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Issue 18, 2016

Art

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News

  • Women get physical at UC from 1-3pm

  • More teachers for already competitive industry

  • White privilege news 101

  • Lincoln Uni is Falling Apart

  • Collective bargaining reaches a deadlock

  • Fun News

  • Idea of consent still not getting through

  • Little thirsty for the student vote

  • VUWSA AGM

  • Features

  • Izzy web

    Izzy Carson

    This is my apartment for another nineteen days it’s too hot to sleep in this small room – SPONSORED – people tell me the temperature in fahrenheit and I convert it to celsius on my phone I leave my bedroom door open and turn on the fan at night . I think it’s important to […]

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  • cheeseburgertower

    Page Works

    This issue we asked seven young Wellington-based artists and recent Fine Arts graduates to create an original ‘page work’ for Salient. The page became the site for the artwork, each artist free to utilise it as they liked. Each artist provided text to contextualise their artworks and to give an entry point for readers. The […]

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  • georgette-header

    Inside the Vibrating Room: A Conversation with Georgette Brown

    “There was an earthquake in Wellington. It was the only earthquake I’ve ever felt intensely. I had to go stand in the doorway. Then my mirror, which was perched against my wall on top of my dresser, not hung up or anything, fell down and smashed right next to me. It was the only thing […]

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  • Izzy web

    Izzy Carson

    This is my apartment for another nineteen days it’s too hot to sleep in this small room – SPONSORED – people tell me the temperature in fahrenheit and I convert it to celsius on my phone I leave my bedroom door open and turn on the fan at night . I think it’s important to […]

    by

  • cheeseburgertower

    Page Works

    This issue we asked seven young Wellington-based artists and recent Fine Arts graduates to create an original ‘page work’ for Salient. The page became the site for the artwork, each artist free to utilise it as they liked. Each artist provided text to contextualise their artworks and to give an entry point for readers. The […]

    by

  • georgette-header

    Inside the Vibrating Room: A Conversation with Georgette Brown

    “There was an earthquake in Wellington. It was the only earthquake I’ve ever felt intensely. I had to go stand in the doorway. Then my mirror, which was perched against my wall on top of my dresser, not hung up or anything, fell down and smashed right next to me. It was the only thing […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • Louisa Beatty

    louisa

    What is your most memorable experience of art?

    Last year at the CIRCUIT symposium Sean Kerr presented his talk via desk lamp and I’ve just finished watching the series Stranger Things, which if you’ve seen it (everyone should) this will sound familiar (so maybe that’s why it’s fresh on my mind atm), but it was pretty great watching this lamp discuss the activation of objects in a lecture theatre of people.

    What is your favourite medium?

    I’m pretty open to using whatever materials I have access to. For the past couple of years most of my work has been made with a lil handy cam that I was given, which suits me because it’s a really easy and immediate way of collecting. I’m a bit of a hoarder. I think photography / moving image became a quick fix for constantly trying to drag rocks and trash I liked home with me.

    Tell a story about your page:

    This is a print of a photo of a video of a fire extinguisher and a fan in the Gaudí museum.

    http://louisa-photostream.tumblr.com.

     

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  • Lokal Stories

    lokal

    What is your most memorable experience of art?

    Hana: I started crying when I saw Shannon Te Ao’s Follow the Party of the Whale at the Blue Oyster a few years ago during Puaka Matariki. It’s so beautiful and meditative. I cannot stress how powerful and important that work was in being shown in Ōtepoti, because of the denial and erasure of our traumatic colonial history in that community.

    Jordana: In 2011, at the age of seventeen, visiting an art gallery (City Gallery Wellington), for the first time on a Dannevirke High School field trip. Everyone teasing me for crying on the bus home over Erica van Zon’s Untitled (2009), a neon text work stating “Don’t Make your Heart a Lion’s Den.” As part of the group exhibition Tender is the Night, curated by Heather Galbraith.

    What is your favourite interpretation or misinterpretation of your work?

    Hana: A reviewer said that my work was “confessional.” I guess he felt that me speaking to my experiences of gendered emotional and domestic labour in the service and fine arts industries is just gossipy right?  

    Jordana: Still Life With Flowers (Narcissus), my first video based performance piece made during my final year of fine arts school (2015). In the work I am reclining naked, veiled in silk drapery, gripping a bouquet, sustaining a pose like Manet’s Olympia, (which eventually made me convulse). The tutors speculated I was recieving cunniligus out of frame.   

    How did you come to call yourself an artist, and are you comfortable calling yourself an artist?

    Hana: I would prefer to be called a mogul. Lol. No idk, I’m a writer more than an artist.

    Jordana: I didn’t, everyone else did and yes.

    What ideas or theme or issues do you focus on with your work?

    Hana: I feel like all the work I’ve been making recently centres around how many tabs I have open on my computer and a lot of my texts are more like extended subtweets. ATM I’m interested in the intersections between capitalism and colonisation through text, technology, and performance. I’m really interested in intimacy too, like critical intimacy.

    Jordana: Digital documentation of the self as an act of self defense, and preservation against the erasure of women’s lived experiences and histories.

    What is your favourite medium?

    Hana: Google docs, tote bags, seminars, and clothing.

    Jordana: Photography, video, and performance.

    What do you want the viewer to feel when they look at your page?

    Hana: Warmth, empathy.

    Jordana: Like I’m in love with them.

    Tell a story about your page:

    Hana: I hope that you feel okay.

    Jordana: This should feel like looking into the sun.

    Find out more at kollektivgallery.com/lokalstories, Twitter #lokalstories, Instagram @lokal_stories.

    Lokal Stories is an Aotearoa based initiative, funded by Wellington City Council and Creative New Zealand, and directed by Sophie Giblin. Self Care Mantra was written by Lokal Stories artists and writers Jordana Bragg and Hana Pera Aoake, and was designed by our collaborator Sean Burn.

    Lokal Stories combats cyber hate towards marginalised groups and explores how neo-colonialism has changed online identities today. We encourage digital togetherness by learning how to be a good ally and practice self care URL and IRL.

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  • Izzy Carson

    izzy

    This is my apartment for another nineteen days

    it’s too hot to sleep

    in this small room

    people tell me the temperature in fahrenheit and I convert it to celsius on my phone

    I leave my bedroom door open and turn on the fan at night

    .

    I think it’s important to find something sacred in your normal spaces, the everyday architecture of your life

    it’s like when you visit a museum or a cathedral

    the hush that comes over you as you feel so small but like there is so much significance in your presence, in your history, in the history of this place

    I like these precious moments in my room, finding things hidden

    the past things and the things we end up leaving behind

    .

    This is my third home in four months

    there are holes in the wall from absent paintings or photographs hung in a previous tenancy, little punctuation marks; full stops

    wavy brush strokes of mismatched paint

    someone’s smudged fingerprints on the doorframe, a reminder of bodies that have slept where I am trying to sleep now

    there is a tiny metal pin in the shape of an angel that landed on the floor as I moved a chest of drawers

    it’s gold

    and sharp, if I had stepped on it I would have hurt myself

    but I heard it fall and so I put it back

     

    izzycarson.tumblr.com

     

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  • Ten things about me

    faith

    1. ‘When you’re the absolute best, you get hated on the most.’
    2. ‘My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater… That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone who has done so much, and that’s a mentality that suppresses humanity…’
    3. ‘One of my biggest achilles heels has been my ego. And if I, Faith Wilson, can remove my ego, I think there’s hope for everyone.’
    4. ‘I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.’
    5. ‘I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice.’
    6. ‘I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.’
    7. ‘I’m doing pretty good as far as geniuses go… I’m like a machine. I’m a robot. You cannot offend a robot.’
    8. ‘The Bible had 20, 30, 40, 50 characters in it. You don’t think that I would be one of the characters of today’s modern Bible?’
    9. ‘I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.’
    10. ‘I jog in Lanvin.’

     

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  • Claire Harris

    claire

    What is your most memorable experience of art?

    Seeing the music video for Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” on TV as a child and watching all the scary knick knacks from my Catholic grandparents’ house get repurposed into something glamorous and sexy that made complete sense without me knowing why. It was like an awakening into all the possibilities of meaning that were in images. Also after that I could sleep in Nana and Pop’s spare bedroom without being afraid that the Sacred Heart of Jesus would eat me.

    What ideas or theme or issues do you focus on with your work?

    Humour, celebrity, popular culture, auto-biography, fandom, art as therapy, the public performance of emotions and trauma, former child stars, boy bands, and professional wrestling. I’m pretty narcissistic in my art work. It’s almost always about the cultural landscape and forces that have made me who I am, and all the stuff I’m obsessed with as a result.

    What is your favourite medium?

    In general, photography. I love good photography.

    My favourite medium to work in is endurance video marathon watch along. Actually anything where there is some kind of sequence or narrative, whether that’s video, live performance, zines / comics, or installations.

    I do worry that my approach is half-arsed. I always seem to learn just enough about something to do (roughly) the thing I wanted to do, then switch to something else. Hopefully I’ve got another 60+ years of art output to get properly good at something.

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  • Callum Devlin

    callum

    b. 1993

    ENFP

    Aquarius

    I want to find myself. Not me now, but like, future me. I want to sit down for a coffee and talk to them. I want to ask them everything. I have a feeling that somewhere out there, there’s this person. Someone of similar circumstances, who has made similar decisions, and had a similar amount of good fortune up until this current point. My plan is to go out and find this person.*

    On the opposite page is a WANTED ad that ran in the public notices section of the Dominion Post on Friday, August 5, 2015. The Dominion Post has a print run of 68,000, with a total readership of around 180,000 people. This is the first, tiny step, in a documentary project that I am undertaking. Honestly, this is the best bit. I have had this idea for months and talked about it way too much with people that mostly aren’t interested. Now it’s a thing. A tiny wee thing that cost $38.64 to (literally) materialise.

    *If this person is you, please get in touch.

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  • BENT

    bent

    (g) everyday painter

    2016

    bong hit on notebook

    190 x 270mm

    Among some of the classic conceptual project ideas, are the collections of random or specific things, of rare or ordinary processes, and of high and low values. The stain on the right is part of a recent body of work called Everyday Paintings. The series is informed by routine and habit and has as a focus the recreational consumption of cannabis, or chop if you like. Using smoke as pigment, the medium is only live for very short time, making it hard to control or gain composition. Hence we worked on the series every day until finished in an attempt and intent to imply and apply blurs to art / life divisions.

    You can find Bent’s work in the public or on www.bentdomain.com.

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  • Sweet 16

    Save the date ’cause we’re having a party!

     

    I received my invitation to celebrate the sixteenth birthday of Enjoy Public Art Gallery, and boy was I excited!

    All dressed up and ready to party, I made my way to Caroline with a few friends—I remember exclaiming that this would be the party of the year.

    Balloons and streamers were everywhere, silver fringe framed the door in which you walked through and everything sparkled. Beer in hand and friends by my side, I wished Emma Ng, curator, and Louise Rutledge, communications / publications manager, a loving happy birthday.

    Now my main focus was the dance floor where Callum Devlin and Jordana Bragg’s DANCEDONTDANCE DJ set / performance was so lit that the entire art community were getting low and v sweaty. A new way to make friends or to have the time your life, probably one of the best dance parties I’ve experienced.

    It was a night to remember, full of thanks, appreciation, and love. A pink layered birthday cake made by Cake For Breakfast was the sweetest treat and a wonderful way to congratulate and celebrate Enjoy’s achievements—I just wonder what Emma and Louise wished for.

    Sixteen years is a big deal. A space that was initially only temporary has become important in Wellington’s / New Zealand’s art scene.

    The motivation to establish Enjoy was the lack of variety of exhibition opportunities for artists. With the establishment of many dealer galleries in Wellington, Enjoy was birthed to allow artists to show work without the pressures and limitations of dealer galleries / larger public art galleries—to showcase innovative, experimental, and challenging visual arts. “Enjoy provides a new form of artistic experience for the Wellington Public. We see this as essential to the establishment of emerging and experimental artists within the Wellington / New Zealand art community, and vital to a healthy arts scene.” There would be no price tags and no commissions; a completely non-for profit artist run space with full intention to focus on art as experience and as a practice, rather than a product.  

    It has been 16 years since the opening of Enjoy in June 2000, originally located at 174 Cuba Street (above Olive). Viewfinder was the first project that exhibited at Enjoy, consisting of five week long exhibitions, each work responding to the five windows in the gallery. Enhancing the architecture of the space, the premise of the show was to create discussions surrounding each artist’s different interpretations of the same theme. From the removal of glass windows, to the display and slow rot of mandarins, tamarillos, carrots, and brussel sprouts, to glossy photographs of polyurethane and sets of bags filled with air ‘sent’ from some of Wellington’s dealer galleries—Viewfinder was the beginning of something radical.

    It’s been quite a year for Enjoy with the development of a new website, the release of the third five year retrospective catalogue, and a new curator Sophie Davis, who joins late August. Enjoy enters a new phase like the ever changing moon. This coincides with the rite of passage of turning sixteen, a coming of age party celebrating one entering into a new stage of life. I’m excited to see what’s next.

    Enjoy Gallery continues to show work that encourages and promotes a progressive art scene that engages in critical discourse and contemporary art practise in all its forms. They also know how to party!

    HBD Enjoy and may all your wishes come true, xo.

     

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  • American Horror Story

    It’s that time of the year when American Horror Story promo material starts to appear and theories begin to roll in, with this year’s rumours involving Lady Gaga as a twisted fairy, the lost British colony of Roanoke, exorcisms, and spooky children of the corn. But only one thing can be certain: as long as Ryan Murphy makes this show it will be a mess of over-complicated side stories and sadistic violence and I will watch every stupid episode. Here are the first five seasons ranked:

    #5: HOTEL (Season Five)

    The inspiration for the eponymous hotel is the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, former home of serial killer Richard Ramirez and location of the eternally creepy Eliza Lam case, when the body of a 21 year old woman disappeared after she was seen acting erratically on the hotel’s security footage only for her body to be found weeks later in a rooftop water tank… discovered when residents complained of discoloured tap water. Unfortunately there is way too much going on in this season. Vampires? Ghosts? Demons? Heroin addicts? Serial killers? Lady Gaga (but she looks great)?

    PROS: Evan Peters as Mr March, serial killer parties.

    CONS: They played “Hotline Bling” and I couldn’t handle it.

    #4: COVEN (Season Three)

    While it’s not necessarily bad, I didn’t find Coven particularly memorable. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric Roberts, star of the “Mr Brightside” music video) is in this season and she’s great but in the way where you can tell she isn’t really acting and is just lowkey evil. There is a lot of really messy stuff about race that never really goes anywhere. Kathy Bates is fantastic (duh) playing real life awful person Madame LaLaurie, a socialite and serial killer in early 1800s New Orleans.

    PROS: Witches are cool, aesthetic etc.

    CONS: The episode about Stevie Knicks is honestly bizarre.

    #3: FREAK SHOW (Season Four)

    A lot of people hate on this season for a lack of discernible plot, but Murphy’s “style over substance” show-running really won me over, as a huge fan of the sideshow culture that originated with the Barnum & Bailey Circus and was infamously featured in Todd Browning’s Freaks. Sarah Paulson is amazing as conjoined twins Bette and Dot, and the supporting cast is made up of great actors and performers who have physical abnormalities and disabilities instead of just casting able-bodied actors.

    PROS: Twisty the clown, Dandy the psychotic rich white boy of your nightmares.

    CONS: Lobster fisting, all the singing.

    #2: ASYLUM (Season Two)

    Asylum is the most cohesive and genuinely terrifying season between the psychopathic Bloodyface and the bleak reality of mid 1900s mental health “care.” Jessica Lange is breathtaking! Sarah Paulson kills it, Evan Peters too. It would be number one on this list but there is some really confusing and vague alien stuff that bogs the story down.

    PROS: Strong female leads, lead singer of Maroon 5 killed early on.

    CONS: Very fucked up and often triggering content (definitely not uncommon for this show).

    #1 MURDER HOUSE (Season One)

    Ryan Murphy has made a lot of shows I have enjoyed ie. Nip/Tuck, Popular, but it’s true of his work that the first seasons are incredible and after that it’s anyone’s guess. When Murder House came out it was super exciting, horrifying, and fresh and it still holds up. There are solid twists and scares and it’s the good kind of messy. If you haven’t seen any of American Horror Story and you’re a horror fan I would start here!

    PROS: Teen angst and an iconic scene where a man cries and masturbates over a lamp.

    CONS: Fairly graphic content involving sexual assault.

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  • Pints with PlayShop

    Most of us would shudder at the thought of partaking in improvised theatre. The pressure of creating something on the spot and in front of an audience is enough to deter anyone. Incredibly, there are a group of wonderful Wellingtonians that take our worst fears and turn them into an exciting, interactive, and hilarious theatre form—the improvised theatre-company, PlayShop.

    Ophelia Wass sat down with Lori Leigh (Company Director), Jonny Paul, Ryan Knighton, Maria Williams, and Stevie Hancox-Monk over a couple of brews and discussed all things improv.

     

    What is PlayShop?

    Lori: PlayShop is a company / community / network of people that are interested in creating spontaneous interactive theatre, in the moment, that brings people joy. I just improvised that statement.

    What is a typical PlayShop rehearsal like?

    Jonny: We get together on a Tuesday at Victoria Uni to mess around for three hours and work on our craft. Improvisation is a sport at heart and you can’t rehearse it at all. Instead, you can practise skills and techniques, get to know each other better, get used to how people play, and do all the stuff that makes us funnier, hopefully, on stage.

    Stevie: Lori also leads workshops that are skill-based and very important for refining and maintaining our improvisation craft.

    What does it take to be an improviser?

    Lori: The ability to run towards to fear.

    Jonny: Honesty. An audience will always know if you’re lying.

    Ryan: The right attitude. You have to know that when you start out that you’re not going to be great. There will be a teething period and it will hard. Push through it!

    Stevie: You have to trust your scene partners and fellow company members, that they will accept all of yours offers and work to make you look good.

    What is an improviser’s favourite colour?

    Stevie: Red.

    Jonny: Blue.

    Lori: You know when you close your eyes, and you just sort of see all colours.

    Jonny: Oh, are we being creative?

    Ryan: All of them probably. Brown, no one ever picks that one.

    Maria: I can’t do this briefly. I am very fond of yellow because of all it represents regarding happiness and sunshine. I also always liked orange. When I was six years old they did a bar chart of everyone’s favourite colour in school and I was the only person in the class whose favourite colour was orange. So I feel like I have to stay loyal to orange.

    What is your favourite improv memory?

    Jonny: During a show put on by PlayShop called Admen (an improvised Madmen), Stevie played a character called Shannon, from Shannon. At the beginning of the scene we found out that Shannon had a child. When this revelation came out, one solitary person in the audience just said, “what?!” Then, at the end of the show, Shannon decided she would go back to Shannon to look after her child and one person did a single clap in the audience. We assume it was the same person from earlier. Clearly the character arc was complete for them.

    Final words?

    Ryan: We live in a community that does not encourage much failure within the arts, where practitioners can feel like everything you have to produce needs to be of a certain standard and we’re always striving for perfection. Improv is a lovely thing that encourages failure and makes it beautiful.

    PlayShop Gigs

    What: PlayShop Live! A weekly improv show with a relaxed and informal comedy vibe.

    When: Fridays, 9pm.

    Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace.

    Cost: $10 concession for students!

    The company is also involved with children’s shows, festivals, and show seasons.

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  • Plastic show and interview

    Melbourne-based band Plastic graced our shores with a three stop tour last week, playing in Wellington at Moon bar in Newtown. Four fifths of the band were formerly known as Five Mile Town, a Silver scroll nominated Auckland alt-folk-rock band. After moving to Melbourne in 2013, the band continued to play but leaned away from their previously acoustic instrumentation and added a keyboard player to their line up. Frontman Louis McDonald explains “it was time to start a new band really, we wanted to do a new thing. The music we were writing for so long didn’t really reflect anything we had done and we kinda just wanted to start again.” The core elements of the band remain intact: their strength in songwriting being carried over into their new iteration as Plastic, while they ditched the restrictions of acoustic guitars and double bass and added more guitar effects, synth lines, and drum machines. “We had written quite a lot of different stuff for Five Mile Town, but we just decided to make an acoustic EP at first. We just ended up pigeonholing ourselves a bit. We weren’t that good, the music wasn’t that complicated, and we just felt now that we had got better.”

    The move to Melbourne in 2013 was a somewhat spontaneous decision. “It was ill planned. We had one gig at The Toff and bought one way tickets. But it’s as easy as moving down the road. The majority of us were living at home, and we were like ‘oh we could move out, or just move to Melbourne.’ It’s like moving to Grey Lynn or whatever.” The band members seemed to quickly integrate into the Melbourne music community, both playing, and working in, music. McDonald works at Found Sound, a renowned vintage gear store in Melbourne frequented by the likes of Courtney Barnett and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Keyboard player Louis plays in other Melbourne bands including a bigger soul / funk group. Ryan (drummer) and Levi (Guitar) both DJ, and Ryan makes electronic music under the name Ryan Berkley. McDonald also played in Fly My Pretties—the Five Mile Town track “Fatal Flaw” featuring on their 2013 record. “It was a complete eye opener for me, playing a completely different role in another band, which I don’t really do a lot of,” says McDonald. Ryan elaborates, “before I had my own personal outlet, I always wanted to kind of drag what I was listening to into the band, even if it wasn’t appropriate. But now I’ve got my own outlet, I don’t feel the need to bring that in. So it kind of puts your role in the band into more perspective.”

    The EP Nightmares was released in August last year but the band has since been self-recording new music. Louis explains, “we’ve got a studio space with a couple of friends in other bands… it’s good to just leave stuff there so if you’re like ‘hey I wanna go in and track something, try something,’ there’s just freedom to do it at any point, which is kinda cool.” The band’s continuous writing was reflected in their live set which covered most of the EP and some unreleased tracks. They play like a group that’s been together for a number of years (because they have). Their loose, quick bursts of overdriven guitar are held down by a solid rhythm section—the drums always grooving along interestingly but never fading away or going overboard. The general vibe at Moon was fairly mellow, but in the right circumstances Plastic could definitely provide a raucous evening. Their unreleased tracks sounding dancier and somewhat braver than their EP.

    In regards to upcoming releases the band says “it depends how it goes, because we’re doing it all by ourselves… I reckon we’ll record a bunch of songs and then be like alright are 12 songs album worthy, or will it just be a really solid thing if its like six or seven of them.”

    “Between us we have a very eclectic taste” says Ryan, and from the band’s show and our chat, it does seem that they are ready and willing to go in any direction they want to at the moment. Hopefully they come back to NZ soon and release more music in the near future, as I’m sure their next effort will be sufficiently surprising.

    Check the band out on Facebook and Bandcamp (musicplastic.bandcamp.com). The full audio from our interview will be online soon, on the Salient FM website.

     

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  • Arca—Entrañas

     

    “Girls can wear jeans / And cut their hair short / Wear shirts and boots / Because it’s OK to be a boy / But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading / Because you think that being a girl is degrading / But secretly, you’d love to know what it’s like / Wouldn’t you? / What it feels like for a girl.”

    — “Cement Garden Interlude” (Sample of Charlotte Gainsberg’s speech from the film Cement Garden).

     

    3AM, Saturday Morning: You’re staring into the overpriced coffee you bought from the only place that was open after trudging out of the club and into the streets. It’s raining, and you’re uncomfortably damp, but not quite wet enough to call it a night and head home just yet. Something’s about to happen, you can feel it in your bones. You don’t know quite what, but if you leave right now you’ll miss it, so you sit there, staring into your coffee as your friends beg you to head back to the hall / flat / squalid basement you call a home, questioning if you belong there, if you belong anywhere.

    4AM: The semi deserted diner churns, people moving in and out, faster than you can process. Is it the pills you took in the bathroom while someone threw up in the stall next to you? Your friends have gone and you’re alone now. You haven’t dried off, you’ve been sweating too much. It must be those pills. Was three too many? You said you could handle it but you’re feeling the kebab you had earlier work its way up your oesophagus forcing you to dash to the dilapidated toilet at the back of the diner.

    5AM: You drag yourself out of the diner and back into the street. The rain is still coming down and you don’t have your coat. You stare at your dead phone, questioning if you still had the enough money in your account to catch a taxi home. You aren’t even sure if a taxi would let you in, you caught a reflection of yourself and you look like shit. There’s flecks of vomit on your shirt and you can’t remember if its yours or not. Someone’s dropped a 20 and you grab it (you notice one of your fingers is swelling), thinking it may be your ticket outta here.

    6AM: After catching a night bus you’re closer to home, to safety, respite. You still can’t check your phone, so you don’t know if your friends give a shit you made it back or not. Do you give a shit? Something was meant to happen tonight and it never did. Was it because you left? Or was it because you sat for so long in that shitty diner waiting for something to come to you when you were meant to go out and find it yourself.

    This is the harrowing journey of listening to Entrañas. There’s a sense of anticipation, of unhealthy longing, this sick desire throughout that is never realised. There’s a constant state of tension, of being unnervingly on edge, and there is no respite until the closing tracks when a Spanish man croons. Its shortness betrays its depth, clocking in at only 25 minutes. It’s a breathless ride, punctured with distressing drums, eerily edited moans, groans, wails, and screams. It makes for phenomenal listening, putting you on the edge of your seat and refusing to let up, but shit, I’m glad it’s over.

     

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  • Pokémon GO: The Disaster I Really Should Have Seen Coming

    Way to go, Niantic. You’re making me look like a fucking idiot.

    Since my original defence of Pokémon GO just a few weeks ago, a lot of negativity has come up surrounding the game, and not just from the usual “gamers are losers” crowd. Much of the game’s core fan base are up in arms over some of the game’s ongoing issues and Niantic’s response to them, which has been less than exemplary. I still haven’t had an opportunity to play the game, but needless to say, the FOMO I talked about in my original Pokémon GO piece is quickly evaporating.

    The game is yet another example of a major release being pushed out the door before it was ready. The server issues I alluded to a few weeks ago have seemingly abated as the launch hype dissipated, but each new update to the game has brought in more bugs and has made gameplay a more frustrating experience. The infamous “three step glitch” made it appear that all Pokémon were as far away from your position as possible, making a player’s hunt for specific Pokémon into something of a crapshoot since you had no idea where they actually were. In addition, many players have lost in-game items, mostly eggs, after crashes and server failures, while freezing and performance issues are quite common.

    Yeah, that’s not good. I have made it very clear in the past that releasing an incomplete and buggy game is completely unacceptable, and mobile games are no exception. Pokémon GO is probably the biggest game release of the year, beyond even Overwatch, and it pains me to see it in such a poor state. This should have been a sure-fire win for gamers, and while it has been successful, success is sadly not always an indicator of quality.

    However what pushes this situation from being mildly infuriating into table-flipping rage has been how Niantic has been dealing with the players. Or should it be: how they haven’t dealt with them, since it appears Niantic is completely unable to deal with any sort of public relations at all? Most of those bugs that I mentioned? They weren’t all there to begin with, most arose during updates which were completely unannounced beforehand, not even on official social media accounts! They then went and shot themselves in the foot and removed the tracking feature altogether, not just to fix the three step glitch, but to make it impossible for third party websites to track Pokémon Go—all unannounced and unexplained. Since most regarded tracking as a necessary feature, you can understand why people are mad. Even those who wanted to request refunds are shit-out-of-luck, since those go to an unmonitored email address in breach of the Android terms and conditions, which could potentially see the game be pulled.

    If media studies has taught me one thing, it’s that communication is as much about what you say as what you do: by doing nothing in response to an outcry, you’re implying that you just don’t care what the audience thinks. By failing to inform people when and why certain changes were made to the game, Niantic have subsequently inflamed a potential PR disaster and it could well come back to bite them. While I have nothing against people who are continuing to enjoy Pokémon GO, it’s kind of hypocritical of me to continue to defend a game whose ongoing problems go against everything I stand for as a games critic.

    Niantic, just hire a PR person. It’ll solve an awful lot.

    by

  • Captain Fantastic

    ★★★★

    Director: Matt Ross

     

    The biggest praise I can give this film is that you’ll probably leave the cinema wishing, just a little bit, that Ben (Viggo Mortensen) was your father.

    In a nuanced and unabashedly glorious turn, Mr Mortensen brings us Ben, aka Captain Fantastic, a father who has taken to raising his six children in the middle of the wilderness and has to bring them out to the society in the wake of a personal tragedy. Suddenly the six incredibly fit, healthy, and intelligent children are shown the world of Xbox’s, Coca Cola, and pre-cooked chickens. It is the interwoven commentary of the children and their fathers journey that is so beautiful in this film, as well as the general concerns it raises for western society as a whole.

    If you haven’t already picked up, I’m a huge Mortensen fan and his performance as a man trying to both protect and help his children is moving at the best of times, but also hilarious. The plot does admittedly spin its wheels for some extended periods, and the finale does feel like a long time coming, but the interplay between the incredibly believable family is enough to tide you over until the story kicks in again. In short, this feels like another indie triumph with a dash of Little Miss Sunshine, and a dash of Wes Anderson, but mostly something all of its own. If you’re despairing for the earth or (like me) craving some Mortensen, go check this one out.

    by

  • Midnight Special

    ★★★★

    Director: Jeff Nichols

     

    Following in the footsteps of Spielberg’s excellent sci-fi output of previous decades, this new film from the acclaimed director of Mud, Jeff Nichols, is a mashup of classic government conspiracy and sci-fi tropes of the 70s, with a twist of darkness and an element of the supernatural. Think less E.T. and more Cloverfield.

    The film drops us in the midst of a father and son’s attempt to escape the CIA and a very Gloriavale-esque cult, both of whom want the man’s son, eight year old Alton, for his supposed supernatural abilities. What ensues is a deeply engaging thriller which side-steps the overblown Hollywood style in favour of slow burning drama with occasional riveting flares of action that are graphic and thought provoking. The actors all pull their weight, with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, and Kirsten Dunst honing the story down to its emotional core of a father who will do anything for son.

    Jeff Nichols bring a subtleness to the film and his sparing use of CGI make it a visual treat, with stunning night photography and methodical pacing. The only real issue is that a little too much of the steam gets lost in the third act, as some of characters moments could really have been shelved earlier in the film and the editor could have been a tad more heavy handed in spearheading the final scenes, but the final pay off more than makes up for this. If 10 Cloverfield Lane was your jam, then this is your second fix of riveting sci-fi for 2016.

    by

  • Swiss Army Man

    ★★★★

    Directors: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan

     

    This is about the strangest film you’re likely to see this year. If you haven’t heard of it (or seen the trailer), a brief summation would be that Hank (Paul Dano) is lost in the wilderness with nothing but the corpse of Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), giving a somewhat limp performance for company and survival. As it turns out, Manny has a few tricks up his decomposing sleeves and he and Hank go on a quest to get back to civilisation, whereupon they both learn important life lessons.

    Bar the fact that one of the characters is dead, this could have been a fairly middle of road affair, but what occurs on screen is a blisteringly original tale, that is both heartfelt and hilarious with a beautiful message to match its ridiculous premise. Hank is fantastic as the run down everyman who is stranded in the physical sense, and the emotional. He pines after a girl he’s never spoken to and watched everyday on the bus. Radcliffe gives a potential career best as Manny, dead-un-dead corpse who farts, a lot, and it’s probably the best flatulent humour you’ll see in any movie, period.

    But acting and comedy aside, the story pulls through with a strong afore-mentioned message of isolation, repression, and longing for companionship, which elevates the material to new heights. The second act may not have the pace (although it does contain a lot of beautiful production), and the ending may not land exactly how most people want it too, but it’s a truly charming movie and it’s all wrapped up in a heartbreaking soundtrack, and yes, farts.

    by

  • Greasy Strangler

    ★★★★★

    Director: Jim Hosking

     

    This completely bizarre, stomach-churning, fun-filled film with infantile dialogue, cartoonish gore, and full-frontal male nudity is an absolute masterpiece. 

    At its core, the film is about a love triangle between a father (Big-Ronnie), his simple-minded son Brayden (who runs a walking disco-tour), and one of their only customers Janet. Meanwhile there is a terrifying, slimy murderer on the loose named the Greasy Strangler who looks a hell of a lot like Big Ronnie…. A near perfect mix of John Waters and Tim & Eric, the humour is crass, abrasive, and completely hilarious.

    The thing I really enjoyed about this film is just how unapologetically ugly everything is; from the cast with their uneven skin tones, overweight hairy bodies, and misshapen genitals to the dysfunctionality of every on-camera relationship. As ridiculous as it is, it still kind-of says something about how love is portrayed in media. I mean really, there are way more Willem Dafoes and Lena Dunhams than there are Ryan Goslings and Scar-Jos out there, right?

    Though maybe the best thing about watching midnight movies like this is other patron’s reactions. In the hour and a half run of this film I witnessed two walkouts, and sat next to a man who groaned heavily at every sighting of an exposed penis, not at the excessive violence or the consumption of straight grease (so if you’re interested in watching this film, perhaps line up a movie night with some friends you know won’t appreciate it for the benefit of yourself).

    I give this film five stars because why not? It’s not Citizen Kane, but that’s not what it set out to be; it set out to be a cheap, weird shock factor film that totally achieved it’s goals while cracking me up in the process.

    by

  • The Sense of an Ending

    ★★★★

    Author: Julian Barnes

    Publisher: Jonathan Cape

    Man Booker Prize 2011

     

    This compact yet weighty novel from Julian Barnes took me a while to ease into when I read it a couple of years ago for an English literature class. There was plenty to turn me off: an ‘old white male’ narrator looking back on his yesteryears, plenty of stuffy British academia, jacking off into sinks etc. But what Barnes does with the last third of the book is really quite stunning, and had me reassessing all the biased judgements I had made previously.

    The narrator of the story, Tony, is retired, divorced, and living a quiet, rather uneventful life. He begins remembering his schooldays and a particular friend, Adrian. Adrian was different from the other boys at school—he seemed sure of himself and wise beyond his years—and Tony admires him.

    Tony and Adrian finish school and head off to different universities, but remain friends. Tony finds himself a girlfriend, Veronica, and they endure a fumbling relationship. Not long after their breakup, Tony receives a letter from Adrian informing him that he and Veronica are now dating. After sending a cold reply, Tony cuts off all contact with Adrian. Several months later, he learns that Adrian has committed suicide. It is forty years later when documents turn up that set Tony on the path of discovering what led his friend to take his own life.

    The Sense of an Ending deals with the blind spots and the revisions of memory, and how events from the past can change upon recollection. It also examines the foolishness of youth and the wisdom we can gain with age. Stodgy Tony became to me, if not likable, at least sympathetic as a character. He is a man stumbling in the dark of events that took place forty years ago, with the things that he assumed to be true thrown up into the air. Barnes has deftly put us in the same position as his narrator, reassessing what we know and changing our perception. This is a novel which has stayed with me long after reading, pondering the nature of memory and how we can be so misled by ourselves.

    by

  • The White Tiger

    ★★★

    Author: Aravind Adiga

    Publisher: Free Press

    Man Booker Prize 2008

     

    My poor stomach was made to twist again and again as I read this distasteful, vulgar, Man Booker Prize-winning novel. There’s nothing quite like this description of poverty: not in terms of humble, hard-working, and cheerful peasants, or having a single bar of chocolate for your birthday, but rather the hot, putrid stench of sweat, filth, and excrement stirred eagerly in a rusty pot with cheap alcohol and tobacco spit.

    There’s poverty in sweet old children’s books and then there’s poverty in the slums of Northern India, and the central figure of this story—hardly the protagonist, but still in the role of narrator—is angry as hell. Balram Halwai, from the caste of sweet-makers, pulled out of school, and living in the wake of the death of both his parents, is buoyed only by his mad hope that one day he will become like his idol, Vijay—the lowly bus conductor turned politician, who climbed the ladder of success to such dizzying heights that he actually got to wear a uniform. Balram consequently becomes a personal chauffeur to a wealthy businessman, but, alas, his education in the ways of the rich serves to fuel his class fury.

    His boss, his beloved Mr Ashok, must be sacrificed in the name of progress, of a better life, of “entrepreneurship.” This is not a ‘spoiler-alert’ moment—we know this from the beginning. But the catch is not in the act of murder itself. It’s in Balram’s scathing account of the realities of poor India—the “darkness.”

    Money is both god and devil in his world. It is his only hope for salvation, and it is the burden bending his back in slavery. That’s why he’s never the hero of the story. He is never truly free to make right decisions, since he’s placed his faith in the power of wealth. Wealth says to him, do whatever it takes.

    Read this book if you wonder what it might be like to grow up in a poor Indian village, or if you honour the choices of the Man Booker Prize judges, or if you want to renew your appreciation for the comparatively clean streets of Wellington.

    by

  • 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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