Aug 16, 2022 Metro Arts
Hope you’re having a great week so far. Mine is looking set to be the perfect mix of chaos because of course it is my last week at Metro, and emigration is hard. Because of that, the main theme of today’s Metro Arts is gratitude — I really want to say a huge thank you to the artists and arts organisations for creating the amazing work to sustain Metro Arts and its readers. It’s always such a privilege to be able to write about the amazing work happening across the city. But luckily for me and the Metro Arts readers, our weekly arts reading needs will be well looked over by our incoming arts editor (see below). Of course I have to thank you all, the (unexpected to me) readers of Metro Arts who continue to open the weekly emails. It’s been an absolute luxury to write for an audience, and more often than not actually have you write back to me. It would be amiss of me to not also publicly acknowledge Simon, Henry and Jean, who unfortunately for them have had to spend a lot of hours with me in the office, and have never complained once. Kudos to them! I am already mourning our office chats, class trips and lunch dates. Lastly, a huge thank you to Creative NZ who made this possible.
But I know you want me to hurry up and tell you who the next Metro arts editor is (if you haven’t scrolled down already), but before I do I just want to say that I’m really looking forward to our next issue which will be in stores next month. While I won’t tease too much now, I will say that I have tried to get to the bottom of our no criticism critical culture of the moment (and spoiler alert it includes Love Island and Foucault — match made in heaven!).
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Introducing our new Metro Arts Editor!
The exciting side of my Metro departure of course is being able to welcome in a new arts editor, and so it is an absolute pleasure to be able to introduce to you all incoming arts editor, Tendai Mutambu. Tendai is a writer, editor, and curator with an interest in artists’ film and video. As one of CIRCUIT Artist Moving Image’s curators-at-large he developed Otherwise-image-worlds, an exhibition at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery on animation in artists’ practices. He is also an associate producer for UK-based artist Aura Satz’s first feature length film, Preemptive Listening. Tendai was, until recently, a contributing editor for The Art Paper, a graduate mentor at Hospitalfield, Scotland, and a curator at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary, New Zealand. Previously he was the inaugural Commissioning Editor at Art Now Essays, and before then Assistant Curator of Commissions and Public Programmes at Spike Island in Bristol, UK.
In anticipation of his arrival, Tendai graciously answered a few questions for us! I have to say, I’m excited to see what he’ll do in the Metro Arts chair!
How are you feeling about coming to Metro and what can readers expect?
I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Metro. I’ve been reading the mag religiously since its return (your and Jean’s newsletters have been staples in my household). I’m looking forward to continuing a lot of the stellar work you’ve been doing, Lana. You’ll be sorely missed but we’re all excited to see you do your thing Stateside. (I’m sorry to Metro‘s readership: you got rid of one wayward millennial Aquarian editor but landed another!)
What can readers expect? I’m keen to promote early career talents and reappraise some household names. And because I’m a little messy, there’ll be a takedown or two of the undeservingly praised, our sometimes corrupt little cultural sphere, and those who are its main beneficiaries.
What artwork is top of mind at the moment? For better or worse.
Ming Ranginui’s ‘Angel numbers on the dash’ (2022) in Matarau, curated by Shannon te Ao at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi!
Imagine, in a dimly lit gallery, a small Daihatsu reupholstered in ruched and frilly purple satin, white fur lining, bedecked with diamantes. Inside the car is a large chandelier and outside a curlicue pattern with a little hood ornament atop the bonnet, like on a luxury car. The vehicle’s underside is lit with a lurid neon and the whole thing is giving homespun, DIY luxe.
The work is a triumph in seducing the senses to draw us in closer to its ideas: reflections on the artist’s own transience while making the work and the uncertainties and precariousness that came with that experience. The work is given added resonance for tangata whenua, who disproportionately make up a large number of unhoused people on their own land as pointed out by artist, poet and writer Hana Pera Aoake in a recent interview with Ming for The Art Paper.
In that same interview, Ming described the shade of purple she used as “cosmic” and it reminded me of how the words cosmos and cosmetic have a related derivation from the Greek kosmos. And how there’s a strong tradition of dismissing ornament in western thought: from Plato to Adolf Loos’ infamous essay ‘Ornament and Crime‘ (1913) to the more recent maligning of craft.
Like several other young Black and Indigenous artists — Sione Monu (NZ) and Deana Lawson (US) among them — Ming knows how to play with the vernacular, the stuff of a working class childhood, the materials that lined the homes of our suburban and small town friends and families, to make work that’s as sumptuous as it is politicised.
What do you do for fun?
I watch a fair bit of film and television. After NZIFF, I leapt back into television: HBO’s prestige drama Industry and the local docuseries Still Here. Television’s looking really promising at the moment.
I also enjoy coaxing friends into little reading groups and film clubs here and there.
There are so many things happening at the moment that I recommend heading along too. I went to the Royal New Zealand Ballet opening night of Cinderella last week, and I will not pretend to know much about it, but like the orchestra the week before I loved experiencing something new. The storyline had received a bit of a massage to bring it into 2022, and the audience audibly laughed (and gasped) in parts which I guess is a good sign. I would absolutely head along to another RNZB show if I had the chance and you should too.
I recommend heading along to Pacifica the Musical opening this week at The Civic. The production is an original, large-scale production featuring a catalogue of the biggest Kiwi pop songs ever. The production has been 20 years in the making and includes the likes of Hinewehi Mohi, Annie Crummer, Sola Rosa, Che Fu, Anika Moa, Hollie Smith, King Kapisi, Nesian Mystik, Brooke Fraser, P-Money, Stan Walker and Six60.
Also opening this week is Dawn Raids, a co-production between Pacific Underground and Auckland Theatre Company. The play was written by Oscar Kightley 25 years ago, and is returning to the stage, and I can not wait. The thing with theatre is you really have one chance to see it. Don’t be that person who misses out.
Finally, the Auckland Writers Festival starts in less than 10 days. I’m speaking at two events which are my very last things here in Tāmaki Makaurau. I’ll be speaking with Coco Solid on Friday the 26th, about our two pukapuka How to Loiter in a Turf War and Bloody Woman. We’ll both be chairs and panellists simultaneously which I think will be cute. There’s always some golden nuggets when Coco Solid is involved and I’m ready for them. Then on the Sunday I will be chairing Black Forest — Poets of the Pacific a conversation on all things poetry with Tusiata Avia and spoken word artists Aigagalefili Fepulea’i Tapua’i and Zech Soakai. Come hang out!
Auckland Theatre Company
16 August — 3 September
Pacifica The Musical
19 August — 28 August
Auckland Writers Festival
23 August — 28 August
Design Lives HERE
25 August, 6pm $30
Te Moana Meridian Conference
Artspace Aotearoa/ AUT
Te Moana Meridian
29 August — 29 October
Auckland Fringe Festival 2022
30 August — 17 September
1 September — 8 September
Auckland Live Cabaret Season
14 September — 25 September