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Issue 15, 2016


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  • Finishing in White

  • Te Puni maintenance portal turns into giant black hole

  • People noticed Re-OWeek this year

  • NZIFF hits Wellington

  • Nicola Young “gets stuff done”—Election coverage part II

  • Nah that’s Women’s Work

  • #ChangeTheGovt comes to VUW

  • Not earning a living wage is shit

  • UK universities’ gender imbalance grows

  • Jury still out on whether your degree is worth it

  • Wellington youth service in crisis

  • Features

  • LokalStories-Blue

    What’s ya story, Lokal?

    Sophie Giblin is a artist, feminist, educator, and founder of Kollektiv Gallery in the UK. She spoke with the Salient arts editors about Kollektiv’s latest project—Lokal Stories—which explores the hate that marginalised groups experience online. The project is in collaboration with local artists Jordana Bragg and Hana Pera Aoake, and brings internet culture to the […]


  • kahu

    If You’re From Waimana, Why Are You White?

    At this stage of early adulthood, we all want to figure out who we are and what we truly care about doing. No matter how far I search, there’s something I always keep coming back to. It is the way in which I experience the world through my body—the body of a young Māori woman. […]


  • her-body-politic

    Her Body Politic

    Women’s bodies have not been ours for a long time; they are commodified, traumatised, taken as ‘spoils’ during wartime, and sterilized without consent. We bear the sole responsibility of contraception, yet we still cannot decide if and when to terminate a pregnancy. When I think about all the times I’ve had to defend abortion as […]


  • 13836053_10153834752076347_1285324678_o

    Fawning over Frida

    “If somebody doesn’t like this painting… then I know they can’t be my friend.” — Madonna, to Vanity Fair in 1991, on Frida Kahlo’s painting My Birth.   Jayne accidentally underwent a Frida Kahlo immersion experience. On the Friday night she attended La Casa Azul at Circa Theatre, and the following Saturday she drove to […]


  • LokalStories-Blue

    What’s ya story, Lokal?

    Sophie Giblin is a artist, feminist, educator, and founder of Kollektiv Gallery in the UK. She spoke with the Salient arts editors about Kollektiv’s latest project—Lokal Stories—which explores the hate that marginalised groups experience online. The project is in collaboration with local artists Jordana Bragg and Hana Pera Aoake, and brings internet culture to the […]


  • kahu

    If You’re From Waimana, Why Are You White?

    At this stage of early adulthood, we all want to figure out who we are and what we truly care about doing. No matter how far I search, there’s something I always keep coming back to. It is the way in which I experience the world through my body—the body of a young Māori woman. […]


  • her-body-politic

    Her Body Politic

    Women’s bodies have not been ours for a long time; they are commodified, traumatised, taken as ‘spoils’ during wartime, and sterilized without consent. We bear the sole responsibility of contraception, yet we still cannot decide if and when to terminate a pregnancy. When I think about all the times I’ve had to defend abortion as […]


  • 13836053_10153834752076347_1285324678_o

    Fawning over Frida

    “If somebody doesn’t like this painting… then I know they can’t be my friend.” — Madonna, to Vanity Fair in 1991, on Frida Kahlo’s painting My Birth.   Jayne accidentally underwent a Frida Kahlo immersion experience. On the Friday night she attended La Casa Azul at Circa Theatre, and the following Saturday she drove to […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Sick as Poetry

    I remember this feeling of wanting to suffocate my body.

    His eyes were leering at me watching my breasts grow

    You learn when ur young that u perform all the emotional and domestic labour

    Competing against other women

    Learning and unlearning

    Gearing towards marriage and erasing ur māoriness and ur queerness to be desired and used by men who are just ‘nice guys’.

    Hide in the whiteness to be desired

    White skin, brown bones, brown soul

    Trauma melted into your bones


    The very young girl

    Lily Rose Depp on Instagram

    Idealised body

    Projected fantasy

    Fetishized other


    Feeling exhausted watching other women fight for the attention of men

    seeking validation in being desired.


    Someone u love having sex with u when ur too drunk and high to say anything

    Being told by ur entire friend group that ‘blurred lines don’t exist’.


    Having your identity erased over and over again

    White passing pania of the reef

    Queer invisibility

    Pania of the digital reef

    Oppression olympics


    Blood dissipating in the water.

    Pain like knives vibrating in your womb.

    Blood everywhere.

    Having a miscarriage when u didn’t even realise u were pregnant.


    Thinking about the Tatu video for all the things she said at age 13 then masturbating then crying


    Carrying a knife from age 11

    Keys between my knuckles


    In my togs bending over while blood gushed out of my body

    The horror of your alien body

    Cyborgization procedure by 2021

    A weight pulling my body down

    Oxygen slowly disappearing from my body


    Let’s not do this tonight

    9.20am 20/06 tell me I’m beautiful

    2.58pm 23/6 Let’s not do this on facebook

    Link attached Five Ways to Make a Woman Feel Really Loved

    Small talk in all small thing

    Five ways to say how wasteful

    How tasteless

    Days on end like this

    You smell like sex and my ex boyfriend and potpourri and you look

    like you smell like spearmint

    Sorry I romantically idealised you

    within an inch of my life last night

    Find any letter box you seem to like

    I like the metal ones that catch rain

    like they’re oily, for instance,

    Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures

    what I really want to read is the clickbait

    who was he wearing who was he dating

    when he wrote that

    Really is something

    If I could be a rock in a pond or the pond

    I guess I would have to be the pond, well, because I’m afraid of open bodies of water and if I was the rock I would be terrified,

    but if I was the pond, seems natural to me to be afraid of yourself

    Room To Move is a Two sided Thing

    My most recent google search for

    the definition of auto erotic asphyxiation

    Mt Hikurangi is the only place I might feel clean and even then I’m never there

    I have never been

    My first girlfriend and I first kissed

    in a tiny tin shed in the dark

    in Palmerston North in the home

    and garden section

    in the warehouse, my mum waited

    in the car, I hated the heat of it

    And she handed it back to me handle to me, blade to herself

    Excitable and entitled teens

    Raupo taranga, rengarenga, putaputaweta all beautiful things I’ve apologised to

    for falling into drunk

    5:56pm 8/10 no lol

    5:58pm 8/10 i mean, no, 0 libido



  • Crushing

    The Salient Arts Editors weigh in on some local art world queens.


    Lucy| Kate Newby

    I have an INCREDIBLE FEELING for Kate Newby and I know I am not the only one. Its things like walking, talking, sunlight, rain, and rocks that inspire her work. Puddles and plastic bags, incidental marks, and accidental assemblages found on streets and footpaths.

    The ephemeral nature of Newby’s work is seen through the semi-permanence of her objects—from people skimming her ceramic stones into various bodies of water, to large concrete rocks embedded with crystals—hidden in parks or by the side of the footpath.

    Her work can be missed if you are not looking closely enough. Collections of handcrafted and found objects enhance her connection to the environment and her experience within it. Laura, Lucy, Mark and Felix (2014) was a site responsive work on Oriental Bay in Wellington, where an unstable installation of hanging coloured ceramics appears and disappears. This created an awareness of the impermanent nature of the surroundings and the everyday.

    Newby’s work provides an openness to observe, to take notice, and to care about what you are experiencing around you. She is someone that I will not be getting over anytime soon.


    Ruby | Heather Galbraith

    When I think of Heather I think of a photo that came up on her Facebook a few years ago. A 21 year old Heather stands in front of an easel, face turned to look at the camera, behind her the debris of an art school studio. It is the early 90s and she is the epitome of grunge in a plaid skirt and thigh high socks, her brush poised over a Seraphine Pick-esque still life including daggers, pearls, and a vintage smock dress. She is goddamn adorable.

    In the years to come this lil’ babe is going to be off curating, directing galleries, judging art prizes, writing about art, speaking about art, taking New Zealand to the Venice Biennale…. Eventually coming full circle, to become the head of Whiti o Rehua School of Art at Massey University, and art-mum to a whole new hoard of fresh faced and plaid wearing art students.

    And this is where I first met Heather, in a paper she wrote about artists who interrogate feelings and relationships, and of course it was love at first word—changing my own (barely formed) practice for ever. When I think of Heather, I think of ALL the strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, creative, driven, women who graduate from art school, and then go on to kill it in all the ways possible.


    Robbie | Eve Armstrong

    Eve Armstrong is a full badass. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    In 2010 Eve participated in an exhibition in the south of the Netherlands called The Woods that See and Hear, curated by Sarah Farrar. The exhibition was held to address notions of sustainability, social responsibility, pollution, and regeneration from a post-environmentalist approach. For this, Eve took the remains of the farm buildings being demolished and left them in one clean pile in the centre of a lush green break in the landscape. A green isle between trees. Full. Badass.

    Eve’s work across her career has considered social, political, and cultural issues in the most careful but poignant ways. Namely her Trading Table, which was shown recently at the Auckland Art Fair. A simple formula that causes people to consider the neoliberal capitalist system we function within daily.

    Eve is a real-life functioning artist (with dealers and stuff!), a Mum, Wellington City Council Arts Advisor, and of course, a full badass.


    Louise | Ann Shelton

    It has been almost twenty years since Ann Shelton first published Redeye: a rampant, reckless, and voyeuristic collection of photographs documenting her friends and artists hectic social scene—punk, queer, outlandish, and firmly planted on K Road. Since then, Shelton has become one of New Zealand’s leading photographic artists.

    Turning her lens to landscapes and interiors, her work often deals with difficult histories (Hitler’s oaks, wastelands, execution sites) and investigates the social, political, and historical contexts that inform readings of the landscape. With a survey exhibition of her work opening at The Auckland Art Gallery in November this year and a documentary in in the works, 2016 is a great time to be Ann Shelton.  


  • Lady Dynamite, Season One



    A show about a forty-five year old mentally ill woman struggling to get her life and comedy career back on track after a mental breakdown could be really depressing, but from the opening credits Lady Dynamite aims to subvert that. A slapstick homage to Blaxploitation era films, costumes, wigs, random words thrown out over a wacky song (“Pickles!”)when I first pressed play I was worried I had wandered into Tim and Eric territory and was ready to back out, but I didn’t and I was richer for it.

    After an unfortunate undisclosed incident involving Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, comedian and voiceover artist Maria Bamford is diagnosed with Bipolar II and interred at a psychiatric ward in her home town of Duluth, Minnesota. With the clarity of her diagnosis also comes many new hurdles including broaching the subject of mental illness with her friends and family and trying to find love and understanding in a world of ‘normal’ people, not to mention struggling to muster the energy to maintain her stand-up career or even just stand up in general with her new draining psych meds.

    Visually and stylistically, the show is highly reminiscent of Arrested Development—director Mitch Hurwitz’s previous critical darling and light of my life (side note: I recently saw the Blue Man Group live, but that’s a story for another time). Lady Dynamite is full of colour and life and perhaps that is the only way to film a show whose content revolves largely around a manic and suicidally depressed middle-aged woman. The series is peppered with amazing comedic guest stars including Patton Oswalt, Jenny Slate, the Lucas Brothers, and my personal favourite Inside Amy Schumer’s Bridget Everett as one of Maria’s best friends (who passionately hates her other best friend). Oh, and there are two pugs and one of them sings.

    The true magic of Lady Dynamite lies in it being one of the most on-point shows to tackle the topic of mental illness to date. As someone who is mentally ill myself, representation in film and television is incredibly important to me and on the whole it’s pretty disappointing, with complex disorders often reduced to quirks and generalizations. This is particularly prevalent when it concerns mentally ill women, where you are given three categories: pale girls who write bad poetry, hysterical vengeful harpies, or the dreaded manic pixie dream girl—heaven forbid women not be sexualized even in regards to their mental health! Lady Dynamite refuses to indulge any of these stereotypes, giving an honest, if surreal, portrayal of what it’s like dealing with mental illness, medication, institutionalization, and recovery—even breaking the fourth wall to note that flashbacks set in Maria’s psych ward will have a blue wash to them, because it’s fucking miserable there.

    With only twelve episodes it’s easy to get lost in Maria’s mind for a day and then the dream is over, but one of my favorite things about the age of Netflix full-series releases is the notion that none of it is filler. To let loose a complete chunk of a show ready for binge watching means that it almost becomes a really long movie that you don’t want to turn off after seven hours, even though getting through all 179 minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street felt like a fucking battle. Each episode requires a cohesiveness and continuity and Lady Dynamite does it perfectly, coming to a surprisingly emotionally satisfying conclusion at the series’ end. In short: easily one of my favourite shows of 2016 and I can’t stop recommending it.



  • Women in Theatre (Majors)

    There a lot of women doing great things in Wellington theatre, but what about within the Victoria theatre program? Adeline and Ophelia sat down with three women, each at a different stage in their undergraduate theatre major, to see what kinds of opportunities there are for women studying at Victoria. Thanks to Nellie Panina (first year), Madeleine Warren (second year), and Ailise Beales (third year).


    Describe in a nutshell how your theatre major has been going this year:

    Nellie: It hasn’t been too riveting because of the THEA 101 theory paper. I don’t think it’s a great introduction to theatre, but the next course THEA 113 looks really interactive and will bring people out of their shell.  

    Madeleine: THEA 204 hits you with a whole bunch of old school theatre (think Shakespeare and Aristophanes) straight away. You get a taste for lots of different aspects of theatre—not just acting or theory. You can also sign up to do the lighting and all those interesting backstage jobs.

    Ailise: Incredible. Unbelievable. Best experience I have ever had at university. THEA 302 was such an authentic experience of the process of producing a show. You get all of these opportunities to take on technical roles and acting roles, and it is all under the guidance of a director who is so incredibly experienced.


    What opportunities have you been given during this year?

    Nellie: We have been notified about auditioning for the Young and Hungry Festival, and VUWTSS (Victoria University of Wellington Theatre Students Society) offers acting workshops.  

    Madeleine: I am currently in the theatre spiral of Wellington. There’s a Facebook group called the “Wellington Actors Group” which I joined and then that got me in contact with theatre companies and now I work for PlayShop (improvised theatre company). Opportunities come from talking to people around you at university. Everybody is so willing to give you the opportunities, you only need to look for them.

    Ailise: The biggest one would probably be VUWTSS. I was just in the right place at the right time and managed to get involved with the executive group and am now Co-President alongside Adam Hart. We’ve finally created a website which we are so proud of: This trimester we are working on publicity so that we can include all year levels in our workshops and meetings.


    What has been your biggest success in theatre this year?

    Nellie: Meeting other people who are just as interested in theatre as I am. People actually take theatre seriously at university and are passionate about it.

    Madeleine: Finding how I fit in with with the group of people taking second year papers was a really nice moment in trimester one. And actually feeling like a show went well because we all worked together.

    Ailise: Being apart of the THEA 302 production of Much Ado About Nothing—everything from the collaboration, the learning process, and the performance itself. It was all so home-grown.


    How do you feel as a woman taking a theatre degree?

    Ailise: I remember auditioning for Young and Hungry in first year and there was a guy sitting next to me in the waiting room and we got chatting. He said something along the lines of: “I’m not too nervous [about the audition] because I’m a guy and I’ll probably get a role anyway.” I sat there and looked at all of the women in the room and there were a lot in comparison to men. I remember thinking: “Wow, we really have to be mindful that the competition between women in theatre is so much fiercer because of the sheer number of us. The reality should be that we are much more supportive of each other and helping each other to succeed in this kind of a field.”


    A word that comes to mind when you think about theatre:

    Nellie: Unexpected.

    Madeleine: Blended family.

    Ailise: Fulfilling.



  • Music Therapy

    The power of music is profound; it has the ability to build you up, tear you down, or transport you to a different time and place in your life. It also has the ability to heal. Chances are you’ve had a nasty break-up before. You listened to Elliot Smith or Taylor Swift on repeat and wallowed for a while, but ultimately survived. Then, awhile later, you replay one of those comfort-songs you used to listen to and it all comes welling back. You have flashbacks of crying alone with a bottle of cheap wine and too many cigarettes—then suddenly you realize it doesn’t hurt anymore. Like scratching at an old scar, those pangs are just echoes of pain.

    May 21 marked the start of New Zealand’s first Music Therapy Week. The focus was to raise awareness of music therapy and to celebrate the great work its practitioners have been conducting all around the country. It is used to rehabilitate those with emotional, physical, intellectual, and social conditions. Music therapy focuses on encouragement and motivation, operating primarily within schools, retirement homes, and hospitals. The latter is where I first encountered it.  

    From February till April last year, I spent time in Wellington’s Te Whare o Matairangi suffering from severe depression. Medication was helping, but I still felt a lot of shame and self-doubt, and though friends and family visited frequently I was still isolated. I had been meeting with the music therapist twice a week. She would read my charts and know how I’d been acting that morning, whether or not I’d eaten or even left my room. She would visit me with a guitar and we’d sit and play together, but mostly we’d chat about artists I was interested in, their writing styles, and songs I loved—this conversation naturally moved into how the music reflected the way I feel. This was the first time I had been the one to initiate a conversation about how I felt.

    When you’re in a situation like I was you meet so many health professionals and they all sort of merge together, but there’s always that sense of power: I am the patient, you are the doctor/ nurse/ counselor/ whatever. There is a pressure and an anxiety in their presence: I must try to be honest about my progress. I must open up to you. Music disarms those feelings. It’s a safe distraction for the patient that reduces pain and eases anxiety. It gives you words that you might not have been able to articulate otherwise and builds confidence to communicate on your own terms and integrate back into a social environment.

    I had made enough progress in my time with the therapist that I felt confident enough to venture out after hours one night, to see Sharon Van Etten play at Bodega. I hadn’t been around a crowd of people in so long and I had a panic attack, but I kept telling myself why I was there and that once the music started I would be okay. I was. She opened with “Afraid of Nothing” and all the anxiety, fear, self-loathing—all of it—just washed away. I stayed for the whole concert and even walked back to the ward smiling, singing my own little encore. It was a huge step forward.

    Music therapy is encouraging and motivating for those who have physiological or psychological disorders, and provides an outlet for self-expression that works directly with therapeutic and educational planning. Music therapists often work in collaboration with occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, educators—whoever is involved in the care of the person—to discuss and create forms of treatment will be most beneficial to the person they are working with.

    It’s also helpful to people who have suffered brain damage. Research on patients recovering from neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, or from a stroke, shows that human beings have better memory of music and melodies than of faces and names. So in situations where a patient has aphasia, a condition that affects a person’s ability to speak and communicate through language, they have an easier time singing, which can help revitalize some of the lost connections that impair the language centres of the brain and redevelop speech skills.

    Music Therapy is part of a masters program here at Victoria, so I spoke to Emma Johnson, a student of the program, about her experience of music therapy and specifically the placements and field work she has undertaken. Emma described the work that she does in her placements: “I do group work with teenagers from 13 to 18. A lot of the kids are really isolated due to their condition forcing them out of the education system because they’re either too difficult for teachers to handle, or that the overwhelming stimulus in a classroom is simply too much for them. Many of them also suffer from anxiety and have a lot of difficulty making friends.”


    What are the highlights of working in the field?

    One boy who I work with has autism and has a lot of trouble coping with sound. He hasn’t been a part of a classroom setting for such a long time that noise that he doesn’t have control over, and even certain tones, gives him a huge sense of anxiety. So I made him the conductor of the group we played with—he had full control over what was being played and it’s volume so for the first time, he stayed during the whole session.

    Because of the age difference of the kids and that they all have such a variety of reasons for not being able to attend school, tastes, and backgrounds, it’s hard for them to open up to one another. Music provides a safe setting where they will suddenly find a common ground start interacting with one another socially, it’s really rewarding when you see that.

    What about one on one sessions?

    The individual sessions are dependent on the person’s mood and therapeutic plan. If they’ve had a bad day we might put on some relaxing music, and do some breathing exercises to try and encourage relaxation and lose some of that anxiety they’re experiencing—so that they can carry on with the rest of their day and interact and learn more readily. Music can act as a catalyst for our conversations, as well as being a non-verbal way of communicating; for a lot of teenagers (and people), verbally expressing how you’re doing is very difficult, even when healthy.

    Who do music therapists typically work with?

    Pretty much everyone. It’s often used for people with learning difficulties, inpatients at mental health units, the elderly under palliative care, anyone who struggles with isolation and suffers from anxiety or depression. Even for little kids going to the doctor to have an injection.

    Music therapists do some amazing work to make a measurable difference in the lives of thousands of New Zealanders every month by providing safe, constructive settings for people who struggle with their health and teach skills that help to aid rehabilitation and ease anxiety. They help people find comfort in the way they feel, gain insight and inspire creativity and the will the recover.


    If you’re thinking about studying Music Therapy contact Te Kōki New Zealand School of Music (NZSM). For more information on Music Therapy or to find a Music Therapist in your area visit


  • In defence of Pokémon GO, even though I haven’t played it

    Mobile games aren’t exactly my forte. Normally they are something I despise immensely, particularly since the major mobile storefronts are filled with micro-transaction-laden money sinks, cheap knockoffs of said money sinks, and broken ports of triple-A games. It also doesn’t help that I have a Windows Phone and can’t afford to upgrade. It is for these reasons that trends in mobile apps tend to pass me by, and for the most part I’m happy to let that continue. Yet the latest one hits awfully close to home as a gamer, and the much dreaded fear of missing out has hit me hard over the past few weeks.

    Developed by Niantic, the studio behind the mobile MMO Ingress, Pokémon GO has swept over New Zealand like a fever and it has people of all ages and abilities walking around town, catching Pokémon, and having a good time doing it—when the servers are working. Much like the original games did back in the late 90s, when your only real option for gaming on the go was a Game Boy, Pokémon GO is inspiring its players to explore their local environments and interact with other players. Several walking clubs centred on the game have sprung up, and players agree that they’re getting good exercise in general, which only adds to my FOMO as an overweight person.

    The thing is, exploration has always been associated with Pokémon. The series creator, Satoshi Tajiri, was an avid bug collector as a child and wanted the games to allow players, especially children, to have a similar feeling of catching and collecting creatures. As it turns out he also has Asperger’s syndrome like yours truly, so I’m frankly not surprised that this is the case. People with Asperger’s typically have interests that are intensely focussed, often to the detriment of their social skills, and can have difficulty understanding why few others share this dedication to their interests. Pokémon wouldn’t exist as we know it today if Tajiri hadn’t had the dedication to gaming to take apart his Famicom to try and find out how to make games, or envisioned connecting Game Boys together to trade and battle with others.

    Pokémon GO may well be the purest embodiment of Tajiri’s vision for what Pokémon can do. Technology has finally reached the point where, with the aid of a smartphone, a Pikachu can appear in the middle of Cuba Street and you can go and catch it. Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but Pokémon has been a part of my life for almost all of it, and five-year-old me would have been blown away by catching digital creatures in augmented reality had it been around earlier. He would have loved exploring the streets of Napier looking for rare Pokémon, capturing gyms, and getting points for his team. Frankly, I’m still blown away by it.

    I’ve long believed in the power of video games to encourage sociability and foster passion and creativity, and that games should be for everyone. Pokémon GO’s success is doing one thing that no slick marketing campaign or long-winded E3 press conference ever could, and that’s getting more people playing video games in a unique way. It’s why I can feel kind of sad when I sit in front of my TV and do nothing but play something like Overwatch for hours on end—sure, I’m having fun, but this isn’t something that everyone can do easily. Even though I haven’t gotten to play it yet, I will defend Pokémon GO for that reason alone.

    Just don’t spend too much on micro-transactions, okay?


  • Ghostbusters (2016): Addressing Women in Cinema

    The Ghostbusters remake, premiering in New Zealand on July 14, has been accused of being a money-grab for making the female-led cast the selling point of the film. With a star studded cast including Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, who’s to deny that these female comedy heavy-weights won’t pull a big audience?

    But for me, this film isn’t just about casting female leads in traditionally ‘male’ roles or an attempt at making more money. The point is that you’re reimagining the film in some ways—otherwise why bother making it? It’s brilliant to see a more contemporary recreation of Ghostbusters that is underpinned by some of the issues women have faced, and are still facing, in Hollywood cinema.

    The lack of female representation in cinema has become an issue that has gained traction over the past decade, due to the activism and willingness of women actresses, as well as their producers, directors, and audiences. Now we see mainstream discussions about the need for female-led superhero films (Marvel fans wanting a Black Widow film), and protests over the side-lining of female characters for the sake of a male-driven plot, not to mention the disproportionate pay-packet of male versus female leads (Gillian Anderson spoke out about this recently in regards to The X-Files). But we must also acknowledge that the so-called ‘accidental’ advances, made perhaps with profit in mind rather than representation, are just as important. And that having an all-female lead film, placing women at the forefront of a plot not driven by romance, placing them in positions of authority and in fields that are traditionally (and currently still) male-dominated, is a huge landmark in terms of Hollywood cinema.

    I would also like to point out a relevant statement that Ghostbusters director Paul Feig made in a NY Times interview: “Everything ever made in Hollywood since the beginning of time is a cash grab. That’s why the original Ghostbusters existed.” Moreover, his comments to the media have included what seems to be a genuine desire to see more gender diversity and parity in cinema, regarding it as “ridiculous” and “want[ing] it to be the new normal, where it doesn’t matter anymore.”

    At the end of the day, the representation and importance of females in cinema is still a point of contention, whereas male presence is assured. Ghostbusters was a bold move, and I can only hope that it is a funny and brilliant remake that does the original justice and incites other directors to include more female protagonists in their films.



  • #52 Films by Women

    This is not a bandwagon.

    I don’t think that men shouldn’t direct films. I don’t think they direct ‘bad’ films.

    I do think they direct most films—and I do question why.

    Last year, a blogger I follow semi-obsessively (she works for Rotten Tomatoes, okay—it’s the dream) undertook a challenge in which she watched and reviewed only films directed by women for a year. I was intrigued, impressed, and somewhat unnerved. It’s a project I wouldn’t dream of undertaking; let’s be real. Luckily for my guilt-ridden self, #52filmsbywomen came along and it’s the perfect balance of semi-challenge vs. quite literal armchair activism.

    The challenge was founded by Women in Film, a “non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equal opportunities for women, encouraging creative projects by women, and expanding and enhancing portrayals of women in all forms of global media.” The premise is incredibly basic: sign the online pledge, and proceed to watch one film directed by a woman per week for a year.

    I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining why this is a thing. You, my dear readers, understand why a challenge promoting female directors and their work is fundamentally important. You are educated about the patriarchal structures that inform our society and the arts community. You agree that ‘Hollywood’, ‘The Academy’—all those vague non-entities of the film world—function as boys’ clubs approximately 99% of the time. You know, more precisely, that a 2014 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that females comprised just 7% of directors across their sample. You believe it’s time for change.

    This challenge has the potential to be effective for a number of reasons.

    • Exposure. We need eyes on screens to consider and celebrate existing female output (especially via non-streaming mediums, but who am I to judge?).
    • Intersectionality. As much as gender itself is important, a key element here is to engage with films by women who aren’t all straight and white.
    • Awareness. Talking about the challenge, talking about the films: it creates momentum for the movement.
    • Flow-on effects. More demand for female films means more female films produced. More female films produced means more female roles in both cast and crew.

    At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity for all of us to open our eyes to more than just what Hollywood delivers. Challenge yourself to watch material crafted from a different perspective. It’s not too late to start, you’ve got a calendar year to complete. At this point only a relatively pathetic 6713 people have signed up. So really, if you join now, you’re still at the forefront of the revolution.


    Some Recommendations


    The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, 2015)

    One of the gems from last year’s NZIFF, Heller brings a bold and brassy female voice with an infusion of seventies hip.

    Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)

    Another NZIFF hit. The Virgin Suicides minus the dreamy Coppola veil and plus some added Turkish grit.

    Sedmikrásky/Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

    Part of the Nová Vina movement and initially banned by Czech authorities, Daisies comedically carouses through the innovative pranks of two young girls.

    An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion, 1990)

    New Zealand’s own, Campion tells the story of another of New Zealand’s own, the legendary fuzzy-headed Janet Frame.

    El niño pez/The Fish Child (Lucía Puenzo, 2009)

    An Argentinian love story that evocatively weaves the ins and outs of two girls divided by class.

    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2015)

    Amirpour presents a unique, slick and stylish Iranian feminist twist on a classic vampire tale.
    More information (sign-up)

    52 Films By Women (Facebook group for collective discussion)

    Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (Facebook)



  • Hera Lindsay Bird


    Author: Hera Lindsay Bird

    Publisher: Victoria University Press


    I don’t think it’s right to hate people

    It’s just that I don’t care

    To wake each day in a snakeskin negligee

    and light myself on fire with such ethical behaviours

    (from the poem, “Hate”).


    I’ll be the first to admit that poetry intimidates and confounds me. These feelings can mostly be attributed to Alfred Lord Tennyson and T. S. Eliot, the old guard of university english courses, and are largely unfair to poetry. When I was sent a copy of Wellington writer Hera Lindsay Bird’s self-titled debut, I was hesitant and a pinch of anxious, not feeling up to the task of writing about a collection of poetry.

    Thankfully, reading the poem “Monica”, which discusses Monica Gellar from Friends as well as the tenuous nature of romantic relationships, set me at ease: What kind of a name for a show was F.R.I.E.N.D.S / When two of them were related / And the rest of them just fucked for ten seasons? / Maybe their fucking was secondary to their friendship / … It just doesn’t seem emotionally realistic. Many of Bird’s poems feel like this—a conversation that you can participate in, or eavesdrop on, as you see fit.

    Bird features on the cover of the book, perched in a bright yellow raincoat on summer grass, her shadow before her. At odds with the title, we can’t see her face—her head is turned away from the camera, concealing even as she reveals. And this is a revealing book, with poems such as “Having Sex in a Field in 2013”, “Bisexuality”, and “Having Already Walked Out On Everyone I Ever Said I Loved”. Despite a modern aesthetic, Bird likes to toy with the antiquated and the fantastical, with mentions of Nostradamus, velvet birdbaths, a post-apocalyptic petting zoo, and ancient Egyptian pharaohs. It’s the kind of juxtaposition that you might be skeptical about, until you read it and it works, in a weird yet pleasing way. Like a demented nursery rhyme, perhaps.

    With her unique style and form, Bird is stirring things up in our small New Zealand literary scene and clearly enjoying herself. In “Keats is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind” poetry stalwart Bill Manhire gets a shout out: Eat my pussy from behind / Bill Manhire’s not getting any younger. It’s subversive, wry, and more than a little bit vulgar—in short, the things that make modern poetry fresh and exciting. Hera Lindsay Bird clearly marks Hera Lindsay Bird as one to watch closely.


    An interview with Hera Lindsay Bird


    What was your process for writing Hera Lindsay Bird?

    Most of the poetry in this book is a disparate collection of things I’ve been working on over the last four years. It wasn’t written with a collection in mind, although Victoria University Press had expressed interest in publishing my MA thesis. It took me about four years to write twenty poems. It took me four years to have enough happen to me.

    Where does your love for ellipses come from?

    They came from my favourite poet, Chelsey Minnis! Her first book Zirconia is almost all ellipses. I stole them from her and I can’t think without them now. I’m always trailing off vacantly at the end of all my sentences, and her book gave me permission to emulate that on the page. I love extravagant and useless punctuation. Besides, there are some sentences better left unfinished…

    Who are the authors or poets who have made the biggest impression on you?

    Poets Chelsey Minnis, Mark Leidner, Dorothea Lasky, and Frank O’Hara have been most important for this particular book, but Shirley Jackson, P. G.Wodehouse, George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, J.D Salinger, and Tove Jansson have been huge influences too. I read primarily for jokes and the occasional murder on a train, but I don’t think my love of Agatha Christie is very present in my poetry.

    As it’s the women’s issue, who are some women authors or poets that everyone should read?

    Everyone mentioned above, but I would also add Fran Ross, Fran Lebowitz, Patricia Highsmith, Sheila Heti, Louise Fitzhugh, Nancy Mitford, Muriel Spark, Mallory Ortberg, and Mary Ruefle. I don’t think everyone should read them though. I don’t think anyone should read anything. I don’t want to be another used car salesman for the arts. If you like TV better, good for you.

    Favourite thing about being a poet in New Zealand?

    Sometimes Vincent O’Sullivan lets me use his private golf course on the weekends.

    Least favourite thing about being a poet in New Zealand?

    He makes me carry his clubs around.

    When can we expect Hera Lindsay Bird—The Sequel?

    2 Hera 2 Bird is coming out late next year, and I’ve already started work on Hera Lindsay Bird: Tokyo Drift.

    I have no idea if there will be another poetry collection. At this stage I have no idea what another collection would even look like. I’d like to write a detective series set in a nursing home, or maybe just get really into unsolved mysteries of the ancient world. I don’t want to make a career out of all my bad feelings. I don’t get paid enough for that.



  • 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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