinds of archetypes. The soundtrack is twee. The cinematography is nothing to write home about. Dear Anne Fontaine: Jean Renoir tried to make a Madame Bovary film in the 1930s, and if he couldn’t nail it, you should have left it well alone.

    The content of the film seems, again, like a fairly thoughtless process. Given Fontaine’s track record, it seems she’s into making films about the sex, hence Bovery’s appeal. But she hasn’t considered the ins and outs of adaptation. Flaubert’s Bovary was trapped in her marriage, but why doesn’t Gemma just leave? It’s 2014. This is not the way this story needs to be told. The whole premise here is that Gemma moves to the French countryside with her husband and has a bunch of affairs—not exactly difficult to make progressive.

    Perhaps this was, though, my mistake—the rookie error of presuming a film by a female director will be a feminist text. Gemma Bovery does this weird thing where Bovery’s creepy neighbour (Luchini) gets off on watching her every move and trying to stop her having affairs with other men: ergo, giving the man the storytelling role and all the agency. In case I’m not being clear enough, this film is like being shoved face first into a male-gaze vacuum. There’s a bonus bit of body shaming, a steamy kitchen scene (think a creepy-as-fuck, not Nigella, kind of way), and a character whose entire purpose is to pressure Gemma into an affair.

    Here’s the thing: it could have worked, with the satirical twist of the graphic novel, or by giving the protagonist some power over her sexuality, or even just as another a glossy rom-com, but the film is so damn frothy it’s just bizarre. It might work for some bored housewife demographic (the ones who weren’t brave enough to go see Fifty Shades and be done with it), but I’m certain that if Gemma Bovery had had to watch this film, she would have stabbed herself with a blunt knife instead of choking on a piece of bread.

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  • Sport 43

    Conceived during a drive home after a night out, Fergus Barrowman announced to his audience of Elizabeth Knox and Damien Wilkins (his then sober driver) as they rounded the Basin Reserve, that he wanted to do a literary magazine—and the name would be Sport.

    1988 seemed to be the right time—the literary scene was slowing down, Landfall was in a slump, other literary journals had a lifespan of four or five issues, and in Barrowman’s fourth year at Victoria University Press a change was in the air for the literary scene. The sole aim was to provide writers, in particular emergent ones, with a platform. Barrowman recalls the first issue featured “Barbara Anderson, Jenny Bornholdt, Anne Kennedy, Elizabeth Knox and Damien Wilkins [who] were all just before or after their first books; they look like the establishment now”. Their categories have expanded—they once eschewed poetry, seeking a more serious or pure publication, Wilkins referring to Granta as their initial model. They have since seen a light of sorts, and allowed poets back in the game.

    Currently in its 43rd edition, it has moved from twice-yearly to annual publications. While publications have slowed as life interfered, the collection has never strayed from their ethos of good new writing, each issue a mutually enjoyable phenomenon for writers and readers alike. For Barrowman this issue particularly lends itself to poetry; “the poetry is fantastic, and very diverse. I kind of wish now I’d put all the poetry together so that was even clearer. And I like the way the essays often feel like fiction, and vice versa. Story-telling and hard thinking are alive in both genres.”

    In the introduction to Sporting Moments, Wilkins reflects on his own reading approach to Sport—that which focused only on what appealed to his current engagement—a condition, he says, of reading as a writer. Sport lends itself to this approach, as it moves between authors and modes in no distinct method or, I suppose, a method not obvious to the reader. I found a similar approach emerged as I peeled through the pages—stopping over names I felt I might have heard, or liked the cadence of; finding words that grabbed me, and ideas that enticed me.

    Kirsten McDougall’s non-fiction piece, as Barrowman identifies, feels very much like fiction. Her prowess as a poet lends itself to alleviating non-fiction of the weight of true-to-life. McDougall remembers a fling from a Wanaka winter when she was 21. Nino was a European traveller, who was very much unlike anyone she had met before, and she never saw again. Thanks to the internet, McDougall’s story finds a place of nostalgia, and nestled closely is an insistent sense of regret; her story reminds the reader of the profound depth youth can reach.

    Ashleigh Young’s short story takes a domestic nuance, and draws out infectious dramatic tension. It is particularly pertinent for those who share their lives, both with a person, and also creation. Young’s control over the words conjures a hand that breaks from the page, grabs you by the scruff, and pulls you, willingly, into the story. She balances her gears perfectly, as though waiting for a hill start; a melancholic need to be alone, to create, is found in the same stroke as the delight of being in love.

    Faith Wilson’s poems show the diverse range of her pen; from a deeply sensual and emotive poem of love and youth, you see her words evoke an ocean of emotion. Her words are vulnerable and learning; the scenes and emotions are utterly familiar. In her other poems a voice of our generation, of her heritage, of this place, and of strength, emerges as her language stops you in her tracks. Her brother, a barista at Vic Books, in a puerile comment, told me she writes about sleeping with a guy in their parents’ bed.

    And Maria McMillan, in another stroke of strength, writes a listicle essay charting the currents of females in New Zealand Literature, and their subjugation. In an interesting format, which lets analysis take on a more creative mode, she aptly draws out the complexities of female, and is simultaneously daunted by the complexities, and repulsed by simplifications. Her response to Yvonne Todd’s exhibition Creamy Psychology particularly stands out, as it turns the exhibition into a cautionary tale of the standards of female beauty.

    Sarah Jane Barnett’s long form poetry takes on a fresh and important new voice—an Ethiopian migrant settling in New Zealand. Through research and interviews, Barnett is able to offer insight to a community of New Zealand whose voice is negotiating its footing. Her masterful ability to tell a story through poetry is exercised here once again.

    The collection also features work from recently published authors such as Chris Tse, Morgan Bach, James Brown, Tim Upperton, David Coventry, a very well considered and important essay by Giovanni Tiso—and the list simply continues, in a wonderful display of our creative capital.

    The collection is named Sport, Barrowman tells me, as a joke—a direct reference to the cultural divide that severs our country. It is with completely appropriate irony that I write this while I pretend to watch the Hurricanes be destroyed by the Highlanders. “See? You just can’t help getting swept up into it all… SPORT!” my flatmate proclaims, misreading my polite feigned interest as genuine. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, we’re all in this together, and we really gave it our all.

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  • Miguel—Wildheart (Deluxe Version)

    ★★★★

    After a three-year hiatus, Miguel is back and ready to reshape how we understand 21st-century R&B.

    Wildheart is a truly beautiful album. The track list is diverse, and contains everything from songs of seduction right through to intensely romantic numbers, as well as songs that relate to almost unexpected elements of the human experience (something that is especially commendable coming from a still emerging artist). Crushed dreams, loneliness, heartbreak—you name it, he’s probably written about it. This diversity means that Wildheart is not full of hit songs that everyone will love, but you get the sense that this won’t worry Miguel at all. As he sings in “a beautiful exit”, “Don’t ever sell yourself short, sell your sad things, accept the new, don’t mingle on the past, believe in yourself, trust your intuition, you are here for a reason.”

    It’s a refreshing listen, and is mastered to engage well through headphones. If you have listened to Miguel before, you will know that his music doesn’t fit into a typical genre, but Wildheart combines soulful R&B with alternative elements, and a funky electronic influence that carries throughout. It really is a game-changer for R&B—a genre that has been struggling to move past its dated heroes of the early 2000s.

    “Coffee” is a great track that you should listen to right now if you haven’t already. It is somehow unique and distinctive, with juddered vocals and building and crashing tempos, but still remains classically soulful. “face the sun” with Lenny Kravitz is such a good love song, with beautiful lyrics and vocals that pull on your heartstrings and keep you engaged. In terms of songs about pretty intense love, “damned”, “…goingtohell” and “waves” are all great and all relatively different. “what’s normal anyway” is a moving song about identifying yourself and being yourself. With Miguel’s refined vocal, great lyrics, and a restrained track, the song is able to speak for itself. “Hollywood Dreams” and “destinado a morir” are similar in this way and great as a result.

    Before listening to this album, I was expecting something pretty honest after watching a few interviews with Miguel. But what I wasn’t expecting was something so vulnerable, diverse, and completely unique. If I haven’t convinced you, I would definitely recommend finding Miguel’s Spotify sessions—it gives both great music and a little insight into the workings of Miguel.

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  • In Case You Missed It: The Mid-Year Break Edition

    If you were lucky enough to head back to your sleepy hometown over the break—where Mum still uses a fax machine and Dad is totally not down to binge on Orange Is the New Black with you—then chances are you would’ve missed a few of these absolute gems in the time since we last met. You can thank me later for bringing you back to 2015.

    Seven Music Moments

    1. Foals released “What Went Down”, the title track of their forthcoming album of the same name. It’s the kind of rock song that will revolutionise and epitomises everything that rock music is heading towards. If you haven’t treated your ears to it yet, stop everything and YouTube this shit ASAP. It will debilitate you in the best way possible.
    2. Rihanna created what might just be the world’s most terrifying music video for her already twisted AF song “Bitch Better Have My Money”. With an excessive amount of violence, nudity and blood, it was always going to be a success, but never did people expect so much bang for their buck. Coming in at just over seven minutes, it might seem like a bit of a commitment, but the time will fly by and leave you wondering what on exactly you just watched. A work of art or bad taste? The jury’s definitely still out on this one.
    3. Beck treated the world to a new tune titled “Dreams”. Where his last album Morning Phase was a perfect storm of laidback folkie tunes, this new one looks set to see the cute-as-a-button bohemian exploring the thus far unexplored realm of soulful, groovy dance-rock. No further info on the album has been released.
    4. Red-hot electronica duo ODESZA announced their first ever Wellington show. They’ll be playing at San Fran on 24 September and you should definitely be there. With that being said, tickets are $60 so you should probably start saving now.
    5. Glastonbury happened, with Florence and The Machine and Jamie xx being the clear standouts. If you’re at a loss for how to spend your first week of uni before the assignments kick in, an entire day can easily be lost burying yourself in the festival’s highlights reel.
    6. The Libertines announced their first album in over a decade! Like OMG WTH this is too much. Thus far all we know is that the album will be titled Anthems For Doomed Youth, that it is a “her”, and that she will be released on 4 September. If the title track “Gunga Din” is anything to base predictions on then this record is set to be an absolute banger.
    7. Finally, Apple Music launched, and despite a number of flaws that will undoubtedly be ironed out in the coming months, it’s pretty fucking brilliant. Kiwi ex-pat Zane Lowe fronts their flagship station Beats1, and if you’re not out of bed to listen to him live, he posts his daily playlist for you to revisit whenever you fancy. Deny it all you want, but you only have to look around a packed out lecture in KK303 to see that we’re all a bunch of Apple sluts at heart. So uninstall that peasant Spotify app and jump on the Apple Music bandwagon, because God forbid any of us let someone from a less sophisticated urban centre beat us to the “next big thing”.

    Five Albums

    1. Leftfield—Alternative Light Source
    2. Sharon Van Etten—I Don’t Want To Let You Down Tonight
    3. SOAK—Before We Forgot How To Dream
    4. Jamie xx—In Colour
    5. Wolf Alice—My Love Is Cool

    Three Songs

    1. Jamie xx—“Gosh”
    2. Chet Faker—“Bend”
    3. Leon Bridges—“Coming Home”

    One Kanye-ism

    Kanye declared himself the “greatest living rock star on the planet” in front of a Glastonbury crowd that didn’t even want him there, and just one night before some of Britain’s most cherished rock heroes, The Who, were to headline the exact same stage. Stay humble Kanye, stay humble.

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  • David Bowie Is

    ★½

    David Bowie Is follows the David Bowie exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert museum, which claims to be an institution centred around creativity, art and performance, “intended to inspire others”. Having been to the V&A, I find this attempt to be relevant somewhat absurd—while the museum has a lot of wonderful works, it is very traditional to the point of being stuffy. Perhaps I should consider their attempts to include a greater variety of exhibitions on contemporary artists as laudable, but I can’t help feeling it just doesn’t quite feel authentic.

    This impression is, I think, substantiated by the fact that all the good things I have to say about this movie are about David Bowie—not about David Bowie Is. Transforming an exhibition into a movie is a tricky concept at best, and wasn’t aided by the fact that I was sitting in the front row—poncy British people yelling at me about culture isn’t exactly my cup of tea. The film’s manner of panning through the exhibition was also really disruptive—the panoramas looked fake, and the frozen bodies of the exhibition viewers felt unnecessary and stilted. The cuts throughout the film to various people praising Bowie in front of an audience whilst standing on a large model of a stack of books also contributed little. It was all just a bit too self-congratulatory.

    To be fair, the film did remind me why I love Bowie, and to some extent enlightened me as to what else there is to discover about him. For example, I now want to learn more about his Diamond Dogs and Berlin phases, as well as see The Man Who Fell To Earth (or any one of the other 19 films he’s starred in). David Bowie is an icon—a mercurial, androgynous, born performer who constantly sourced from the past, present and future. His adoption of multiple personas including Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke and Halloween Jack reflect a truly post-modern understanding of identity as multifaceted and most importantly, constructed. Similarly, it was interesting to see into his creative process—at one point he uses a computer program to randomly mix collections of words together into new sentences, a process of automatic writing associated with Dada and Surrealism. This speaks to the nature of words and the human capacity to find meaning in even the most nonsensical of couplings. Bowie uses the example of “the top is dead”—which makes him think of a 1930s-era industrialist boss committing suicide. The exhibition also includes various sketches made by Bowie since he was a teenager, planning out costumes (which were an integral part of his work) and even set designs. Similarly, his first major single “Space Oddity” was written in response to the first picture of the Earth taken from outer space, and it was great to see the original music video for this, as well as footage of his other performances and some of his most iconic photographs.

    But that’s not really the point. David Bowie is amazing—we all know that. However, it felt like the film was attempting to reflect some of his starlight, rather than being of quality in its own right. This may have something to do with its attempt to transform an exhibition into the film medium. An exhibition in itself is one remove from the immediacy of Bowie and his art in a museum has an archiving, somewhat deadening effect on the objects it exhibits. And the film itself felt like one remove from the exhibition—a remove on top of a remove. Similarly, the film’s manner of situating Bowie within his times (e.g. the developments of New Britain, or the psychedelic 60s) did not feel coherent as a narrative and the film’s motif of using the phrase “David Bowie Is” followed by various descriptors ultimately felt pretty lame. In this way there was a lot of praise of Bowie and his work—but not that much actual insight into his music, style or performances. Finally, the ending was really weird: David Bowie playing “Heroes” at a benefit concert for 9/11—such a random way to bring this film to a close.

    David Bowie Is is worth seeing in as much as you do get a sense of Bowie’s oeuvre, and get to see a few amazing images and videos. But this is truly a weird mix of mediums—don’t bother seeing it at the cinema.

    by

  • White Sandal Girl

    After a fairly unsuccessful semester studying fashion design at Massey—involving a surprising amount of sewing plastic, cotton wool and papier mâché together—I have now returned to Vic.

    Having experienced the wildly disparate student populations of the two universities, I now regard myself as quite the seasoned cultural anthropologist. Despite glaring differences (no one at Massey would be seen dead in the leggings + hoodie combination so regularly observed shuffling through the Hub, or the baffling puffer jacket + jandal ensemble), I found the common denominator to be the ubiquitous White Sandal Girl.

    I have conducted close observation of this subculture in its varying natural habitats (instead of a TV, my flat has a window looking directly into The Cube. I wish I was joking) to the extent of actual immersion (I spent my first year leading a rather displaced existence at Te Puni*).

    Despite never having previously encountered the term, everyone I mention it to is immediately able to identify *those* girls. However, for the less enlightened amongst us, the White Sandal Girl is characterised by her uniform striped shirt, abundance of casual sportswear, excessive incorporation of the KW Runaway Girl logo, and of course, the definitive White Sandals.

    Typical behavioural traits of the White Sandal Girl include instagramming Wednesday night two-for-one cocktails at Library and snapping #fitspo selfies at the top of Mount Vic, complete with enough brand placement for a Nike commercial. They tend to travel in packs, dressed with such uncanny similarity one is led to question whether they actually pre-organise a group ensemble before leaving the house.

    From my extensive field research, I am able to conclude that White Sandal Girls of the design school persuasion do not fundamentally differ from BCom White Sandal Girls, aside from lacking a Vic Books takeaway coffee cup in hand.

    *Disclaimer: resulting from this mass exposure, I have been so deeply affected by the White Sandal phenomenon that I now exclusively wear Black Platforms.

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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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