Category Archives: art + design

DocEdge 19 | War of Art

Norway | 2018 | 102 min | English | Tommy Gulliksen

First off, I must emphasise how much I enjoyed War of Art – if you have any interest or curiosity of politics and modern art and how they meet in North Korea, this is for you.

Norwegian director and artist Morten Traavik began collaborating with the regime in 2011 with the aim of introducing the concept of modern art in what would seem an indoctrinated and fascist society, wit the ultimate hope of opening the channels of communication through creative practices.

Traavik brings a group of artists hailing from a range of disciplines, nationalities and backgrounds – all with varied reasons for participating. Some out of genuine curiosity, and others with the desire to stir the proverbial pot. Morten Traavik states in conversation with one of the artists during the film that he loves the clash of cultures they’re experiencing, finds it beautiful. This eventually develops into visible frustration as he and the team of creatives he’s assembled face barrier after barrier.

Due to heavy isolation from the west since the late 40’s, North Korea is still considered an enigma to us on the outside, which heavily fuels the popularity of film such as this. War of Art at it’s roots is a film attempting to document North Korea and it’s politics, rather than the aforementioned artists collaborative project, and really is  fascinating.

Screenings: Auckland 2 June, 10.15AM & 5 June 2.15PM at the Q Theatre; 6 June, 12.30PM at Auckland Art Gallery, and Wellington 16 June, 10.30AM & 19 June, 2.30PM at The Roxy


The 14th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 30 May – 9 June and Wellington 13 – 23 June –

AWA18 | 5 mins with Fatina Chan

Formed by the existing fixing points along Upper Vulcan Lane, ‘Lane Wave’ delineates the invisible dynamic verticality of the laneway, introducing vitality, boldness and sense of scale.

This temporary installation offers a spectacular to slow down or pause; as well as a viewing lens to re-evaluate and rethink our relationships with the city.  We caught up with Fatina Chan to find out more.

Describe your piece of work/installation in three words
Bold |Dynamic | Incongruous

What inspired it?
From the very beginning we knew Upper Vulcan Lane would be our preferred site. We like its existing vibes and the connectivity that it is offering to the public. The inspiration came from the laneway itself, its intimate scale, verticality, materiality and the pedestrian movement. We came up with the idea of injecting an intervention that is bold, but soft and dynamic with-in the laneway, something that is unexpected and contrasts to the surrounding.

What’s your creative process?
The creative process of this project is slightly to my own personal creative process. It is collaborative work, and I am working with Zee Shake Lee (link) who has experiences in public-art/installations.

We started with questioning of the ‘big picture’ of what we want to achieve, how we want the public to perceive and sense it, and what kind of experience or memory we would like to offer to the public. Then we went away to brainstorm individually, followed by multiple discussions around our ideas and thoughts. We discussed, discussed, and discussed and came to an idea which we both agreed on.

What do you think of the Art scene in Auckland? New Zealand?
The art scene in Auckland New Zealand to my mind is very inclusive nationally, providing good platforms to local artists. I would like to see more international exhibitions in New Zealand/Auckland in the future.

Are there any artists/pieces of work that you’re looking forward to seeing this year?
Portrait without a Face in FOX JENSEN McCRORY.
The Bubble Illusion by Rebecca Heap.
The Suffrage of COVEN by Coven Collective.

What is your social media of choice?

Who do you follow and where?
Ben Young
Mikael Christian Strøbek
Christo and Jeanne-Claude

What are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist right now?
Mediation | Sophie Meiers
Ain’t Callin’ Me Baby | vbnd
#0000FF | Jasmine Sokko

Word Association:
Auckland – Hilly
Art – Expression
Festival – People
Creative – Doubt
Collaboration – Fun
Summer – Sea

Fatina Chan is one of the creators of Lane Waves for Changing Lanes, as part of Artweek Auckland 6 – 14 October.

AWA18 | 5 mins with Tipare

Artist, Tīpare examines citizenship from a wahine Māori perspective through her multimedia exhibit at Mangere Arts Centre. Her work explores protest movements, the #metoo phenomenon, matrimonial land ownership and dual citizenship.

Describe your piece of work/installation in three words

uwha, fierce, complicated

What inspired it?
Every female I’ve ever known.

What’s your creative process?
I’m a multimedia artist. I let whatever the intention of the piece is to decide what media will speak its purpose best. I don’t have any fixed way of approaching art, I literally get a million things running through my mind about a subject, take their attached emotions and try to create something simple with a lot of layers you might feel but not know why.

What do you think of the Art scene in Auckland? New Zealand?
I love coming home to NZ after being oversees. The art we have here is world class and it’s unique. NZ gives space now for every facet of society to have a voice, and on top of that, the execution of these works is as competitive and differentiating as you’d find internationally. Māori artists are reaching and expressing way beyond any paradigm ever set and are delivering truly incredible works that would make our tūpuna proud while also just shaking you as a human being.

Are there any artists/pieces of work that you’re looking forward to seeing this year?
Frank Oceans new album

What is your social media of choice?

Who do you follow and where?
Willie Verse, Solange, Erykah Badu – all on Insta

What are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist right now?
Nina Simone -‘Since I fell for you’
Travis Scott ‘Sicko mode’
Prince ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’

Word Association:
Auckland – 1000 lovers
Art – #
Festival – overwhelming
Creative – life
Collaboration – trust
Summer – vitamin D

See Tīpare’s exhibition Uwha 13 October – 17 November at Mangere Arts Centre, as part of Artweek Auckland 6 – 14 October

AWA18 | 5 mins with Sam Mitchell

Commemorating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, Sam Mitchell’s new series of works depicts influential female figures.

Describe your piece of work/installation in three words
Women, Creatives, Hommage

What inspired it?
125 years of Suffrage in New Zealand

What’s your creative process?
Acrylic painted in reverse on Perspex, I am dyslexic so painting backwards is an easy process.

What do you think of the Art scene in Auckland?
Vibrant New Zealand, Blossoming

Are there any artists/pieces of work that you’re looking forward to seeing this year?
ARTWEEK 2018 is packed full of events that I am looking forward to hard to pick just one… It gives me a chance to get around to all the Galleries both Public and dealer to see a varied array of amazing art.

What is your social media of choice?
Instagram. @brownbacon I post most new work on this

Who do you follow and where?
Grayson Perry, Mary Beard, Wayne Youle, Gavin Hurley, Imogen Tayor, Kirstin Carlin all on Instagram

What are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist right now?
DAVID BOWIE – Moonage DayDream,
David Bowie -Win
Apex Twin- We are the music makers

Word Association:

See Sam Mitchell’s exhibition Fight Like a Girl until 6 October at Melanie Roger Gallery, as part of Artweek Auckland 6 – 14 October.

been | World Press Photo Exhibition 2018

The World Press Photo Exhibition is currently showing in Auckland’s CBD, and travelling curator Yi Wen Hsia has accompanied this very special collection of photography. The exhibit has a running theme encapsulating current political, social and socio-economic commentary, and is quite fearless in it’s mission. Simultaneously it feels like a very intimate collection, and all the works communicate together in unity and harmony, intensifying the effect.
A large portion of the work on display touches on some very real, confronting subject matter. Simultaneously, you’ll find yourself walking through the exhibit in awe, much of it captivating and beautiful in it’s simplicity.
I’d highly recommend taking up the opportunity to see this exhibition in person while it’s still here in Auckland – it’s a worthwhile event, which will likely leave the viewer a changed person.
Smith & Caughey’s Building
Level 6, 253-261 Queen Street
 30 June – 29 July 2018
 $15 Weekdays/ $20 Weekends; $10 students with valid ID
Mon – Wed     9.30am – 6.30pm
Thur – Fri        9.30am – 9.00pm
Sat                    10.00am – 6.00pm
Sun                   10.30am – 5.30pm
Rotary Club of Auckland are proudly bringing this fantastic exhibition to Auckland. All profits
going towards their supported charities. 

Doc Edge 18 | Whispering Truth To Power

South Africa, Netherlands | 2018 | 88 min | English, Sotho, Zulu | Shameela Seedat

“Whispering truth to Power”.  Never a truer word uttered and straight from the film’s main protagonist’s mouth – Thuli Mandosela.  South Africa’s first female Public Protector and direct opposer to the deception and inequity that ran rife within the country’s ruling and democratically elected power under the Zuma administration.

Shameela Seedat (filmmaker and human rights lawyer) produces and directs this film, as she follows Thuli throughout her tenure as ‘Protector of the Public’.  Beginning with initial investigations during her earlier days in office, as she leads a case into alleged corruption, involving President Zuma and a questionably large sum of state funds (246 million Rand to be precise) used in security upgrades to his home in Nkandla, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

His definitively unapologetic and vitriolic response to these allegations, clearly demonstrated the lack of justice that is still prevalent in South Africa,  even decades after apartheid.

The documentary traces back to the Mandela years and the subsequent release of political prisoners in 1990.  Of which Thuli Mandosela had been an active underground member, before they became the ruling party in 1994.  Following thus, her 7 year term in 2004.

It also references the disenfranchised town of Bapong – North West South Africa, and the millions that they stood to gain in mining rights after 1994, but yet to experience any direct benefit into their community, from these supposedly vast profits.

“Corruption derails efforts to improve the quality of life for everyone”  (Thuli Mandosela).

An extremely articulate, well-educated and softy spoken woman,  yet with an innate power within.  Thuli Mandosela proves she is not a person to back down, even when those in power try to denounce the honesty and transparency of her findings.  Case in point; when President Jacob Zuma, with his air of invincibility along with his supporters, try to derail her work.  Using suggestions of association with the ‘White Monopoly Capital” in attempt to deflect the focus from his own scandalous business associations

Thuli is dedicated to her career and to her calling, in a country where the basic needs of it’s people are barely met; food, housing and education.  Accountability is pivotal to her position and the respect that she coincidentally gains is evident, when towards the end of her term, there is a fear among it’s less fortunate citizens, that their personal plight/cases will not be fairly heard without her representation.  Considering the strained history of this country and the continuing social and racial prejudice, theirs is an anxiety that one can vehemently understand.

‘Whispering Truth To Power’  also provides us with a glimpse into her family life; and her children Wantu and Wenzile.  Allowing them to describe their own perception of their mother and the incredible media interest that she holds to the public, as well as how  that impacts them personally.   It also touches on Thuli’s own self-image as a youth and her somewhat blighted perception, to how she perceives herself now …

Moments of humour are felt when her son Wantu and friend laughingly joke about his mother’s soft demeanor and loll voice, the film then also delves into her own daughter’s interest in politics and her opinions regarding this.  A subject very relevant to the foundations of this film, as it outlines the racial conflict still prevalent in universities today in South Africa, regarding inequality and the right to free education for it’s people.

The film then leads us into the final days of Mandosela’s term as ‘Protector of the Public’.  The highly anticipated and publicized release of her ‘Legacy Report’ (also know as the ‘State of Capture’ report).  Emotions are high, as is the social and political unrest of the country.

Those who are abreast of the political status of South Africa, will be aware that this report led to the inexorable resignation of President Jacob Zuma.  Yet the film is necessary to understand the absence of morality in many of our political constitutions today, and the importance of women in power, like Mandosela, in exposing the criminal activity within a corrupt parliament, and in turn bringing justice back to it’s country’s people without violence and without threat.

“Corruption is a cancer that erodes everything that is good”. (Thuli Mandosela).

***4 Stars!

‘Whispering Truth To Power’ –  is showing at the following times in Auckland as part of the Doc Edge Festival 2018:

Loft / Sat 26 May, 9:30PM
Rangatira / Sun 27 May, 9:45AM



interviewed | multi-talented Director Leo Gene Peters

Santa Claus is coming to town, literally. Santa Claus is the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual Christmas show, and it’s coming to Auckland from Thursday 30th November to Wednesday 20th December. The show is directed by Leo Gene Peters, director of the award winning independent theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog. Over the last few years, A Slightly Isolated Dog has been exploring how to make a theatre experience truly alive, by removing all barriers between the audience and performers, and this will be evident in Santa Claus.

The annual Christmas show will include the usual host of secret celebrity guests. Team this with Leo Gene Peters’ raucous, sexy, signature style, and this is a show not to be missed.

I chat to Leo, who has worked as a professional director, designer, technician, actor, tutor, facilitator and mentor, to find out more about the show, his career and how he likes to celebrate.

Q: From your point of view, what is the Christmas show Santa Claus about?

A: The show is a celebration of our ridiculous lives, especially the way we build up expectations around Christmas (and our lives in general) and how the real events rarely ever live up to our expectations… it’s a party that celebrates the childhood magic and the adult disappointment of Christmas… it’s a chaotic romp through the Christmas fantasy into the Christmas nightmare.

Q: Should the audience be worried if they haven’t been good this year?

A: No… well, I mean judgement is coming, Santa sees all. He knows when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake and he’s definitely coming… but I wouldn’t worry about it…

Q: Tell us a little more about the cast of the show…

A: They’re a great group of performers, really charming and very sexy and very funny… and very French.

Q: How have you explored removing barriers between the audience and performers for this Christmas show?

A: We tell the story with you, so the audience is always a part of what we do… we like there to be no barriers. Even with that, some people just watch the shows, some people play with us a bit… we do our best to make sure everyone has the best possible time. We want you to do what you want and have a great time out.

Q: Can you tell us more about using transformational venue experiences, integration of popular culture and interactivity? Are you doing this again for Santa Claus?

A: We love to play make-believe, then create something together and all buy into a story and tell it together in an exciting and entertaining way. This is something that is inherently in us as human beings, it’s why all the storytelling forms exist, we need to dream and exercise our imaginations. We like to play the way we did when we were kids, to make magic happen by turning one place or object into another. There are very few places for us to do this together and we believe the theatre is a crucial place for this to happen.

Q: What has been a key highlight (so far) in creating and directing the show?

A: We spend a lot of time making each other laugh at ridiculous offers for the show… but I’m enjoying most all the stories of our family Christmases that we’ve been telling/hearing in the making process. It’s such a lovely process to reflect in this way and see other people’s experiences of Christmas, whether they’re good or bad, whether they like it or hate… we celebrate them all.

Q: What do you want the audience to feel/experience/get from the show?

A: A great night out that is different from any other great night out… we want people to come and feel sexy and laugh and have a party that celebrates our ridiculous lives.

Q: What would be your best piece of advice to give to the audience before they attend the show?

A: Meet up with friends, have a meal and some drinks, chat about your Christmas plans with them, tell stories to each other… and come to the theatre expecting to have a great time. We will do everything in our power to make you look as good as possible and to have a great time.

Q: How will you celebrate once the show has finished?

A: Probably Christmas with close friends (surrogate family). A lot of food and a lot of drinks. Once the show opens we may have a few drinks as well…

Q: How does Santa Claus compare to previous shows you have done with your theatre company?

A: It’s delightful to be partnering with Basement to create it – we love working in Auckland and especially with Basement. They’ve created a great energy and community in the venue. The show itself is similar in a lot of ways, but very much its own beast… it’s been different to plays with such well known mythology and cultural events that so many people have a strong relationship to.

Q: What do you have planned for A Slightly Isolated Dog, after the huge Santa Clause show? Will you have a break or are you straight back into planning for another project?

A: We’re always planning for upcoming projects… but we’ll have a bit of a break for the holidays for sure. We’ve got a project coming up for CubaDupa in Wellington that we’re really excited about, as well as a national tour of Jekyll & Hyde. And there are a number of other projects in development.

Q: You have worked in many areas – directing, designing, acting, tutoring, mentoring and much more. How do you manage your time? Does the workload ever get too stressful? How do you like to unwind?

A: I try to make sure there is enough time to work through all the projects that I’ve got going at once, but sometimes I just work a lot of hours to get everything done… other times it feels like I do very little… The workload can be stressful, I try to keep up good practices in my life… I try to meditate, I run quite a bit and I’ve been doing Wing Tsun Kung Fu for a number of years as well. And I also enjoy drinking, which is useful…

Q: If you had to choose just one of the above professions to do full time for the rest of your life (you couldn’t do anything else), which would it be and why?

A: I’d direct/create new theatre… It’s a place for us to come together and share our loneliness. To celebrate all the ridiculous and beautiful things about life – to build community through reflection and imagination. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. It’s amazing to be with a thriving audience in that way.

Q: Random question – what is your favourite food if you had to choose one item or dish?

A: Tricky… Cochinita Pibil.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for the aspiring directors out there?

A: Question the purpose of what you want to make. I think it should be for a bigger reason then wanting people to tell us that we’re good. What are you trying to create in the community? Why should we come together for some event that you want to make? These questions seem crucial, but I don’t think they’re often really examined.

The Basement Christmas Show has evolved from a low-key fundraiser, to one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings. The show sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.