Pacific Stories has been postponed due to legitimate technical difficulties – I kid you not! Last week I posted briefly about the acquisition of Pacific Stories by NITV. The short films were to be aired tonight circa 10pm, however, due to last minute technical difficulties with the master material for the series, NITV have had to postpone until they can get replacement material. Oy vey. So, if you were planning to watch that, you can watch the below random selection of short films instead.
The first is called 2 Fresh 2 Furious. If you are anything like me, you will be familiar with NPR show ‘Fresh Air’ and it’s long time low key host Terry Gross. And, if you are anything like me, you would love to know what Ms Gross looks like, and how she spends her day. Well, fellow freaks – wonder no more! Comedian Mike Birbiglia made this film a couple of years ago to reveal just that.
The second film is one I posted here back in 2011. How to be alone is a film beautifully shot, edited and hand animated by Andrea Dorfman. I think it is sweet.
This next short film, Jorge (in two clips below) was made in 1998, written and directed by Joel Hopkins. It stars Tunde Adepimbe, who I do not like, before he co-founded band TV On The Radio, who I previously liked. I have a lot of sympathy for the shy & quiet types of this world, so I like this film, about a shy man named Jorge, and his stifled connection with a lovely, non-shy coworker. I first saw it on a program called Eat Carpet that was on SBS, really late at night, back when I was in high school. I was loaded up on medication after one of my frequent episodes of illness, depressed, pretty drowsy… but Tunde’s beautiful face and this tortured character ‘Jorge’ absolutely captured my attention. And warmed my heart.
I remember loving the quietness of it, and noticing how that accentuated the character – Jorge is the type of guy who would be totally overwhelmed by too much sensory information. Really dig the black and white, too (obviously looks better in HD rather than a degraded YouTube clip, but you get the idea).
This next clip (cut into 4 parts) isn’t a short film, but a program about a filmmaker I like … and it is hilarious, even if you know nothing about the filmmaker (if you have the same sense of humour. If not, you will likely think me stranger than you already do, and I apologise in advance). Aki Kaurismäki is a Finnish screenwriter/director. Watch as he is interviewed by a very young Jonathan Ross, at one point while Ross is sitting on a bicycle (for some reason).
And now, back to the warm Pacific! In 2012, a group of young people from Honiara, Solomon Islands came together to attend filmmaking workshops led by filmmakers Amie Batalibasi (AUS/SOLOMON IS) & Lisa Hilli (AUS/PNG) and produced by Adriel Tahisi (HON) and Samantha Cooper (AUS). They wrote, directed and filmed the short narrative film called Wea Nao Mi? (Where Am I?). This film was premiered at the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Back in 2011, I wrote HERE about the premier of a film project I was fortunate to be a part of called Pacific Stories. Produced by Amie Batalibasi and Lia Pa’apa’a, auspiced by Multicultural Arts Victoria and funded by the Australian Council for the Arts, 8 filmmakers with varying levels of experience made short films exploring our experiences of identity as (mostly) Melanesian Pacific Islanders in Melbourne. Personally, it was a very important learning experience. Before the DVD compilation received a G-classification last year, I wrote HERE about clearing the last copies of the unclassified DVD.
Now, the Pacific Stories films are going to be screened on NITV, at 10:15 pm on Monday the 13th of May, 2013. They will then be on rotation over the next 3 years. Huge THANKYOU to the work of Amie and Lia. They conceived and drove this project, and I will be eternally grateful to them for that.
We are all so pleased! NITV programming is absolutely fantastic, it is national, and the network only screens 5% non-Indigenous Australian content – so it is a privilege to be included.
Here is some more official info on Pacific Stories:
Eight Australian Pacific Islanders share their stories about the challenges of negotiating Islander culture, language and identity in an Australian context. With cultural backgrounds from across the pacific (and the Torres Strait), these filmmakers explore the struggle to keep family connections strong, stories from the spiritual world, celebrate Oceanic art, and contemplate the meaning of age old traditional practices in our contemporary world.
Australian/ Solomon Islander documentary filmmaker Amie Batalibasi and Samoan/ Native American Community Arts practitioner Lia Pa’apa’a facilitated the project over 7 month period and produced all eight short films.
Representatives from the islands of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the Torres Strait Islands participated in the project and were involved in discussions around issues facing Australian Pacific Islanders and also filmmaking workshops – to create scripts for their own short films. The series of films that were created are of an extremely high caliber.
One film, entitled “Kome Kalana – My Bubu ” is about Warrie Kome, a young Papua New Guinean man who grew up in a small village on the central coast of PNG. It is a very personal portrayal of his Bubu’s story and how it’s connected to his story. Kome Kalana is an honest and raw narrative about his grandmother and how her unique culture shaped him and allowed him the freedom to discover and to be the man that his is today – now creating his own culture and identity living in Australia. Paia Juste-Constant (Motu Kekeni/Papua New Guinean/ Australian) wrote and directed the film called Reva Reva. She says, “Reva Reva” speaks of my connection to my grandmothers and their full body tattoos. This beautiful canvas is far greater than a staining of the skin, more than a pattern of ink”. Other films written and directed by Ranu James, Leilani Gibson, John Harvey, Pauline Vetuna, Lisa Hilli & Venina Kaloumaira are also a part of the series.
The films as a series of works allows the viewers to get a better understanding of the complexity of Pacific urban identity and what it means growing up in Australia. Pacific Stories takes the viewer on a journey through the Pacific through the eyes of it’s children, who growing up in the urban metropolis of Melbourne, Australia have to negotiate their identity and culture away from their homelands
The films will premiere on NITV at 10:15pm on 13 May 2013.
Alright. Time for me to get it together and finish some scripts, I reckon…
In the post ‘Girl Enlightened’, I mentioned I was about to watch the second seasons of the HBO shows Girls and Enlightened (at one point they were paired on the HBO schedule, so fitting I should watch them together). Having since watched both those seasons, over two posts this week I will discuss them – starting with Girls (I’m writing relentlessly and dealing with an anxiety issue at the moment, so I find thinking about characters, stories, and story worlds rather helpful to the process).
Whilst I only liked the first season of this show, I loved the second season, impressed at how many issues and themes it manages to explore in 10 episodes – issues that resonated really strongly. Season 2 of Girls is generally darker, which is appropriate as these characters age. It is funnier, which is never a bad thing (often it’s tiny throwaway lines buried in monologues that crack me up – Adam in A.A., mentioning how he showed Hannah how to use soap, for example. I choked on my Milo whilst watching that).
And, as is the case with second seasons, we get to know all the characters more intimately. Their flaws are as terrible and real as ever (written by someone I think genuinely loves these characters, flaws and all) and I like that – season 2 depicts with clarity the difficulty of personal change and growth in individuals and relationships. We see characters repeating mistakes and regressing, which is true to life for most – if not all – of us. But I’m not going to recap everything that happened in the season.
Instead, below are some things that got under my skin, positively and negatively, that the writers deserve major props for – seriously inspiring. This season did what the first one didn’t – it both moved me and made me reflect on my history of relationships in a deep way. I connected to every single character. And I always appreciate when a story does more than just entertain or distract me from the business of living. The greatest stories always do.
MARNIE: IMAGE IS EVERYTHING.
There are things that I really like about Marnie – she won me over back in the season one finale, as she started to loosen up and took the high road with Elijah and Charlie (classy). But one thing that really gets under my skin negatively is Marnie’s attraction to glamour, glaringly apparent and desperate this season. Marnie lost interest in Charlie for a number of reasons, but a minor one was that he didn’t match the image of what a “Man” should be in her messed up mind (whereas Booth Jonathan, inexplicably, did). Season one introduced us to this particular flaw – remember when she told then boyfriend Charlie that he should be able to “go about his business, piss me off and not give a fuck! It’s what men do.”
In season 2, Marnie’s masturbation fantasy comes true when she starts having (spectacularly funny) sex with the “brilliant” artist Booth, assuming thereafter that she is his girlfriend. This is soon followed by crushing humiliation, when she discovers Booth does not consider her to be his girlfriend at all, merely an employee. The Booth storyline is seriously inspired – it tells us so much about both the characters in only a handful of interactions. And, as big an asshole as he was, Booth Jonathan was completely right about Marnie’s insincere attraction to him – she liked his image and lifestyle, not him as a person. Even she admitted that she fell in love with “the idea of you”.
Marnie’s re-attraction to Charlie only after her discovery of his winning success is thus all the more nauseating to me. I felt bad for her after she lost her job at the gallery (although Ray’s quip to her that “I think the world has the 3 curators it actually needs” made me chortle – and I’ve been a curator!). I loved her attempt to view her hostess job in the best possible light, and accept that humbling experience with as much grace and positivity as possible – Marnie’s best qualities, I think. If the singing thing doesn’t work out this girl should be working in public relations. But her re-emergence in Charlie’s world – setting aside their important history and his feelings for her – is just terrible.
It reminded me of the big fight Marnie had with Hannah at the end of the first season, when equally flawed Hannah said to her, “What do you want besides like a boyfriend with a luxury rental? Seriously, that’s where your priorities are. You have always been this way, and now it is worse”. Marnie may actually love Charlie – her realisation/confession after brunch was sincere, no doubt. But her motivation for reconnecting to begin with was tainted. I can’t imagine where their relationship is going to go in Season 3, but, given that Christopher Abbott (the actor who plays Charlie) has fled the show, it can’t be good (side note: Abbott guest starred in Season 2 of Enlightened. Playing a cocaine enthusiast! See my next ‘Girl Enlightened’ post for more on that).
SHOSHANNA AND RAY: THE ODD COUPLE.
Shoshanna’s relationship with Ray enabled me to empathise with her (and Ray) as a character a lot more, given the scenario of older partner/cynical partner is very familiar to a younger version of me (as familiar as the dynamic between Hannah and Adam in season 1). The words she used to break up with Ray would have hurt him tremendously, and that was horrible to watch. Yet those same words speak to a level of self-awareness on Shoshanna’s part that I wish I had had earlier: “I can’t be surrounded by your negativity while I’m trying to grow into a fully formed human.” Weird to hear a character articulate that, but she’s absolutely right. Shosh is the youngest, just as flawed as the other girls (see cheating with the sexy doorman incident). But her breaking up with Ray is more of an initiation into adulthood than the relatively insignificant act of losing her virginity.
Maybe some of her complaints about Ray are superficial (not wanting to spend $4 on a taco is not a deal-breaker, yo). However, feeling emotionally and mentally drained with someone certainly is. Shoshanna’s learning where her boundaries are. For that reason, I loved this storyline. I’ve read a couple of comments that praise Ray for being such a great boyfriend (written by 30-yr-old + men I noted, unsurprised), and she certainly brings out his often-suppressed better nature. But, he is not a good match for Shosh, and he really does have issues. Ray is negative about everything (often in a very funny way, but that energy would suck to live with 24/7). He is rude to everyone including his supposed best friend Charlie – because deep down he is insecure, hates himself, and feels like a loser (see end of great episode “Boys” – written by Murray Miller).
In response to Shoshanna’s break up speech, in which she says she can no longer handle his “black soul” (ouch), Ray attacks her back and exclaims there is a “difference between negativity and critical thinking!”. But I don’t think that Ray actually knows what that difference is. Despite being 33, and intellectually sophisticated (at least, by his own estimation), he is one of the least self-aware characters in the show. And Adam called him out correctly during their fight on Staten Island: “You don’t know shit about love!”, he tells Ray. And how could he? Ray doesn’t even love himself.
(Funny too how Adam also says to Ray, “You’re just babies holding hands!” – given that when Shoshanna partially confesses about the doorman incident, she says she held the doorman’s hand. Ray feels safe with her because he sees her as innocent and inexperienced. I wonder if he could actually handle being with a complicated, sophisticated woman of his own age. One as hypercritical as he is).
HANNAH: WRITER’S BLOCK, MENTAL ILLNESS, & THE NATURE OF LOVE.
Oh my gawd, Hannah. I grew to love her in season 2 – that is in stark contrast to season 1, in which I found her infuriating. I laughed a lot at her this time, but of course she has more seriously ugly moments – her treatment of recovering junkie Laird (probably the kindest soul in this particular TV universe) was grossly inconsiderate, and although it had to be done (given how toxic things had become between them) the way she ended things with Adam was a mess. She even managed to make me side 100% with a Republican (her short-lived boyfriend at the beginning of the season, Sandy). Hannah turned on Sandy because he disliked her writing, but cites his politics as the problem – even though she really didn’t give a shit until he criticised her essay!
That being said, Hannah is more vulnerable in season 2. This vulnerability is exposed after Jessa goes AWOL – Hannah’s mental illness issues and her unravelling fear made me go from infuriated to genuinely sad for her. Close to the bone. The way Lena Dunham portrayed the illness symptoms made me think she (the human behind the character) had actually experienced that dysfunction (which I see she has, according to Google). It is such an honest depiction that I couldn’t help but be moved, and whatever criticism she copped for that storyline (and how shitty Hannah is to her parents), it is truthful. I’m thoroughly impressed at Dunham for going there. She made me want to wrap Hannah in a blanket, give her a hug, and tell her (albeit hilarious) publisher/editor/boss to back the eff off.
As for the season’s finale: whether ironically romantic or not, what I did appreciate was how it completely subverted my expectations of a deeply disturbing ending – who could have seen that coming? I like the Natalia character, and Adam and Hannah should probably stay the hell away from each other and pair with people more stable than they are. That being said, it was still profoundly moving, for one important reason: when Hannah was at her lowest – chopped up hair, alone, ill and frightened, hiding under a bed cover – he didn’t turn away. He came through for her, and it is that realness and strength that I really get about this aloof, unconventional creature – as crazy as he can be, he truly loves her, flaws and all. That ending, OTT as it was, said more about his character than hers.
So why does he love her? On Staten Island, when Adam found himself in the odd position of defending the girl he understandably wanted to purge from his brain forever, he said of her, “Everyone’s a difficult person. She was accepting of my brand of difficult.” For all her flaws – and lord knows she has many – I think this accepting nature is one of Hannah’s genuine positive qualities, rather than the more often cited traits of “wit” and “quirkiness” attributed to her even by Ray (traits which, by the way, have absolutely nothing to do with actual character, and more to do with personality. Of course, there is a difference).
But, do Adam and Hannah have a better grasp of love than the other characters in Girls? I don’t know. Unlike Natalia, Hannah didn’t care how dark his apartment was – being an oddball herself, she seemed to be able to embrace his dark side and kooky interests without asking for him to change at all. Her only requests were extremely basic and related to how he treated her. However, that may have been due to her own damage – in the episode ‘One Man’s Trash’ (a confounding detour which may or may not have been a dream), she tells the handsome doctor of her perception that she needed to take in all experiences in order to learn from them, so that she could help others with her learned insights. But, that this perception had led her to both invite and put up with some pretty fucked up and painful things. “Something’s broken inside of me”, she tearfully admits.
Hannah’s acceptance and courting of all experiences can therefore be extremely harmful to herself. Some of the experiences she accepted with Adam, she may have accepted because of this same inner brokenness. If Hannah was a real-life person, it would be better for her to try and understand what that brokenness is, and how to take care of herself, either solo or with someone healthier for her than him. Natalia obviously doesn’t have Hannah’s wounds – she is very clear with Adam about what she does and does not want, in bed and beyond. She obviously wants a conventional relationship, and to help him fulfil that role for her (see her reaction to his apartment and her offer to help him get “organised”… right before the disturbing ‘on all fours’ encounter* – an encounter she hates, but evidently forgives, whilst making it clear to him she is not cool with his darker sexual proclivities).
Hannah, meanwhile, doesn’t really know what she wants yet, or even who she is. She’s still just a girl (I say empathically, not condescendingly). I can’t imagine what will happen to her, or who she will become, in season 3.
Which is why I can’t wait to see it.
*Interesting to note that right before the “on all fours” incident, Natalia tells Adam that his apartment is “darker than you are”. My gosh, what a depressing end to an episode of television, but brilliantly directed and written by Dunham (with executive producer Jenni Konner). Dunham never wastes a sex scene – hers actually tell the audience a great deal about the characters and their relationships, which I appreciate.
HOT OF THE PRESS: current issue of Stella Magazine. Props to the publishing team, once again!
Would you look at that cover!
In this issue: A TRIBUTE TO OUR MOTHERS
Online subscriptions available for residents in PNG, Australia, New Zealand, Asia/Pacific and the Rest of the World.
Subscribe here for your chance to WIN!
And stay in the loop by liking Stella Magazine on Facebook here.
ATTENTION READER: YOU ARE NEEDED.
Last night I shared with you the Colour Box Studio’s Pozible Fundraising Campaign: who they are, what they do, and WHY you should support/ join this community, HERE.
If you missed it, please have a read through right HERE.
Now. I would sooner staple my tongue and burn my typing fingers than ask you to donate to an unworthy cause, or anything other than a legitimate charity. But I SO ADMIRE what Colour Box Studio have achieved against the odds. They are worthy.
And they need your help. Colour Box Studio has 2 WEEKS (up to May 1st) to raise $4000, in order to continue operating at the same capacity. (I should have spruiked much earlier)
Essentially, they have two weeks to create a miracle.
WITH YOUR HELP, THEY WILL.
And supporting Colour Box Studio’s Pozible campaign has it’s own quirky rewards. Here is run down of those quirks, arranged by amount:
$5+ DONATION. YOU ROCK. You get: Colour Box Studio’s gratitude and thanks for helping to make this dream a reality for this – your – creative community.
$10+ DONATION. YOU’RE A STAR. You get: Colour Box Studio’s gratitude AND mention in it’s weekly Facebook Pozible thanks.
$15+ DONATION. MAGICAL. You get: a Hannakin “Magical” card – made & designed in Melbourne by Hanna Mancini! This is a card with a high quality digital print of an original illustration (print is sewn onto 220gsm Conquerer Laid Hi White card with red stitching). A glittery finish has also been added to the “magical” rainbow in the print. Card measures 150x105mm, and comes with a recycled paper envelope. And… you get a Facebook shout out.
$25+ DONATION. DO A LITTLE DANCE. You get: a Colour Box Studio or Pretty WAK Badge (to be picked up at Colour Box Studio); Subscription to Colour Box Studio Newsletter; Your name listed on the Pozible Wall of Fame on the Colour Box Studio Website; and of course, a Facebook shout out!
$30+ DONATION. PASIFIKA BLING. You get: A pair of amazing colourful funky earrings made by a wonderful weaver from the West, Lia Pa’apa’a. There were only 6 pairs up for grabs (see pic HERE). ONLY 2 PAIRS LEFT! You also get Facebook shout out, Newsletter Subscription, and Colour Box Studio Badge.
$35+ DONATION. BLING IT UP. You get: An awesome pendant necklace by Charlotte Filshie Jewellery – designed & handmade in Melbourne out of upcycled materials! All pendants are approx 5cm height & width on a long chain (see pic HERE). Each piece is unique – pattern & colour may vary. Reward is for one piece only – Limited number available! PLUS you get a Facebook shout out, Newsletter Subscription, and Colour Box Studio Badge.
$40+ DONATION. GOT IT COVERED. You get: A colourful iPhone 3/4 case designed and made in Melbourne by Ambette. The cases are made from high-quality 100% wool felt in a variety of colours, and are extremely durable (colour examples HERE). You also get Colour Box Studio fridge magnet! PLUS a Facebook shout out, Newsletter Subscription, and Colour Box Studio Badge.
$55+ DONATION. THE ONLY WAY IS UP. You get: Colour Box Crew Membership for 6 months – includes VIP perks like Exclusive Access to new online forum, a profile on their website, member benefits like Members networking nights, access to the CBS Pop Up Work Hub during Opening Hours (with Free WiFi). You also get a VIP Invite to ‘Throw Up Your Art’ Event at Colour Box Studio before 31 Oct – display your art for one night (for free) at their event, or just join in the fun! PLUS a Facebook shout out, Newsletter Subscription, and Colour Box Studio Badge.
$65+ DONATION. SUPER COOL STUFF BY SUPER COOL ARTISTS. You get: Able and Game “I’VE CHOREOGRAPHED A SPECIAL DISHWASHING DANCE FOR YOU” Tea Towel. Designed in Melbs by Anna & Gareth; a ”Happy Joyness” hand stitched card by local illustrator Hanna Mancini of Hannakin; ”Don’t Push Me Cos I’m Close to the Edge” KEYRING (35mm size) Pretty WAK (image HERE) ; PLUS Facebook & Website mention, Badge, & Newsletter Subscription.
$75+ DONATION. SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS. You get: VIP Invite to ‘Throw Up Your Art’ Event AND An A5 print by Melbourne illustrator Hannakin (choose one of two prints – ‘Such Great Heights’ OR ‘The Music’ – pic HERE). You also get a Colour Box Crew Membership (6 Months) PLUS Facebook & Website mention, Badge, & Newsletter Subscription .
$80+ DONATION. NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP & MEMBERSHIP. You get: a place in NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP – 14 MAY 6:30-9:30PM. Workshop facilitated by filmmaker/ Colour Box Studio Director Amie Batalibasi . In this workshop, you will learn how to use the manual settings on your camera to create long exposures, & work with natural and artificial light, to capture photographs using the “painting with light” technique. PLUS Colour Box Studio Membership!
$85+ DONATION. SOME SUPER COOL STUFF + MEMBERSHIP + VIP Invite. You get: an Able and Game “I’VE CHOREOGRAPHED A SPECIAL DISHWASHING DANCE FOR YOU” Tea Towel, designed in Melbourne by Anna & Gareth; “Happy Joyness” hand stitched card by local illustrator Hanna Mancini of Hannakin; “Don’t Push Me Cos I’m Close to the Edge” KEYRING (35mm size) by Amie Batalibasi of Pretty WAK (see pic HERE); VIP Invite to “Throw up your art” EVENT ; Colour Box Studio MEMBERSHIP (6 months) AND Facebook mention.
$150+ DONATION. WRITING’S ON THE WALL. You get: a Facebook & Website Mention; Colour Box Crew Membership (6 months); VIP Invite to ‘Thow Up Your Art’ Event ; and your name or business name, written on the Patron Wall at Colour Box Studio in the courtyard area.
$250+ DONATION. A PIECE OF REAL ESTATE . You get: A piece of the main wall in the CBS courtyard space to make your own. You can paint or paste work here & they will keep it up for 6 months. There are only 2 spaces available: Approx. 4.8m WIDE x 2.6m HIGH. This wall space is used for photo shoots & becomes the backdrop for events. [Design to be approved. This one is strictly for artists not advertising. See wall space in THIS photo of Studio 941 designs by Sunny Lim].
$500+ DONATION. PUT IT ON VIDEO. You get: Facebook & Website Mention; Colour Box Crew Membership (6 months); VIP Invite to ‘Thow Up Your Art’ Event; Your name or business name, written on the Patron Wall at Colour Box Studio; AND a personal shout out to you, your brand or business as one of the CBS TV Webisodes on its YouTube Channel.
$1000+ DONATION. SHAKE DOWN. You get: A PUBLIC SPECTACLE IN YOUR HONOUR!!! For this amount, Colour Box Studio would be blown away, socks knocked off, absolutely floored… And as a small token of their appreciation, they will gather their volunteers – and whoever is willing – to do a Flash Mob dance at a Melbourne location decided by You, to your song of choice… AND put out a media release too (of course!)
YOU CAN PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS POZIBLE CAMPAIGN HERE.
Whatever amount you can… good karma (and good rewards) shall be yours.
And every bit helps!
Get behind them – a great group of people, a great initiative, and they need you!
That’s all for today. Two weeks to go in their campaign, so I’ll be spreading the word for these hard working people a little more.
Read my write up on the Colour Box Studio’s inception/back story HERE.
‘Like’ the Colour Box Facebook page HERE.
Visit the Colour Box Studio Website HERE.
WATCH THEIR L’IL CAMPAIGN VIDEO HERE.
And share this post by clicking the share tools below.
My “normal” posts will return soon
Interested in the arts, crafts, supporting hard-working creative people & community oriented, gutsy, ‘outside the box’ projects? Well. Here is a fledgling team of volunteers – and creative hub – worthy of your support.
COLOUR BOX STUDIO is a community creative hub in Footscray, Melbourne. It operates as a multi-functional pop up creative space that aims to support and showcase Melbourne’s creative community. Its programming changes month to month to display a diverse range of artists, art-forms and creative people through pop up shops, exhibitions, events, workshops and more. Colour Box Studio is located at 236 Nicholson Street, Footscray – check them out, and they’ll give you a tour.
I wrote about Colour Box Studio’s Back Story and magnificent manifestation/inception HERE, and their successful Fashion Month Program HERE. If you need further convincing of the vision, determination and raw gutsiness of director Amie Batalibasi and her Colour Box Studio Cohorts, go back and have a read. Seriously. These bright young things are brilliant. (NOTE: after the lease at the current premises is up they will relocate operations to another).
COLOUR BOX STUDIO NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!
The thing about a community creative hub is that it needs community support. We are that community.
The Colour Box Studio team is coming towards the end of a 7-week Pozible campaign [2 WEEKS TO GO!] to raise a minimum of $7000 so that they can continue on with the next creative programs planned from May until the end of October 2013. They will likely look this:
• MAY: Young People in the Arts Program
• JUNE/JULY: Writing and Performance
• AUGUST: Music & Sound Program
• SEPTEMBER: Visual Arts
• OCTOBER: Volunteers & Members Program
(This may change slightly due to the ‘pop up’ nature of the space)
Colour Box Studio needs your help to continue on this journey to support, nurture and showcase this creative community.
Why support that journey?
Well, for the last 5 and a half months, Colour Box Studio has been reliant on 100% magnificent volunteer effort.
They always supports ethical and sustainable practices when they can on all levels of operation.
They acknowledge that they (we) are on traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. They offer their respect to the Elders of these traditional lands, and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples past and present.
The THREE programs they have run so far have been terrific:
• Christmas Pop Up Shop Program (Nov/Dec 2012),
• Digital Media Program (Jan/Feb 2013) &
• Fashion Month – Sustainable Ethical Local Fashion (Mar/Apr 2013)
AND they have showcased the work of over 40 Melbourne artists and creative people; created income for over 40 Melbourne artists; held 4 free community based events; enabled 15 artists to facilitate workshops, share skills and make an income; bonded with an amazingly generous team of volunteers; built a wonderful community of 100s of people who support the space and engage with Colour Box Studio online & offline …. all of this in 5 and a half crazy busy months!
WHAT COLOUR BOX STUDIO NEEDS!
Despite everything that it has produced, and the amount of money that goes into making in all happen, Colour Box Studio is not set up to make a profit. They take a very low commission on sales, and deliberately have very low rental fees so that artists can really benefit from its programs in a way that supports them financially – and they want to keep it that way.
SO. They have created this Pozible FUNDRAISING campaign as they believe that this is the best platform that supports fundraising and community spirit.
AND THIS IS WHERE YOU, WE, COME IN.
Colour Box Studio is aiming to raise a minimum of $7000 to go towards 6 months programming (1 May – 31 Oct 2013).
If they can raise $7000 these funds will go towards:
• rent & running expenses like internet, water, electricity etc;
• property maintenance (the building is over 200 years old & there are a few things that still need attending to!);
• materials for exhibitions, events, pop up shops, meetings, workshops;
• programming expenses such as posters, flyers, promotion, catalogues, EFTPOS facilities;
• equipment such as a speaker and microphone for events, & heating devices for winter.
If they reach this goal, they will also be able to keep their commissions and rental fees nice and low, for the benefit of the community of artists in Melbourne. Seriously, who else has that as a mission statement?
AND if they can raise $12 500 they could put funds into:
• paying 2x people one day a week for the 6 months;
• developing their website & online presence;
• purchase of a computer or portable device to use as a POS system during pop up shop times.
The journey of Colour Box Studio has been a character building experience for all involved: they have come across adversity, stumbled at times, but they have learnt from mistakes and have come together as a TEAM and COMMUNITY to achieve what they have so far.
HELP THEM continue the journey.
If you pledge, the money will only be processed IF they reach the $7000 target and at the end of their campaign. If they don’t get this funding they will be unable to continue operating at their current capacity offering FREE events, low commissions for artists, low or free rental fees for artists etc.
By supporting Colour Box Studio, you get the satisfaction of supporting a hard-working community of creative people, and being a part of something REAL, tangible, motivated by the best of intentions.
PLUS THERE ARE DONATION REWARDS! – SEE THEIR POZIBLE PAGE HERE FOR MORE DETAILS!!!
Find out more:
Link to the campaign: http://www.pozible.com/colourboxstudio
Link to video: https://vimeo.com/61697415
READY TO CONTRIBUTE?
PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT AND DONATE HERE.
SHARE THE LOVE via SOCIAL MEDIA.
CLICK TO TWEET INSTANTLY about campaign: http://clicktotweet.com/18Zc9
COPY AND PASTE THIS TO FACEBOOK:
Colour Box Studio is a community creative hub that needs a helping hand to keep supporting, nurturing and showcasing Melbourne creatives. Pledge and get rewards here - http://www.pozible.com/colourboxstudio
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“It stands out for its stillness, its unglamorousness, but above all, for its conflicted attitude toward its characters and their world.”
LAURA BENNETT review of ‘Enlightened’
I think I am psychically drawn to flawed, complex, female protagonists. Hence my current viewing habits: a disconcerting love/hate reaction to Hannah Horvath, Lena Dunham’s way over-analysed ‘Girls’ character; and Amy Jellicoe, Mike White’s ‘Enlightened’ protagonist, portrayed intensely by Laura Dern. I came to both these HBO “drama & comedy” shows in typically delayed fashion – an aversion to anything that receives an obscene amount of hyperbolic applause and simultaneously hysterical criticism (in essence, anything trending) thankfully kept me away from ‘Girls’ until I just felt like watching it one day. On the other hand, ‘Enlightened’, whose creator I have inexplicable maternal affection for, has not received the smallest fraction of the hype of ‘Girls’, and even fewer viewers (I only mention this because the shows were apparently paired in the HBO schedule). However, the critical response, particularly for the second and sadly last season (which I am about to watch, in addition to the second season of ‘Girls’), has been very favourable. But it was a podcast interview with the sensitive White himself that finally compelled me to view season one. I just love the guy.
And I loved the season, too. As batshit (pathologically honest) and annoying as its protagonist can be, ‘Enlightened’ both amused and moved me, in a way that ‘Girls’ – although it distracted and amused me (sort of) – never did. With ‘Girls’, aside from Dunham’s idiosyncratic sense of humour, it was her own portrayal of Hannah that I found strangely compelling. Had she not been playing that role, with her normal body occasionally on display, I would not have watched beyond the pilot. It fascinates me how the uninhibited exposure of a body shape so against the typical screen-acceptable vision of a woman, provides the perfect bait for the inner misogynist, and mean girl, in many people (cue “she’s fat/ugly/unworthy” insults from haters all over the world – I think I find the reaction to Hannah more interesting than the show itself). And so, the awfulness of Hannah’s entitlement somewhat diminished for me because she was so… odd. And so messy. Amy Jellicoe is messy too – but in a different way. Hannah needs to get her shit together if she wants to be a professional writer and functioning adult, and Amy is living the continuing challenge of integrating a higher consciousness (a post breakdown-induced “spiritual awakening”) into her daily life, with long held self-destructive patterns to overcome every step of the way. Both scenarios are familiar territories for me.
But ‘Enlightened’, tonally and thematically, is just a different kind of show, with a completely different intent to most television shows – even on cable. Mike White (who also plays Amy’s co-worker/side-kick Tyler) wanted to write a different kind of story about a woman – rather than “a dating show”, he wanted to create a simple storyline that would allow a deeper, slower exploration of a character, without a focus on her sexual relationships (like ‘Girls’often has). He also wanted to draw on his own experiences of having had a breakdown and then finding what can loosely be described as “spirituality” (Buddhism, plus the self-help genre) useful in his recovery. White understands and depicts the problems that can accompany being reduced to ground zero, and the pure unfiltered joy of finding a new way of being in one’s own head. It is a sacred, intoxicating, and extremely vulnerable space to be in, one I know very well, but one challenging to sustain amidst the perpetual shit fight that is the ‘real world’ of human relationships. Moreover, it looks crazy to anyone on the outside of it (even more so when the individual experiencing it was crazy to begin with). This “comedy of alienation” (White’s words) satirizes both evangelical, optimistic New-Agey freaks, and the cowardly aspects of corporate work culture. In the process, it delivers one of the most genuinely complex yet consistent portrayals of a woman – indeed, a person – I have seen on television.
Amy is a recovering rager, a scarily self-absorbed, emotionally demanding friend, but with a naivety that borders on airheadedness (I just invented a word!). At the same time, she is genuinely compassionate, affectionate, desires real and deep connection with other people, and is earnestly trying to change the world around her for the better. The problem is, she is going about it in completely the wrong way – thanks to a lack of understanding of other people’s perceptions of her, and an embarrassing lack of self-awareness. She doesn’t recognise her own anger. She doesn’t understand how inappropriate it is to unload her volatile emotions on others. She doesn’t recognise when she is making people uncomfortable. She doesn’t anticipate people’s reactions to her words and actions even though they are pretty predictable. She fills her head with self-help jargon and doggedly believes she can affect the world exactly as she imagines she could in her mind, with fairly egotistical fantasies about becoming some sort of New Age environmentalist hero in her workplace – a lousy corporate citizen called Abbadon (Hebrew term for destruction). Amy has had a glimpse of “enlightenment” – but she is still a human being. Her ego – and the cold hard realities of life – are getting in the way of her do-gooder ambitions.
Because of this, the moments that I find most stunning and moving in the first season, are when Amy (embodied brilliantly by Dern) hits walls in her interactions with other people and finally SEES herself – her own blind spots. In contrast to her more frequent self-righteous moods, these are moments in the story of genuine “spiritual” breakthrough – when she realises that she needs to change on the inside (her perspective and personal behaviour) before she can pontificate to other people about how they should be living their lives. Other moments that truly move me are when Amy momentarily relinquishes her more egoic fantasies and ambitions about what an “enlightened change-agent” should be doing to ‘save the world’, and recognises the good she can do in her own little corner of the world, every day. Episodes 3 and 5 exemplify this, beautifully. In addition, her ongoing relationship (friendship) with her ex husband tests her capacity to forgive, let go, and accept him with all his flaws (episode 4 is gorgeous in this regard… loved this poignant episode). Amy’s relationship with her mother, who has difficulty showing her love, tests her similarly. And her tense, passive aggressive relationship with her former assistant provokes some of the most unpleasant aspects of Amy’s character – not to mention some truly uncomfortable moments in the story.
But, even as she accumulates these breakthrough insights, she unfortunately persists in trying to affect big change in her environment, and big drama results – Amy cannot seem to help but stir shit up. It is a trait that she is well known for at Abbadon. When we meet Amy in the first episode, she is in the throes of a workplace break down, pre-“enlightenment” (her first words in the series are to a co-worker: “Fuck off, Cheryl. Back-stabbing cunt!”). Following her very public break down, she checks herself into a new-agey treatment centre in Hawaii to recover. Afterwards, she returns home feeling completely changed, eager to resume her old job and affect change in the lives of all she knows, Abaddon, and the world. Just how much she has changed, however, can only be ascertained by watching how Amy reacts to all the things that used to stress her out and set her off: her ex-husband Levi’s drug problems (convincingly portrayed by Luke Wilson), the hostility and politics in her workplace, her relationship with her cold mother (played wonderfully by Laura Dern’s real life mum Dianne Ladd), her tense relationship with her former assistant/fake friend Krista (nuanced performance from Sarah Burns), and her enemy status with former co-worker/adulterous lover Damon (Charles Esten).
In addition, Amy is broke, heavily in debt (because of the treatment centre bill), has to live with her mother, and is given a data processing job as a legal concession in the basement of Abaddon, working alongside what she initially perceives as a “bunch of carnival freaks”. Her former position further up in the corporate hierarchy has been filled, she keeps getting into trouble with HR, and Krista is now an Account Manager occupying Amy’s former office and brown-nosing Damon. The workplace is full of rage-triggers… someone as fiery and oblivious as Amy was always bound to make waves, one way or another. The waves this woman makes, and the ridiculous schemes she comes up with, are among the many reasons I kept watching, and why I am so keen to check out season two. After the meandering and perceptive introspection of the first season, ‘Enlightened’ takes a turn, with a tighter plot focus, propelled by Amy’s desire to uncover corporate malfeasance at Abbadon, whilst maintaining, I’ve heard, some of the contemplative aspects, philosophical nuance and poetic monologues that marked season one. As well as it’s inherent compassion for its characters. The contrast between Amy’s genuinely good intentions (revealed in those contemplative moments) and her actions in the world, highlight how difficult it can be to translate right thought into right action, when you are a flawed human in a flawed world. But Amy – bless her batshit heart – never stops trying.
I wish so hard this series could have continued. Considering people like me, a couple of AV Club writers, and reviewers are its only fans, it was never going to be a success. But I’m happy Mike White got a shot to do it. He called it his “Cinderella moment”.
Leaving you with two personal anthems: first song ends episode 3 of Girls (‘Dancing on my own’); the second sublimely overlays the last scene in episode 1 of ‘Enlightened’ (Regina Spektor’s ‘Human of the Year’).
Always happily surprised when a TV show plays a song I actually know Rare.
Inaugural Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival was a success!
Congratulations to everyone who made it happen – in particular, The Big Island Collective and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
BIG wrap up and pics soon
I’m busy trying to write stuff and not shoot myself in the foot with self-doubt, et cetera.
Hi again Sorry didn’t post on the weekend – have been extremely tired thanks to all-over-the-shop sleeping pattern this past couple of weeks.
Last Saturday, however, as part of the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival (see below) I had the good fortune of organising and participating in the Pacific Writing and Poetry Workshop Intensive, which was facilitated by the lovely Alia Gabres (Centre for Poetics and Justice). We had a diverse group of writers in this intimate workshop – teenagers, and elders, and everything in between. It was a wonderful, inspiring session. The workshop is connected to the festival’s huge Community Day – and three of the participants are performing a self-penned piece on the day!
CONTEMPORARY PACIFIC ARTS FESTIVAL
The Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival (CPAF) has been developed by Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Big Island Collective to bring together a series of events that showcase excellence in Pacific contemporary arts. This exciting cross artform event includes exhibitions, workshops, film screenings, a community day celebration, forums and much more!
The Big Island Collective is a newly formed group of artists and arts practitioners living and creating in Melbourne. They have come together to co-curate and co-produce CPAF, bringing together artists from across the Pacific and Australia.
Festival is getting mad press.
I’ll upload the program here as soon as I figure out how to.
Bookings for individual events and workshops HERE (follow the links on the page)
More on the festival, and OTHER new posts, soon.
This week was all ’business’ and I have a lot of research+writing (which I enjoy) to do this weekend, in addition to life maintenance activities (every now and then these kinds of weekends come along, don’t they?). I can report, however, that I did get a chance this week to sit down and chat with my mother, in order start getting down the family tree and stories. Why is an individualist progressive doing this?? Because I came to the realisation last year that this was something that would be a good and healing thing to do – as documented in the post ‘Discovering Rabaul’.
Well, holy shit. This “little” personal project is going to take a long, long time (which I anticipated it would anyway, but for other reasons than those I discovered this week). Drawing out information from interviewees can be tricky, due to the number of conversational tangents (albeit hilarious tangents) that happen when someone is probing/rediscovering their own memories. In addition, there are, shall we say, intergenerational communication challenges. It’s all good, though. We just have to be patient with each other, as always.
And I can already see that we will unearth some personal gold here – some great stories. I will also come to know who my grandparents and forebears were, and, in the process, come to understand why my parents are the way they are. And, as things flow on, how this affected who my siblings and I are. I must confess, that I used to think who my grandparents or parents were/are had nothing to do with me – that I am whomever I choose to be today (that is TRUE, though.). However, I also kind of believed that I had been shaped by the things I had experienced in life alone – and not the experiences of my forebears.
I know now that is not strictly true – because there are significant things that are passed on, albeit unconsciously, from generation to generation, that one needs to become conscious of, see clearly, in order to individuate and heal. I’m a sensitive person, always have been. From a young age, I sensed what I could only describe as a painful or “heavy” energy around my mother. That energy obviously had nothing to do with my own experiences – after all, I was new to the planet. But I absorbed all those feelings, and so they became a part of my experience too. Later, of course, my own individual experiences added to that dam of awful baggage, and I am working positively to drain that dam once and for all (a good solid laughter attack works wonders ).
Finding and utilising healthy and progressive ways to reprogram myself, and overcome certain patterns of thinking/emotional responses that are ingrained in me, is thus a life priority area (I must emphasise here that I am not blaming anyone – those patterns are mine to overcome). But I guess I want to understand where the “heavy” energy came from, even as I creatively and mindfully release it. This week, as I began this personal endeavour by talking to my Mum about her parents and siblings, I realised that finding out about my Grandmother, my “Papu”, and her relationship with Mum, might illuminate more about our complicated (yet still close) relationship.
My Papu died long before I was born. In 1937, whilst she was living with her husband (my Grandfather) and little daughter (my Aunt) at a mission station away from her village, Rabaul suffered an under water volcanic eruption, which created the volcano Vulcan (Kalamanagunan) – a volcano essentially on my Papu’s village. My Grandmother’s entire family – father, mother, and four younger siblings – were killed in both the eruption and the tsunami that was created. The devastation and trauma to Rabaul, and to my Papu, was severe. In the days before birth control, it took her 14 years to fall pregnant again.
In that 14-year period, Papu also lived through World War II with my aunt and grandfather, hiding in caves, suffering serious wounds, trying not to go hungry or die with food scarcity and no medical service. I asked my mother what she remembers of Papu’s temperament. Not much, she said. She remembers going to the garden everyday with her, collecting firewood and food, occasionally hand rolling my Papu’s tobacco cigarettes for her as she worked - before Papu died of lung cancer, when my mother was 10 years old. Mum unfortunately doesn’t have any memories of her being around people, or her laughing, or anything like that.
So. I think now about that legacy, and about Mum losing her mother so young, then becoming a mother herself 9 years later, as a naïve and vulnerable 19 year old. I think too, with empathy, about the trajectory of my Mum’s life – particularly her emotional life and the way she responded to those challenges, for better or worse. Suddenly, things are starting to make a whole lot of sense.
Now for a random clip.
My utterly useless/fascinating reading on Cinema Studies finally came in handy – I actually understood what Key & Peele were heckling about here ;P The hacky, “black people at the movies” stereotype joke turned on it’s ass in this skit:
“Has this dude ever heard of mise en scène? Put some information up in the frame, bitch!” - Quotable.
I meant to publish this post earlier, oy. Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for 8 Academy Awards this year, one of which Jennifer Lawrence won for her leading role in this picture (a character she admitted before accepting she absolutely did not understand, so kudos to her). In many ways, Silver Linings Playbook, a screen adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name, is a conventional romantic comedy, and there are criticisms about it’s second half “predictability” that I agree with (but how many rom coms don’t have predictable endings?!). It is also one of the films I’ve watched this year that have moved me, to my surprise.
And this is why [spoilers ahoy! But read on anyway ].
The film is about Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a man who has finally been diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder, a condition he has been struggling with unsupervised his whole life. It manifests in him as severe mood swings and “weird thinking” brought on by severe stress. The diagnosis was finally made while Pat was in a mental health treatment facility – a court ordered admission made after Pat, a substitute history teacher, beat the living shit out of the history teacher with tenure, who was having an affair with his wife, Nikki – also a teacher at the school. Prior to discovering them together, poor Pat had been having delusions about them anyway, and had caused all kinds of problems at the school with his behaviour.
So we meet Pat as he is being released from that facility and is taken home by his mother, Delores (Jacki Weaver). His father, however (Pat senior – played by Robert De Niro), is nervous about his son’s health and suitability to be at home, but Pat tries to reassure them both he is getting better. During his 8 months in the mental health treatment facility, and after losing everything – his wife, his job, his house – Pat’s recovery was driven by one obsession – “EXCELSIOR”, his new devout belief in positive thinking, and a desperate, burning drive to beat his illness and salvage his marriage. He explains this belief to his therapist thusly:
“This is what I believe to be true. This is what I learned in the hospital. You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”
So he returns to his hometown with that mission in mind, and even though Nikki has a restraining order against him, has sold their house and moved away, Pat refuses to let that “negativity”, or the well intentioned concern of his parents, deter him from this mission. Unfortunately, he wants to complete said mission without his meds, which he is ashamed to have to take (Pat also says they have adverse affects on his lucidity and bodily functions). Instead, he wants to control his illness naturally, through his “physicality” – working out, running outdoors daily.
Being off his meds make him manic though, in addition to having virtually no filter whatsoever, and a “trigger” song that causes him to lose his shit in distress whenever he hears it (either in reality or in his head). On his first night back home, whilst obsessively attempting to read the entire high school English syllabus his wife Nikki was teaching (perhaps in an effort to understand her better and increase his chances of a reunion) he has a rather violent (but hilarious) reaction to the ending of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ – hurling it through a glass window at 4am (empathy, yo – I have a similar reaction to downer endings. Through the window with them all!!!).
Soon after he arrives back home, Pat reconnects with his old friend Ronnie (played loveably by John Ortiz) and Ronnie’s wife Veronica (sharp performance by Julia Stiles), a friend of Nikki who has always hated Pat. Despite that, she and Ronnie invite him over for dinner. They also invite Veronica’s troubled and widowed younger sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has had her own mental health issues and fronts a volatile manner. Veronica seems to be trying both to assess Pat’s progress for Nikki, and introduce the two “crazy” people to each other, so that they can possibly become friends or what have you.
And somehow, despite a very odd and very rocky start, they do eventually become friends – it is Tiffany who first sees a kindred spirit in Pat. She agrees to help Pat get a letter to Nikki in exchange for his participation with her in a dance contest – dancing is something she enjoys, and although not a professional by any means she considers it her “therapy”. At first he considers this a ridiculous and embarrassing request, but his desire to communicate with Nikki eventually persuades him to do it. So, in the name of rehearsing, they have to spend lot’s of time with each other, and in romantic comedies this is when the two leads fall in love (if not at first sight) – even if it takes them both (or just one of them) the whole movie to realise it.
This is where things get a little predictable, in the trajectory of the relationship between these two characters. Yet because they are played so well, so real, I didn’t mind one bit (good acting goes a long way). I enjoyed watching these two people help each other find some healthy focus in their lives – two lives that are really at desperately low points when they meet, with both living with their parents and trying to put themselves back together. These are not successful, winning, “normal” or glamourous characters, oh no. They are two people who have been broken, scarred, dealt dodgy hands in life, and made hideous mistakes because of their pain (i.e. people I can actually relate to). Tiffany is certainly no princess and Pat is no prince charming, and gosh I felt for them both. Weird.
Other than the two leads, I loved the other characters/relationships in this film: Pat’s strong friendship with Danny, whom he met in the mental health treatment facility (a surprisingly understated performance from Chris Tucker – more of this please, Mr Tucker); and Pat’s relationship with his aging parents, who love their son but are struggling to help him. Jacki Weaver’s portrayal of Delores is so beautiful to me. Her moments are brief, but Weaver’s face, manner and voice are so expressive, conveying all the frustration, helplessness, and heartbreak of watching someone you deeply love really battle against mental illness, against the demons in their head (again, familiar territory).
And Delores is not only worried for her son Pat, but lives with the stress of her husband Pat senior’s OCD and severely superstitious high stakes gambling habit – a habit that adds an interesting and new dimension to the romantic comedy premise’s conclusion. I loved Di Niro in this role. And though Jennifer Lawrence’s career and considerable talent is now taking off, it is strangely Jacki Weaver’s later life success I find most compelling – that is hope, right there. I’ll be watching whatever she does next with great interest.
So that’s why I was pleasantly surprised with Silver Linings Playbook, with its naturally acted humans and moments of humour, in what would otherwise be terribly grim circumstances. The film to me is not so much about what Pat’s character at one point describes as his “crazy sad shit”, but how people find the silver linings after, or in the midst of, all of that. And that’s an idea – that leaves me with a feeling – I could never get tired of.
“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday, that’s guaranteed. And I can’t begin to explain that, or the craziness inside myself and everybody else, but guess what? Sunday is my favourite day again.”
My breath was once again taken away when I laid my eyes upon the current issue of Stella Magazine (see below). Publishing team is kicking some serious tail And that cover – LOVE the lovely ladies rocking the natural hair! Boo ya!!!
Every issue of Stella to date has been consistently brilliant. My respect and thanks to the Editor. You are doing incredible work.
I have a piece on page 58-59
Subscribe here for your chance to WIN!
And stay in the loop by liking Stella Magazine on Facebook here – 6000 fans and counting. (My favourite thing: the amazing reader photos!)
Melbourne’s Fashion Festival season is soon to arrive. Just finished an ethical fashion article for an art publication.
Speaking of, friend Amie Batalibasi and Colour Box Studio (CBS), a Community Creative Hub & Pop Up Art Space, will be hosting CBS Fashion Month – its own program of sustainable, ethical, local fashion (‘SELF’) industry events, artisanal workshops, vintage and second hand swap meet, and a designer Pop Up Shop showcasing both established and rising stars of Melbourne’s grassroots Ethical fashion scene. (Invite with details pictured)
Established and emerging Designers featured in the Pop Up Shop will include (check out the links):
• New Model Beauty Queen [ethically produced ladies fashion, ECA Certified]
• The Social Studio [Fashion Label and Social Enterprise]
• Jude [locally produced fashion & accessories]
• Urbanearthwear [Ethically certified underwear ECA Certified]
• Aacute [local design duo, jewellery, soy wood wick candles, soon to be launched fashion label]
• ELandTINO [fashion & accessories]
• Studio 941 [hand painted silk accessories]
• NEW! Twitch Women’s Sewing Collective, no link yet [South-Sudanese collective in Dandenong; linked to Social Studio]
• Aqua Babe [Eco Friendly Casual Fashion]
• 3 Fish [Fairtrade Organic Clothing]
• M*inc Design [Upcycled handbags]
• Etiko Fairtrade [stockings and underwear]
• The Skeleton Dance, no link available [locally produced handmade cotton basics; one of CBS’ volunteers and RMIT Fashion student]
More details on Pop Up Shop HERE.
Artisanal workshops will also feature in the Fashion Month program, including a silk scarf printing workshop led by Ida Suod of Studio 941 (March 27 & April 3), and an accessories screen-printing and sewing workshop led by Liz Doust of Ambette (March 16 & 17). More workshops to be announced.
Ida Suod will also be doing a Pop Up Shop residency, producing hand-painted silk creations on site from Feb 28 to March 13.
COLOUR BOX CLOTHES SWAP EVENT:
A free-for-all ‘Clothes Swap’ will also be held, with CBS’ courtyard to be turned into a gigantic Vintage store. The idea is to encourage people to recycle and reuse materials and garments already in circulation. All in the name of ‘SELF’ – sustainable, ethical, local fashion. “Through Fashion Month at Colour Box Studio we hope to encourage ethical shopping, promote local designers and have a good time doing it”, Amie says.
Clothes Swap happening March 10. More details HERE.
‘SUSTAINABLE ETHICAL LOCAL FASHION’ FORUM/NETWORKING EVENT:
Happening on March 20, the forum will be led by Dale Cornell from NMBQ, and include invited guest speakers Vicki Sterling (Bonds Clothing), Simon Mc Rae (Ethical Clothing Australia), Tegan Rose (Ink & Spindle) and another very special guest I’ll hold of from mentioning for now until it is confirmed.
The forum will address how designers and artists can match their values with their business, and make it viable – in a welcoming, fun, artist-focused environment. Established and emerging designers, photographers, stylists, models, fashion writers and connoisseurs… all welcome.
Make sure to book your place in this evening of conversation HERE.
(Couple of extra treats in store, I’m told )
Cheers to the Fashion Month Planning Committee who are making it all happen. The team comprises volunteers from the CBS Management team, all of who are artists and creative people working tirelessly in a range of roles. And to the local fashion designers who have generously lent their expertise in fashion design and insider insights into the fashion industry. CBS engages directly with artists with full trust in their skills and perspectives.
As I mentioned in this ‘White Ribbon Day’ post, friend / huge-hearted sista Maryann Talia Pau conceived and continues to lead the 1 Million Stars public art project. Please do read about it in her own words HERE.
Here’s the lastest update!
FREE WORKSHOPS 2013
Free Star WEaving workshops are happening in Melbourne and interstate. The aim will be one each month (a few hours long) until December.
FREE Workshop number one is happening on Saturday 9 March at Northcity4 from 1-3pm. More details HERE.
At its heart, 1 Million Stars consciousness is about building “collective courage that inspires everyone to be light and stand up to all forms of violence, including physical, emotional, racial, gender and religious.”
The project is thus far supported by The Thousands, Global Leadership Foundation, The Social Studio, Melbourne Free University, Frankie & Swiss, Brunswick Baptist Church and the Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle, to name a few.
Details on INSTALLATION will yet be revealed.
COUNTING THE STARS
Just before Christmas last year, Maryann received 2 lots of 100 star packages – one each from local Brunswick woman Annie Quail, and Aunty Maureen Lander from Aotearoa, NZ.
Some students from Wellington Point Hight in Brisbane supplied stars last month!
Star number is estimated to be around 5000 now but an official count will probably be done after Easter.
If you are kindly making stars, and have a few now to unload, please send them through to Maryann and the project before Easter or shortly after. Spread the word
Love & Light.
On Saturday (yesterday) I attended the opening of the exhibition ‘PEACE’. The exhibition comprises striking photographs from the eight Australian photographic journalists who make up the DEGREE SOUTH collective: Tim Page, Ashley Gilbertson, Stephen Dupont, Ben Bohane, Michael Coyne, Jack Picone, David Dare Parker and the late Sean Flynn. It was opened by legendary Australian actor Jack Thompson, who was a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in the 1990s, helping to establish a child protection agency called ‘Krousar Thmey’ (’new family’ in Khmer).
Underpinning the exhibition is one question: What does peace look like?
The photographers have spent much of their lives documenting conflicts around the world. The curator invited the photographers to go over their collections, this time in search of PEACE – images of peace that could resonate as powerfully as their images of conflict and war. Notably, the consensus amongst the Degree South collective was that this was a difficult theme. Whilst they found it quite easy to dive into their vast collections and emerge with ‘strong’ images of conflict (often the reason for being drawn to these locations in the first place), looking for reflections of peace captured in that same collection required signifcant reflection on their part.
And what the photographers discovered, upon reflection, was that the images of peace they captured were in fact personal photographs – “Rather than providing an overarching or grand narrative for peace” the blurb stated, the photographers found peaceful glimpses in their surroundings. Thus, they discovered that peace is often most profound in mundane circumstances. “This might help explain something of its elusiveness, both as a state of being and as a ‘story’ ”, it says. Indeed. Because that is what peace is – a state of being. And it comes in moments. Moment to moment choices to set aside the urge to argue, attack, defend, expand, conquor, strike, dominate, pay back… win.
“War is easy to represent” the ‘Peace’ exhibition press release said. “Peace seems much more difficult. The only images we have of peace tend to be clichés or pejoratives: hippies and daisy chains; olive branches and white doves; rainbows and peaceniks.” Yet I would argue we do know what peace looks like, because most of us living here live it, everyday. And it’s important to note that many – if not most – of the photographs in this collection, despite their diverse locations, are of that – of “everyday”, fleeting moments, inbetween the bloody insanity and pain-making of war, human conflict. Someone meditating in the middle of a protest. Romanian children smiling genuinely, and briefly, for the camera. Women in Herat waiting to cast their votes. Twirling dervishes, spinning in ecstatic trance states. Guns being literally cut up like litter in the Solomon Islands, post conflict. A man sewing up a hole in his garment.
Whenever I am at a photographic exhibition, I inevitably ask myself what it is I am actually viewing, no matter what the subject. Which is why Stephen Dupont’s words on his contribution really struck me: “my selection of photographs is intended to make you think about what you are actually staring at.” Dupont makes the point that someone merely glancing at his images of Afghanistan might think that they are “obviously” about war – when, in fact, they are captured moments of peaceful reflection in the midst of a war zone. In contrast, there is one David Dare Parker image that epitomises how sometimes an image that seems to be depicting peace, can simultaneously carry with it the pain legacy of a combative world. It is of a Romanian boy standing in a field, arms outstretched. When asked by Parker whether he was being a scarecrow, the boy said, “No, I am dead.” (There is an old Gypsy saying: “Bury me standing, for all my life I have been on my knees.”)
Similarly, Ashley Gilbertson’s images from the series Bedrooms of the Fallen 2007 - , taken of the now unoccupied bedrooms of recently deceased (and so very young) United States soldiers, depicts both peace and the ugliness of war at the same time. One of the images is of the bedroom of Californian Army Private First Class Karina S Lau, who died at the age of 20 in 2003, when her helicopter was shot down in Falluja, Iraq. Her lovely bedroom is unambiguously ‘girly’ – plush toys from childhood, patterned bed dressings. Strangely, it was this photograph of a female combatant that got me thinking about the dearth of the ‘Feminine’ in this exhibition. By that I do not mean a lack of women – there are female ‘subjects’ in some of the photographs (including Tim Page’s image of mothers in New York protesting against the Viet Nam War in 1967).
When I asked artist friend Taloi Havini (who’s paternal country Bougainville also suffered a bloody war last century – the background to her exhibition ‘Blood Generation’) about her impression of the exhibition, she articulated what I had felt. The collection is impressive. The photographers are male and so the photographs are taken from male perspectives - Western male perspectives – by people who have an interest in covering conflict in their work for varied professional and personal reasons. Active combatants in wars tend to be overwhelmingly male. ‘Access’ to women by a male photographer would be affected by cultural restrictions and parameters, as well as the comfort level of a subject to be photographed. And at this point I am hungry for anti-war, pro-peace representations that embody what many regard, rightly or wrongly, as ‘Feminine’ values (nurturing, harmony with nature, et cetera), and perspectives.
In fact, whenever the subject of peace comes up, my mind continuously goes back to a documentary on the women-led peace movement in Liberia, which I wrote about in this post: Peace as a verb: being an ‘actionist’ of peace. It is one of my favourite peace stories. The documentary ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ was produced by Abigail Disney, and follows Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist awarded a Nobel Prize in 2011, and the amazing role Liberia’s humble (and largely overooked, certainly by Western media) market women played in the toppling of President Charles Taylor, the corrupt and ruthless warlord. You can read more about the role women and the ‘Feminine’ play in peacemaking here.
In opening ‘Peace’, Jack Thompson juxtaposed the way the original inhabitants of this land lived here for thousands upon thousands of years (in what he described as “equilibrium” with nature), with the European settlers – who carried with them the legacy of continuous territorial conflict, resource exhaustion, and aggressive expansionism. It was his segway into introducing his concept of peace: that is, peace is “the planet we inherit”. Thomson’s words ring true, and I would put it this way: that the nature of peace, is in nature. It is our natural state of being, in supposedly mundane moments, too often disturbed when outside forces compel us to react to preserve that peace, or when egoic thinking, vested material interests, obsession with power and ignorance compel us to engage in war. This exhibition reminds us of that.
‘Peace’ is being exhibited at MGA until 28 April 2013.
“Welcome to the island of misfit toys.”
The Perks of being a Wallflower moved me. There, I said it. I ignored an unfavourable review and criticisms about structure and “big print” dialogue made by someone I know, watched it yesterday, and had a satisfying experience. In fact, I wish this gently told, sensitive, subtly funny and compassionate film had come out when I was in high school, rather than American Pie ;P (I kid)
This is weird, because I don’t often like “teen” movies (other than John Hughes films, that is). It’s not that I don’t like films that fit into that genre – on the contrary, I adore coming-of-age films. However, high school films that actually bring some realism to them often provoke emotional responses in me that frankly I hate. They tap into pain memories, you see, without giving me some catharsis at the end of that.
My high school experience was unfathomably pain full – I had friends, I guess, but what was going on in my life and, in particular, my head, was so, so bad, so unhealthy, that I wagged huge stretches of school, took pills when I didn’t need to, and sometimes cried myself to sleep. I was terrified and lonely and felt like a freak.
And so every now and then, if I find myself going past a secondary school, I will irrationally feel a little queasy in my stomach (I often have the same feeling around hospitals). Additionally, any teen film or TV series that isn’t ridiculously overdone/a comedy/a musical/a comedic-musical, is usually a huge turn off.
Not so, with The Perks of being a Wallflower. This 2012 film is based on the coming-of-age epistolary novel of the same name, written by American novelist Stephen Chbosky and published in 1999 (again, I wish I had read this in high school – grade 9 could have been vastly improved. Think I read ‘So Much to Tell You’, though).
The film follows Charlie, an introverted American teenager going into his freshman year of high school. In the opening scene, Charlie is typing what appears to be a letter/a journal entry, which he begins with the salutation “Dear Friend”. What he writes, hints at Charlie’s troubled history.
When he begins high school, he finds it to be worse than middle school. The only connection he makes is with his ‘Advanced English’ teacher Mr Anderson. Despite Charlie’s reticence about expressing his mind verbally in class, Mr Anderson notices his intelligence, and as the film goes on he gives Charlie books to stoke his passion and talent for writing, and build his knowledge of literature.
Charlie’s luck changes when he finally makes a friend – actually two friends. He connects with senior students Patrick, a flamboyant class clown who has to take Charlie’s shop class, and his kind-hearted stepsister Sam, whom he falls for immediately.
When they discover that Charlie’s best friend committed suicide and that Charlie is isolated, they welcome him into their social group (because they aren’t assholes, like so many teens in films tend to be) – which includes the intellectually aggressive Mary Elizabeth, who awkwardly becomes Charlie’s first girlfriend (you’ll understand why I say ‘awkwardly’ if you watch the film).
I won’t say anything more about these characters, because any more details would inevitable be spoilers. I will say that Charlie, Patrick and Sam have very real issues, histories, and lives, and are beautifully portrayed by the actors – Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson (and I don’t care that they’re in their 20s and playing teenagers – they look the part, unlike some other 20-somethings-playing-teens).
As I said in the beginning, I like coming-of-age type films, so I don’t need a helluva lot of plot if I find the protagonist and a few other characters captivating – which I definitely did here. Seeing characters just figuring shit out about life and themselves can keep me interested for a while, especially if I empathise with the protagonist. Charlie has to deal with something by the end of this film: a dark wall needs to come down… it is the wall that made him sick. Logan Lerman’s expressive face made me want to see that happen.
In fact my only criticism (if you could call it that) would be that all three of them were too nice, and frankly I have never met teenagers that kind (I’m sure they exist though, I’ve just not met them). Having said that, Jack Wilson of The Age criticised the film in this review for what he deemed falseness, and shying away from any aspect of adolescent behaviour:
“The script is transparently fake at almost every moment, congratulating the gang on their non-conformity while soft-pedalling any aspect of adolescent behaviour – drug use, sex, profanity – that might upset the American mainstream.”
My oh my, how one thing can be interpreted and experienced so profoundly differently depending on the condition of the eyes (and mind, and soul) of the people viewing it. Because whilst I agree that misfits are all too often played by ridiculously “good-looking and poised” people, and that sometimes the dialogue was too “transparent”, I didn’t see the “congratulating” of non-conformity he identified – I saw teenagers self-consciously adopting “non-conformist” sub-cultural affectations to establish some early sense of individual and group identity, which does tend to happen at that age.
And I didn’t see “soft pedalling” of adolescent behaviour – I saw innocence colliding with “real world” issues like drug use, sexuality, homophobia, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and mental illness which, despite the blurry naïveté that overlays it all and permeates a lot of this film (which did not seem inappropriate to me, given the nature of the protagonist) also rang true (I was doing reckless adolescent shit and sleeping with a teddy bear. Sometimes the lines aren’t all that clear).
Most of all, I saw three characters coming to terms with a complex idea, simply articulated first by Mr Anderson, and repeated later by Charlie:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Each of these characters are finding out what that means, for them – each one’s circumstances are different, but they are learning where lines need to be drawn and how to value themselves. That’s what this movie is about to me, and it also happens to be one of the big themes of this blog: learning how to love and accept yourself, so you can choose the best love for yourself in life. And accept no less than legitimate, equal, honest love.
All I ask for in a film, these days, is for a sensory/emotionally or intellectually satisfying experience. I want to be entertained or moved or, if I am lucky, both. Even with that as my standard, I am still frequently let down, depressed by brutal superficiality and the grey cynicism of too many filmmakers. Not so with Wallflower. It hit a nerve that hasn’t been hit in quite some time – but gave me some release at the end, too.
And now I’m looking forward to finally seeing Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln :-)
“I don’t want to be someone’s crush. I want people to like the real me.”
Oh thank goodness, my internet is working again – I’ve been having tech issues for two hours!
So a couple of Sundays ago I mentioned I am becoming more mindful of the products I consume and the products I use on my body – in essence, everything in my bathroom. In this post, I want to talk about common INGREDIENTS found in your shampoo, body wash, conditioners, skin creams… in essence, in toiletries.
The very first thing I did when I became interested in what I was putting on my skin, hair, and body, was look at the ingredients lists on the containers and bottles in my toiletries collection. If you do this, you will notice something: that you probably don’t have a clue what MOST of those listed ingredients are. Let alone why they are in there, how they are made, where they come from, or how they are obtained.
I dare say most of us are willfully ignorant of the answers to these questions, and that ignorance extends to a wide array of products we buy and consume to keep the economy going (or, rather, to keep our lives going… which, let’s face it, is the same thing). We are, more often than not, unconscious consumers.
I could (and probably eventually will) do similar posts on a wide array of consumer goods and services. But right now I am thinking about what’s in your BATHROOM. So here goes – what I know about common ingredients found in our toiletries, so far (I will add amendments and date them as I learn more, with citations/references as well).
COLOURS, or COLOURANTS.
What do they do? Add a colour, of course.
How are they made? Synthetic colours are often derived from coal tar, with some coming from mineral sources and a few from plants or animals. Obviously, the industrial manufacturing process of creating the coal tar and mineral-based colours is energy-intensive.
Iron oxides can also be found in cosmetics. They originate as minerals, but chemicals are often used to isolate and refine the material.
One natural colourant, mineral titanium dioxide (also used as a sunscreen), has been found in studies to be photo-reactive – that is, unstable in the presence of sunlight!
Here are some of the names colours might appear as:
Aluminum lakes, astaxanthin, azulene, canthaxanthin, carmine, sodium copper chlorophyllin (chlorophyll), D&C colors (all), FD&C colors (all), ultramarine, zinc oxide.
Natural alternatives? As stated above, some colours – like titanium dioxide – are natural but unstable/harmful when used cosmetically. In the US, other “natural” colours were controversially being extracted from fruits and vegetables using toxic chemical solvents such as hexane or acetone, and chemicals actually restricted in the EU.
There are only a few fruit or vegetable colours that have been FDA (U S Food and Drug Administration) approved for what they deem ‘cosmetics’: annatto, henna (in hair coloring only) and caramel (from sugar).
EMOLLIENTS (and HUMECTANTS)
What do they do? They help prevent drying of the skin, by providing a barrier on the body against water loss. Some are humectants, attracting water from their surroundings. Emollients are vital ingredients in moisturisers. They create emulsion so that the skin can absorb the product.
How are they made? The synthetic ones are chemicals (of course). The whole industrial process of making these chemicals involves a lot of energy (fossil fuels, with resulting pollution in air and water), lots of intense heat and/or pressure, and sometimes-reactive agents. Synthetic emollients are not biodegradable, and some have been proven to accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes of the body.
They might show up in ingredients lists as any of the following ‘WTF’ items:
Acetylated lanolin alcohol, butyl adipate, butylene glycol, capric/caprylic triglyceride, ceteareth-2, ceteareth-2 glyceryl monostearate, ceteareth-20, ceteareth-27, cetearyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, cetearyl isononanoate, cetearyl octanoate, cetyl alcohol, cetyl esters, cetyl palmitate, coconut fatty acids, cyclomethicone, decyl oleate, dicaprylate-dicapriate, dimethicone, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, dodecatrienol, emulsifying wax, eucerin (petroleum jelly), fat alcohol (cetearyl alcohol), fatty acids, glycerol-mono-di-stearate , glycerol-mono-stearate-palmitate, glyceryl cocoate, glyceryl stearate, potassium stearate,hydrated palm glycerides, hydrogenated oils, isobutyl stearate, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, isostearyl-isostearate, jojoba butter/wax (hydrogenated jojoba oil), lanolin linoleate, lauryl lactate, methyl glucose dioleate, mineral oil, non-vegetable glycerine or glycerol, octyl palmitate, octyldodecanol, oleth 2, paraffin, petrolatum, plant emulsifying wax, squalane, stearate, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, vegetable emulsifying wax.
Some synthetic humectants are:
Propylene Glycol, Ethylene/Diethylene Glycol, PEG compounds (eg Polyethylene Glycol), Synthetic alcohols (eg Glyceryl Coconate, Hydroxystearate, Myristate, Oleate).
Natural alternatives? The following natural oils are alternatives to synthetic emollients: almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil (my people love this), hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil palm oil, pumpkin seed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil (my skin seems to like this ingredient), tamanu oil, wheat germ oil. Always better if the oil has actually organic certification (oh, god, think I just created another blog post topic – organic certification. Coming some time in the future, yo). Certified organic oils should be cold-pressed – crushed under low-heat conditions – from fresh fruit and seeds/nuts. This is done to preserve beneficial phyto-nutrients. Natural waxes like beeswax, cocoa butter and shea butter are also emollients.
PLUS Lecithin, Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) and Glycerin are natural humectants. In particular, natural phospholipids, from lecithin, are fantastic humectants! Phospholipids attract water from the surrounding air and hold water where an increased level of hydration is needed.
What do they do? They alter the way water and oils interact, by allowing tiny blobs of oils and waxes to float freely in water (or vice versa) without those blobs merging together and separating out.
How are they made? Let me get back to you on that one
Once again, acetylated lanolin alcohol is a synthetic emulsifier, as is cetearyl alcohol, emulsifying wax, glycerol-mono-di-stearate, and stearyl alcohol. Others are alkyl polyglycoside, betaine, carbomer, carboxymethyl cellulose, cocamidopropyl betaine (coco betaine), ethyl acetate, ethylene glycol distearate, fatty acid alkanolamide, glyceryl mono-, di-oleate, PEG-100 stearate, PEG-25 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium sulfosuccinates, sorbitan esters, sorbitan stearate, and triethanolamine (TEA).
Natural alternatives? Lecithin, which is often used in the food industry. Lecithin can be derived from soya beans, which contain 0.3 % to 0.6 % lecithin. It can also be obtained from cold pressed vegetable oils, egg yolk, nuts and seeds.
What do they do? Make the product smell good. Or slightly better…
How are they made? They can be synthetic or natural.
The synthetic ones come primarily from petroleum sources. They are much, much cheaper for manufacturers to use.
The highest quality natural fragrances – essential oils – are those with organic certification.
Fragrances have been identified as one of the major contributors to indoor air pollution, because of the way volatile ingredients readily disperse into the air – they can be passively inhaled easily. Many people have adverse reactions to fragrances. And when they are applied on the body, those volatile ingredients can rapidly enter the body through skin absorption (particularly if surfactants are also in the product).
Some common synthetic fragrances found in toiletries:
Amyl acetate (banana fragrance), anisole, apple fragrance, banana fragrance, benzophenones 1 to 12 (rose fragrance), berry fragrance, bitter almond oil (benzaldehyde), cinnamic acid, coconut fragrance, cucumber fragrance, honeysuckle fragrance, lilac fragrance (anisyl acetate), mango fragrance, melon fragrance, methyl acetate (apple fragrance), methyl salicylate (wintergreen or birch fragrance), plum fragrance, peach fragrance, phenethyl alcohol (rose fragrance), strawberry fragrance, vanillin, verataldehyde (vanilla fragrance).
Natural alternatives? Certified organic essential oils! There are HUNDREDS of essential oils worldwide.
What do they do? Preserve it, yo! Increase the stability and life of a product by preventing bacterial and mould growth.
How are they made? Thar depends on whether they are synthetic/chemical or natural. There are so many natural and organic preservatives that humans have been using for thousands of years.
The thing about synthetic preservatives, again, is that they are cheaper for manufacturers to use. All of them are considered toxic in high doses, but manufacturers who use them will argue that small amounts in products are harmless. There seems to be a lack of conclusive evidence on that.
Synthetic preservatives might show up in ingredients lists as any of the following ‘WTF’ items:
Ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, benzethonium chloride, benzyl alcohol, BHA, BHT, boric acid, butyl paraben, captan, cetrimonium bromide, chloramine, chlorhexidine ,chlorobutanol, chloroxylenol, chlorphenesin, denatured alcohol, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin (contains formaldehyde), ethanolamines, ethyl paraben, euxyl, germaben germall, hexachlorophene, imidazolidinyl urea ((formaldehyde donor – can releasesformaldehyde if temperature over 10 degrees celcius), isopropyl alcohol, kathon, methenamine, methyl paraben, methylisothiazolinone, phenethyl alcohol, phenoxyethanolm, phenylphenol , potassium metabisulfite, potassium sorbate, propyl paraben, quaternary ammonium compounds, salicylic acid, SD alcohol, sodium benzoate, sodium bisulfite, sodium boratem sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, sodium propionate, sorbic acid, succinic acid, thimerosal, undecylenic acid.
Natural alternatives? Nature provides thousands of plants that have various phyto-chemical constituents that are natural preservatives! Some examples of natural preservatives extracted from plants: Tea Tree Essential Oil, Thyme Essential Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Bitter Orange Extract.
What do they do? Other substances are dissolved or diluted in theses liquids. They are also used for the extraction of botanical constituents.
How are they made? I don’t know the specifics of what the manufacturing process entails, but many companies opt for cheaper, toxic synthetic solvents in extraction. This is due to the fact that these solvents work faster to extract more of an herb’s phyto-chemicals. Common chemical solvents hexane, acetone and methanol are toxic both to handle and to ingest (neurotoxins and pulmonary irritants).
Synthetic solvents might show up in ingredients lists as any of these:
Acetic acid, acetone, amyl alcohol, benzene, butylene glycol, ethyl alcohol, synthetic, ethyl butyl acetate, ether, ethylene glycol monophenyl-ether (phenoxyethanol), glycerine, isopropyl alcohol, hexane, methanol, phenol, propyl alcohol, propylene glycol, SD alcohols.
Natural alternatives? WATER is the most natural solvent.
What do they do? Substances capable of dissolving oils, and holding dirt in suspension, so it can be rinsed away (CLEANSED) with water. You’ll find these in skin cleansers and shampoos.
How are they made? You know the equation: synthetic equals cheaper production costs, equals higher profits for companies! They’ll often be used with synthetic foam boosters, foam stabilizers and thickeners to create that much coveted “rich” consistency.
Want to find synthetic surfactants in your product? Look for these:
Ammonium lauryl sulfate, betaine, carboxylate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, coco betaine, coco polyglucose, DEA cetyl phosphate, decyl glucoside, decyl polyglucose, disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate, glycerol laurate, glycerol monolaurate, glycerol stearate, glyceryl cocoate, lactamide DEA, lauramide DEA, lauramide DEA/MEA, methyl glucose dioleate, olefin sulfonate, cocamine, cocoamphoglycinate, cococarboxamid MEA-4-carboxylate, coconut and corn oil “soap”, coconut surfactants–(ammonium lauryl or laureth sulfate), cocamide DEA or MEA, coconut betaine, lauramide DEA, magnesium lauryl sulfate, neutralized coconut extract, olefin sulfonate, PEG-100 (polyethylene glycol) stearate, PEG-150 (polyethylene glycol) distearate, sodium cocosulfate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, sodium myreth sulfate, sodium myristoyl sarcosinate, sodium stearate, sorbitan stearate, sucrose cocoate, sucrose/glyceryl cocoate, “sugar surfactant”, sulfated/sulfonated oil, TEA (triethanolamine) lauryl sulfate, sodium cocoamphodiacetate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, sucrose cocoate, decyl glucoside, decyl oleate, diethanolamine (DEA), disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, glyceryl cocoate, laureth-13 carboxylate, triethanolamine (TEA).
Natural alternatives? There are of course naturally derived soaps, made from the combination of oils, of either plant or animal origin, and alkali. Be aware that in some countries, ingredients labeled as ‘soap’ are actually non-organic synthetic oleochemical or petrochemical detergents – it all depends on classification standards. Investigate the standards in your country.
True and natural soaps are referred to as castile soap. Natural soaps can also be made from vegetable oils such as almond, cocoa butter, coconut oil, hemp seed, jojoba, olive, palm, safflower, shea nut, and sunflower. Yucca Extract, Soapwort, and Quillaja Bark Extract can also be used as surfactants.
What do they do? Although thickness of a product does not equate with quality in a product, many consumers have been conditioned to like thicker, creamy, “luxurious” creams, etc. Sometimes though, a thickener may be used to help stabilise an emulsion.
How are they made? The profit factor once again motivates many large manufacturers to create synthetic thickeners for their formulations.
They may show up on ingredients lists as:
Carbomer, cocamide DEA, MEA, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hyrdoxymethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, methacryloyl ethyl betaine, methacrylates copolymer, oat protein, potassium carbomer, potassium stearate, quinoa protein, soy protein, vegetable cellulose, wheat protein, xanthan gum.
Natural alternatives? Locust bean gum, guar gum, acacia gum, clay minerals.
IN CONCLUSION: Making changes.
My own bathroom is by no means “pure” yet, and there are a couple of chemical-laden products that I am yet to find effective naturally derived substitutes for. Having said that, I have made a lot of changes, and have been gradually replacing many of the products that I use (or previously used) with ones that have, at a basic level, more identifiable ingredients! And I’m liking the changes so far, as is my body.
So, all I am saying is this: Just take care. Be aware. If you are going to use something on you or your child’s body so intimately and frequently, you might want to take a little time to find out what is actually in it.
“Today looked like cerise, and it tasted like honey & lemon peels.”
My perfectly sober brain, 5 minutes ago.
Holy shit wp-admin can be infuriating! I mean, good night Or Marum, in Kuanua.
My brain has been having some sublimely unusual thoughts today (SUNDAY… although I realise it is after midnight already). I am not sure what to make of it all. Nonetheless, any irregular thoughts that don’t produce a mountain of anxiety – and result in me wanting to crawl into a hole and hide – are positive, in my experience. Incidentally, playwright bootcamp began this weekend, too.
Speaking of, who would have thought that getting in my body would be the key to overcoming writer’s blocks – both creative and personal? Certainly, not me. Which is why it is so valuable to be taught/counselled by an established actor & playwright. This student has much to learn. And the work of the next five months has truly begun: art, theatre, freelancing, and, most importantly, taking care of myself. It’s on. Into the unknown again!
This is how I feel right now:
Hmmm. Observer notes that the subject’s sense perception seems to be waking up.
[POST I intended to post on Sunday will be posted at 9am - it's a long one! Apologies, but I just had too many distractions today].
“The body gives up what it no longer needs.”
Hello again ☺ I’ve spent the last two weeks essentially sorting out my living situation and clearing my schedule enough so that I can focus solely on my HEALTH this semester (yes, the whole semester). This is something that I absolutely need to do for myself, at this point in my life. As much as I enjoyed the rollercoaster that was 2012, I realised in early January that my body was still carrying a lot of tension and toxic emotions from the previous year (and years), which I still needed to release. I deserve no less than a healthy foundation for everything that comes next.
The task of releasing all that accumulated tension is one that requires my full, present attention. Consequently, the only thing I have planned at the moment is participation in an Arts Festival, a playwright development program, and some freelancing. The rest of my time will be devoted to taking good care of my body, through pretty structured days of cooking & eating very healthy food, an exercise regiment, and “detoxing” my bathroom.
What does that mean? In essence, I am gradually, as much as possible, replacing my toiletries with brands from my suburban health food store that do not contain dangerous chemicals (I’ll write about these chemicals in a future post). I have also started making my own simple hair care products, with unprecedented results. I learned about these recipes over the summer when looking for more natural products for my Afro curls, and through sharing tips and advice with other Sistas, I discovered ways to care for my health, feel pretty and save heaps of money simultaneously ☺
CHANGE IS GOOD.
All these changes feel really good, at this point of my life – part of a gradual progression towards a more conscious way of living, I suppose. I’m doing this because I want too – not because I feel a need to. And I’m leaning into the changes, rather than trying to instigate too many things at once, to ensure that the changes are sustainable. It’s a good idea not to get bogged down in rule making – I found that when I stopped berating myself for my former addiction to cheese, I stopped craving cheese. I’m now pretty much a soy girl, I have a few vegetarian days per week, but nothing is out of bounds – I just tend to not want the so-called “bad” stuff anymore. I respect my body enough to give it the “good” stuff. Taking into account how self-abusive I have been in the past, this change is amazing.
THE BODY IS A TEMPLE – AND MINE NEEDS EXTRA CARE.
Too often I try to simply ignore the fact that I am disabled. The problem with that is that I don’t give myself the extra care I realistically need in order to ensure the smooth functioning of my body, and even energy levels. My spinal cord injuries are pretty complex and affect my entire spinal cord. But, simply put, I have C4 very, very incomplete quadriplegia and T10 incomplete paraplegia, as well as scoliosis (related to the C4 injury), which I also had surgery to stop/correct in my teens. On a day-to-day physical level, this medical history alerts me to its existence through heinous amounts of PAIN. I choose not to take any medication for this. Instead, I meditate, and get regular massage & therapies from a trusted and extremely competent local practitioner I have been a client of for about six years. I’ve developed a tolerance for the pain, but the strain on my body is significant on a good day.
This is just one of the reasons why it is so important for me now to devote quality time to loving my body, as a whole – to make that my priority. And to fully integrate some new healthy lifestyle practices that will sustain me for the rest of my life. Spinal cord injuries also affect digestion, and bladder and bowel functioning. Thankfully, I do not have major issues in those areas, but I do not want that to change. Yet another reason why I need to bring my focus back to the body right now.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to get all my other annual check-ups out of the way, too. I already had my annual eye test, and will be picking up my new prescription glasses and sunglasses, with new frames, this week. Can’t wait to get them so I can actually see things!!! I picked new frames to console myself about having to get a new prescription. Fingers crossed that my prescription will not change for many years to come.
ROLLING ON: ‘PUSH GIRLS’, & GETTING ON WITH LIFE.
Speaking of healthy disabled Women (kind of), someone told me about a reality TV Show (yes, one of those and yes, I have no beef with them) that I might want to check out – Push Girls, which aired its first season last year, follows the lives of four young women who have been paralysed, and displays the day-to-day challenges and triumphs they encounter. It’s reality TV, so goddam it for the sake of marketing they have been given “type” labels: Angela, the model; Tiphany, the blonde bombshell; Mia, the athlete; and Auti, the dancer.
Some of the promotional slogans are cringe-worthy (“I don’t stand up, I stand out.” Oy vey). And the promotional shots are super slick. But I prefer this photo of the ladies just being real – and I suspect much of the show features just that, the ladies just living their lives the best way they can:
I’m hoping that, rather than a cliché ridden piece of television laden with shallow self-help mantras, it is a fascinating show about four ladies who have been through some goddawful shit, but are getting on with the business of living. Occasionally in front of the cameras.
The possibility that it will be the latter makes me want to watch it. So, I’mma check it out when I get some free time And report back here about it later.
“ 5:30PM: ‘Pimp my Ride’… oh, I like that one.”
My conservative Mum, reading the contents of the TV Guide for Tuesday evening out loud, while we had afternoon cups of tea together earlier today. Hehe.
This week has been & will continue to be cray… . I’ll post on Sunday when I find some time to breathe. Right now though, I’m going to make me some creamy mushroom & basil fettuccine for a late dinner! Then I’m going to wash my hair!! Then read my emails, and do some paperwork!!! Then… who knows. Pedicure whilst watching ‘Key & Peele’? Probably not. I booked a brow wax at the crack of friggin dawn (before the day’s meeting & errands, see), so probably will just sleep.
A productive Tuesday evening
“I don’t want a ‘perfect’ family. I love my own.”
My sister and family left a few days ago. Saturday was our last wonderful day together – all my parents, siblings, kids and in-laws. Naturally I feel awful. Deeply loved, nourished, but so, so sad. Out of the womb and alone once more.
I don’t know if or when we’ll ever be in the same place again. It’s back to our very separate, very different lives. Telecommunication problems in PNG make skype impossible, email/social media difficult. If you’re in a position to see your whole family regularly, know how lucky you are. I waited a lifetime for this summer, and it was everything I thought it would be.
And now, the come down. I’m still on holidays but back into writing/lots-of-work-to-do mode. But feeling so incredible emotionally drained right now. Words aren’t flowing and I just want to lie on the beach and listen to music and cry and sleep.
New and regular posts soonish. Right now, need to find some peace of mind.
Hope you had a great New Year!
It’s almost 2am. Finally about to sleep after doing a bit of writing, researching, and Milo drinking. And a bit of reading of Stella Magazine‘s December issue, which I received yesterday - it is gorgeous! The issue also happens to feature an essay I wrote on the Manus Asylum Seeker Processing Centre agreement between PNG and Australia. Page 62-64. Yes.
And I just took a couple of “Selfies”, because everyone in this house is asleep, and I recently discovered what a “Selfie” is. Am somewhat of a luddite, you see:
Alright, seriously need to sleep I’m about to pass out on this keyboard.
I don’t know about you, but I had a lovely 21st December 2012. And if you didn’t, I hope you got whatever guidance you needed to get through that moment.
Saw the pic below this morning and it perfectly encapsulates what my spiritually-inclined friends and I are aiming for these days Next post very soon… about a very lucrative and experimental mining project. Stay tuned.
What on earth am I doing being awake at this hour? On my holidays? I awoke from hunger, too. And now I want more to eat. I don’t know what is going on with this body…
It’s becoming increasingly important to me to reconnect with my cultural, ancestral roots, as my parents – my only link to these roots now – are getting older. The Volcanic island home of my forebears is rapidly changing, and my cousins (on my mother’s side – it’s a matrilineal society) have done the hard work in order to register our common traditional lands under law. Meanwhile, I am literally just beginning to sense how much the complex, multi-layered spiritual and cultural legacy of my people was eroded by European colonialism and enforced Christian conversion (which eradicated many Indigenous spiritual practices). Now, I will never be the person to say that the colonisation of Papua New Guinea was all bad – what happened happened, and everything that came before made this moment – and my FREEDOM – possible. I love where I am, and being who I am, right now. Nonetheless, I know it robbed my people, the Tolai people of Rabaul, East New Britain, unnecessarily of some traditions and practices that were enriching and beautiful.
I know this because my friend artist Lisa Hilli, also of Tolai descent, is currently doing a fascinating research project within the Australia Museum on Tolai Breastplates, being mentored by Yvonne Carrillo – the Pacific Cultural Collection Officer from the Australia Museum in Sydney. Lisa is going through really old records, unearthing documents and photographs that haven’t seen the light of day in quite some time. Many of the artefacts that she has re-discovered my own parents have never heard of – for example, they didn’t even know we made breastplates (both my parents were raised in the Methodist Church). A lot of these things – and the spirituality that made them significant to the people who created them – were likely banned by the Colonizers (the Germans, and afterwards the Commonwealth).
I’m fascinated rather than angered by this rediscovery of unknown artefacts, because I believe that spirituality is never “lost” – it cannot be. Rather, we gravitate to streams that speak to us. For example, I have my own very individual/universal/eclectic sense of spirituality. But I also feel a strong connection to my maternal grandfather, who was a deeply benevolent, Christian Methodist Minister, and my great-maternal grandfather, who was widely known and feared as a Sorcerer (one who died in spectacular circumstances – he was sitting in a canoe fishing in the Rabaul Harbour in 1937 and was literally exploded/expelled into the air by an underwater volcanic eruption… a fitting way for a sorcerer to go out). Both forebears embodied different energies in their lives, and the Storyteller in me is getting more and more curious about them, the societies they grew up in, and the culture/society that preceded both… pre-European Rabaul. The great unknown.
Unearthing these stories and histories is going to be a lifelong personal project/self-education for me (because that’s how long it’s going to take, with my schedule!). I’m going to start with recent known political and societal history, as well as family histories, and will be recording interviews with my parents, as well as documenting in hard copy the mental maps older Tolai women (including my Mother) all carry: the family trees of every branch of every village. My brother has discovered a few really old books at the State Library containing compelling accounts of Rabaul in the early 20th century, including, of course, during World War II. Because of the climate and volcanic nature of Rabaul, things are constantly decaying and being overtaken by the natural environment. It is hard to picture that the things described in these history books were actually there once.
So, this is another one of my weird (previously secret) hobbies now. I’m writing about it here to hold myself to account, I guess – once you tell someone about your intent to do something it becomes harder to slack off! If I do it properly, the material I will collect and compile will be a great record and resource for my nieces and nephews to inherit, and pass on when they start having their own babies. I have no plans to have babies of my own so this is for them… and me, of course. I need to find the missing pieces of my own foundation. Despite being very individualistic, evolving and eclectic, something in me is calling me to do this.
Here are some photos I found on the internet of Rabaul. One of the things that totally pisses me off is that as much as people bragged about the beauty and symmetry of Rabaul town before the 1994 twin volcanic eruption, no one, it seems, ever took any decent high-def photographs!!! Somewhere in the world, someone is hoarding the good ones in their private collections… I must track down these people…
[Rabaul has many volcanoes, and the harbour itself is a caldera - my ancestors certainly picked a hot spot to settle down in. I call it "jack and the beanstalk" land, because the soil is extremely fertile - you could throw seeds out the window and have a plant growing there in a month, no kidding. In 1994, two volcanoes, Tavurvur & Vulcan - the latter being on and near my mothers village - errupted, a few months before our family holiday. My sister was living and working in Rabaul with her fiance at the time, and went through the experience of evacuation, staying in makeshift care centres, etc. as did all my other relatives. My sister still lives & works there, with her family... who will be arriving here in Melbourne tomorrow!!! The '94 family holiday was interesting to say the least - Tavurvur was - and is - still errupting daily, so we were sweeping ash off the verandah every morning and evening and experiencing after-quakes. You'll notice in every photo of Rabaul, Tavurvur expelling ash and smoke. It hasn't stopped billowing crap since 1994, but the people just carry on with their lives... they're used to having an active volcano over them.]
Despite my intention to write about politics in this post, life is throwing me experiences related unambiguously to writing for performance at the moment… so I’m going to go with that for now.
Back in April I pretty much let go of any active intention to be a scriptwriter (even though I’m still a part-timer in a Screenwriting course). In fact, I let go of all intentions to be anything other than a Woman who was able to just… be. (If you know the backstory, you know that this was a hard enough goal. I got issues, man). I reached a point where absolutely nothing seemed to be worthy of effort, and where the only thing that truly mattered to me was finding a state of complete peace and divine love within. Success for me became about nurturing my connection to Spirit – everything else felt fleeting and meaningless. I STILL feel that, even as I pursue goals in the world. That is the perspective through which I view everything now. My #1 priority is sorted – I couldn’t care less about “making it”… I want a soulful life.
Without realising it, I had essentially renounced the world, and had let go of attachment to any of my dreams… including the dream to be a scriptwriter.
Yet, the moment I did that – completely let go of all ambition to attain anything, and surrendered to the great unknown, I felt my life flowing again, in completely unexpected ways. I can’t really explain it better than that. Opportunities came without effort. I encountered people, places and experiences out of the blue that supported completely, and at the completely right time (dharma), my desperately needed healing and evolution as an artist and a Woman. I felt myself being drawn along a new creative path. And all the while, peace, intuitive guidance, and divine love within – my true, inner home – sustained me. 2012 was and is a magnificent year.
And so, a 9-year cycle of blocks, debilitating self-doubt and absolutely necessary self-healing/clearing of karmic bullshit came to an END. My heart is clear, and I’ve started writing my first full length play – in preparation for a PlayWriting Australia development program I’ve been accepted into for 2013 (an incredible and much needed blessing I am hugely grateful for). Gratitude aside, recently it has dawned on me the effort that will be required to produce the quality I want to hit, on what is already proving to be a pretty painful (but cathartic) play to write. Trying to write a scene recently, I felt out of my depth. Then I started to panic. Then I remembered the lesson of the year: “let go… trust.” And then, internally, I did just that.
I have learned that, for me, when I fully let go of wanting, what needs to happen in my life, happens, and the answers I need do in fact come. It makes no friggin sense… but good shit happens.
And it did. A few days later, I was given two great experiences that essentially provided all the solutions I needed for that intense scene, and slew the self-doubt demon. One of these experiences came to me last night. I was invited by friend/actor Marie to accompany her to her Melbourne Actors Lab session in St Kilda, and it was an illuminating experience, for many reasons. The Melbourne Actors Lab provides a space where actors can experiment and develop their own voice, whilst focusing on Meisner, Strasberg and Adler techniques. The session was led by Peter Kalos, and the man actually knows his stuff. I observed him being brilliant at guiding the actors with really specific yet simultaneously open-ended critiques to push them in the direction of their truth for their characters.
I didn’t really know what to expect from the session, and I ended up staying there from 7pm – 12am (no kidding). The actors do 40 minutes of relaxation, followed by 40 minutes of sensory work. 20 minutes of character work then follows, followed by scene work. What I saw was just the scene work! I’m completely fascinated by the process of embodying a character and fleshing out beats, so this was really like porn for me. The time flew. Marie said I came on a good evening – the various scenes worked on were pretty intense, sexual, confronting, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Some actors were on game and some were not… a couple were mesmerising. Peter will stop scenes to discuss things with the actors when necessary and give feedback at the end too. It felt like a really safe space for these creative people, and I appreciate that (they made me feel super welcome, too). These techniques are not for pussies, so a safe space certainly helps.
I gained a lot from Peter’s guidance to the actors, which miraculously gave me direct solutions to the script problems I’ve been having – I might as well have asked him my questions directly! Before scene work commenced, he also took a moment to talk to them about the importance of “feeding” yourself as an artist, to sustain you along your journey. I’ve spent the last three years learning that lesson on my own – of discovering what truly makes me come alive (Spirituality, Culture, Art, Activism!) and using it to “feed” me, guide me, support myself as I pursue a goal that even I admit is crazy. This is even more so the case for those who feel compelled to act. If there is nothing else but an obsessive desire to WIN jobs going on in their lives, depression and alcoholism is almost a foregone conclusion. Everyone needs to feed their souls, not merely to avoid mental collapse, but, I would add, to ensure their art is coming from the most pure place within them. I have a theory that this imbues performances with extra power. You can tell when someone is ONE with they do.
There was one more thing I took away from the session – I had an epiphany, of sorts, about the kind of writer I am and want to develop into. I feel horribly out of place, inept, and frankly pissy in my writing for screen classes, yet am at ease when watching, being taught by or working with actors – as I have experienced with PlayWriting Australia. And I now realise why: I approach writing like an actor approaches the creation of a character. When I’m writing a scene I don’t see/hear lines… I see facial expressions. Body language. Feel emotions. I see in my head all of the little intricacies of tone of voice and gesture that inform a viewing audience of the subtext behind and beyond the lines (which are quite often irrelevant). So, in (the very near) future, I very much want to collaborate closely with actors to develop scripts – be an “actor’s writer”, if you will. Maybe, even, eventually, a director… maybe…
In any case, as always, I let go of the outcome and surrender myself to the universe
Right now, I’m just enjoying this leisurely journey.
BIG DESIGN MARKET & MARYANN TALIA PAU | BIRDS OF PARADISE EXHIBITION | MARIAA RANDALL ‘HALF’ DANCE PROJECT
I really feel like I’m in summer holiday mode now. Since I experience everything from the inside out, ‘summer holiday mode’ basically means that my blood has slowed down and I am the little book of CALM (though my “work” schedule is pretty much the same). The wonderful thing about being inwardly centred is that the most familiar things are experienced as magnificent. I could be buying groceries and feel like I’m in a tropical oasis
Got a couple of important things to post about before the new year (NDIS, mental health system, etc) but in this quickie post I want to share just a few of the magnificent things that were a part of my week, in no particular order. If you get a chance to, do take yourself along to experience them too.
So, Yesterday afternoon I hung out with a sista and visited another who had a stall at the BIG DESIGN MARKET (finishes Sunday):
My friend/weaver/Goddess Maryann Talia Pau‘s stall :
Always love hanging out with Sistas.
But the other reason I enjoyed the market so much is because I am currently absorbing design inspiration. The indoor/outdoor area extension on our house will likely be completed over summer, and it will include my new office! Rolling around the building site this week, I started picturing what this new centre of my universe might look like.
I do know that I want the space to inspire me creatively, be uncluttered and spare, yet still contain some bursts of colour (for the positive psychological effect). I will likely achieve this atmosphere with colour and light. And my need for colour and sensitivity to lighting means that I get totally turned on when I see something like this:
Yep. Lighting fetish, since ’98.
My preference is for really simple (even plain) furniture, combined with just a few high quality colourful objects – especially, these days, if they have spiritual and Pacifika/Papua New Guinean symbolism. So I’m thinking designing my own lamps/lighting for the space, as well as creating indigenous art (or acquiring some from the many talented Pacific ceramicists/weavers/makers and visual artists in networks) is the way to go.
New office means I will also finally get to renew and re-do my bedroom (and get a new bed). Strolling around Big Design, I found a lot of inspiration (fabrics, textiles, etc) for that project, as well as a few lamp designers (Phoebe Lamps and Patturn Studio) who added fuel to my imagination in terms of what I could use lighting wise. I want to incorporate Papua New Guinean craft techniques I’m now learning, and designs, in the space. Making things with my hands gets me out of my head, and as a Writer I need that to balance – I tend to live in my head too much.
Other than inspiration, I picked up just two objects, that I actually need. I acquired a new iPad (i.e. workday) bag on sale, from Only Midge/Attic (every other day I’ll be carrying bilums only). Strangely the hue of this bag seems to really compliment all the purple & purplish-pink things in my wardrobe:
I also got a wide-brimmed hat for my summer – I LOVE IT! Comfortably accommodates my Afro boof head and successfully shielded me from the Sun all Friday (and will today as well):
I’m going to wear this daily this season. Hat is from Truffaux. Hat tip, Truffaux!
In the evening, we saw this affecting, poetic piece of dance theatre – Master of Animateuring Dance Project : ‘HA LF’. Invited by dancer Mariaa Randall, the creator behind this (we had wanted Mariaa to do a performance with another talented dancer at the So Fukin Native Exhibition opening, but alas, something came up).
And lastly, I wish I had photos of this, because this is a stunning exhibition - Birds of Paradise at the Melbourne Museum, running until 3 February. Me and a bunch of friends + community mob + my Mama were invited to the opening tour this week, and I will be going back soon to take it in properly. Has also generated a bunch of article ideas, and I met once again a ukelele teacher/vanilla importer/fascinating young arts practitioner who was a fellow student in a bilum making workshop I recently did at COLOUR BOX STUDIO (by the way – some of the designers featured at CBS, including the interior designer of Colour Box Studio, have stalls at the Big Design Market too).
So, if you want to slot some more things in this weekend, check out any of the above.
Peace and love Back very soon with a new topic and new post.
Looking forward to Léuli Eshraghi’s solo show this week! A solo show of his own paintings! La manuia…
A sleepy, late happy Sunday to you I was rather low on energy today – my body was telling me to take it easy and refill my energy reserves (and recover from an irritating and unexpected hangover) so I’ve just been reading, listening to music and weaving a Christmas gift for one of my nieces. And reflecting on things. Hence this post.
Latest news is I got married this week. No, wait… that came out wrong.
I acquired a symbol of the one thing I am truly, truly married to in life… and will be until I return to dust. A necklace. A special, handcrafted necklace.
I don’t own or wear a lot of jewellery – minimal makeup, comfortable clothing and a light perfume is my daily preference. But I decided to acquire this particular necklace to wear, as a reminder to myself of what I am now aware is – and have simultaneously chosen to be – my #1 priority in life.
Something I cannot yet completely articulate, but will spend the rest of my life living…. It’s the one thing that makes me truly happy, and lucky, however unlucky my circumstances may appear from the outside:
Some say that 28 years is the age when you truly become an adult, and come into your own. Individuate. For me this “adulthood” has manifested as an awareness, and acceptance of the perfectly imperfect Woman I am. A clarity about the way I wish to live my life, how to be, and what I am choosing to evolve into.
Since I am genuinely too tired right now to try to explain in my own voice what I mean by that (life stuff has drained me of all energy this week, sorry) I thought instead I’d share a few ideas that point in the direction of that evolution. Just a few… and just the direction. (You would have seen some of them on this blog before. I will expand in future posts in one way or another).
Change from within:
“To straighten the crooked, you must first do a harder thing – straighten yourself.”
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
“Analysis brings no curative powers in its train; it merely makes us conscious of the existence of an evil, which, oddly enough, is consciousness.”
A Whole Perception:
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.”
“The affirmation of simplicity arises from the recognition that very little is needed to live well – that abundance is a state of mind.”
Ego versus Eco:
“The human brain now holds the key to our future. We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected. That is our home.”
“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions […] from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”
…and my personal dharma…
“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.”
“Story talent: the creative conversion of life itself to a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience.”
“Art is spirituality in drag.”
Overheard at an exhibition opening.
“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“By letting go it all gets done.”
Though it is after midnight on Monday (early morning), this is a Sunday post, as I wrote it at a quarter to 12 – so technically I kept my word! I’m going to try to get a good nights rest now, eat a hearty breakfast, and do a solid cardio workout in the morning. This lethargy shit doesn’t sit well with me.
Back soon, hopefully when ENERGISED again.
Gratitude to David Weitzman for my “marriage” necklace.
The piece that follows was written very recently by a dear friend of mine, facing one of the greatest challenges of their life. Whether they realise it or not, being this honest is incredibly brave, and I am immensely proud of them for finding the courage to face their truth in this way, so they can begin the hard work of recovery and healing. [Author’s name withheld on request – please respect copyright.]
Getting help for depression and anxiety after the love of your life has already left you is kind of like waking up from a coma and finding out your best friend has died.
My girlfriend left me not long ago, after three months of slowly watching the person she loves become an emotionally isolated stranger. The most heartbreaking moments must have come when my love for her managed to show itself – small flashes that reminded her of the person that was in there, somewhere. Little moments. She was walking barefoot and came to some broken glass; I picked her up and carried her across. She held on to me like a koala. She laughed in my ear. For that beautiful moment, she was happy.
She left me two weeks later. She had no choice.
There were the mood swings. Can’t find a food storage container? Why yes, I will lose my fucking mind over it, thankyouverymuch. I will check and re-check every cupboard in the house. Then I’ll turn around and speak to you like nothing just happened. I won’t understand what you were upset about. Your eyes will be pleading with me, searching for the person you know. And I won’t comprehend the stress that I’ve been putting you under. Because in that head space – in the grip of this awful, invisible illness – nothing is about you. It’s all about me.
The first week after she decided to leave, I went through flashes of acting out like a wounded animal – being cold towards her, lashing out, emptying all her possessions from the house I was simultaneously trying to argue was still hers, wailing that she never truly loved me. But deep down, I knew she wasn’t leaving because she didn’t love me. She was leaving because she did. Knowing this, I also realised that something had to be incredibly wrong. What could push someone who cares about me so much, who loves me to their core – what could push that person to decide that she couldn’t do it anymore?
Within four days of her leaving, I had my first therapy session.
The cruel irony of it all is that the better I start to feel within myself – as I slowly start to emerge from the deep fog that had set in my brain – the worse I start to feel. Because I can feel. The loss of my girlfriend has gone from a source of anger, of irrational feelings of betrayal, to a total, unrelenting, unbearable ache. My indifference has become an endless longing. The thoughts meander through my head in an endless drone.
What is she doing right now? This would make her laugh. How is she feeling today? Did she have a good day at work? Does she still think about me? Will she ever be able to trust me again? Does she still love me?
The endless drone goes on. Again, it’s the little moments that hurt the most. Every time I see a yellow car, I feel a little jolt in my heart. A reminder to me that, even when I was lost in myself, I was still with her. But she couldn’t feel it. She couldn’t see it in my eyes.
Not long ago I asked her to take me back. Seeing the difference in me, she desperately wanted to, but couldn’t – she was too scared that things would go back to the way they were. With hindsight, it was too soon for me to suggest any kind of reconciliation. I need to become strong on my own. There is another factor – that while I became the emotionally isolated stranger, she developed feelings for someone else. As much as it hurts, I can’t hold it against her. The person she fell in love with had vanished.
Seeing that person re-emerge after losing all hope must be equally heartbreaking. I imagine the questions that she might be asking herself.
Where were you? Why couldn’t you see what was happening? How could you not know how much you were hurting me?
And maybe the worst question of all: Why did you have to come back – why did you have to remind me of the person you really are - when it could mean I have to lose you all over again?
It’s entirely understandable that she wants to protect herself from that pain; it’s also entirely understandable that she wants to protect me from the harsh reality that, when it comes down to it, I drove her to someone else. But for me, protecting myself from the pain isn’t the point. The point is feeling it, simply because I can.
Allowing myself to sink back to that place of nothingness is a tempting escape from this constant feeling of heartache and loss. But it isn’t an option. The person she met and fell in love with was confident; independent; funny; creative; energetic; passionate. That person lived for each moment. That person was fearless. That person will always be worth saving.
And now the hard work starts.
As always, all rights reserved by the Author. If you wish to contact the Author, or re-print any part of this piece, please send an email to me at email@example.com, and I will discreetly pass on your message to my mate.
Alternatively, leave a message in the comments section below.
New post from me next Sunday. Off to a gathering of family and friends… and what a wonderfully warm day for it
One woman is killed EVERY WEEK in Australia by a current or former partner.
ONE IN THREE women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives.
And domestic and family violence is the major cause of homelessness for women and their children, and a recognised form of child abuse.
These facts alone are enough to make any decent human feel moved to do something to CHANGE these unfortunate facts of our nation’s life.
When you consider, too, that violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion annually, a figure that is expected to rise to $15.6 billion within the decade (according to the KPMG 2009 Time For Action Report), it becomes clearer still, that responding to prevent male violence against women should be amongst the highest priorities for the nation.
GOOD MEN CARE.
White Ribbon is an organisation that works to prevent male violence against women. One of the greatest things about it is that it is a MALE-LED CAMPAIGN – because good men abhor such violence. Good men do not and will not sit on the sidelines while those they love are at risk of harm. They do not commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. Good men also recognize when they have been wrong in relation to violence against women, and commit themselves to reforming first themselves, then the world around them. White Ribbon believes in the capacity of the individual to change, and to encourage change in others.
White Ribbon in Australia is led by thousands of male Ambassadors who, through living the White Ribbon Oath, act as role models in their communities, promoting and embodying positive attitudes and behaviours towards women. They lead the campaign by effectively being the change they want to see, supporting a combination of awareness-raising campaigns, community events and primary prevention initiatives with schools, universities, workplaces and sporting bodies.
Through these, White Ribbon works to end the attitudes and behaviours which lead to violence against women. White Ribbon is Australia’s only national, male-led, violence prevention campaign. And women also support White Ribbon, through their roles as White Ribbon Champions.
WHITE RIBBON DAY.
The United Nations General Assembly declared November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with the now-iconic white ribbon as its symbol, in 1999. So the 25 of November is White Ribbon Day – a day to raise awareness about male violence against women. All around this day, events are held Australia-wide, to do precisely that.
You can find out what these events are, and get involved yourself, by clicking HERE.
In Melbourne TODAY, 23 November 2012, the annual Walk Against Family Violence will take place at Melbourne Town Hall, from 2:30pm to 3:00pm. Support services, sports stars, celebrities, the Victoria Police, good citizens and Women with Disabilities Victoria (see below) will be taking part.
And earlier in the day, at 10:00am (and running until 2:00pm) White Ribbon Day Activities started in Fed Square, including the 1 MILLION STARS TO END VIOLENCE public art project, which was conceived and led by friend Maryann Talia Pau [Read more here]. You can find her near the main stage until festivities end, and participate in a community project all about peace and light. All welcome.
Congratulations to Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), whose Annual General Meeting and DVD Launch I attended yesterday afternoon. The organisation is entering a new era, with the retirement of stalwart Board Members (and truly great Women/disability activists/personal feminist icons): Margaret Stevens, Delia Portlock, Sharon Granek, and Margaret Bayly. Also retiring: Chair of the Board Tricia Malowney.
One of Tricia’s many accomplishments was successfully participating in lobbying for much needed amendments to Family Violence legislation in Victoria, related to people with disabilities and their carers. I had the privilege of accompanying her on one of her lobbying meetings years ago with a Member of Parliament in Parliament House, and it was an invaluable learning experience. The work these women do, behind the scenes, in public, in meetings, as advocates for the dignity of the most vulnerable women in our community, is just remarkable. I feel lucky to know and to have known them.
PLUS the educational film for medical practitioners to educate them on communicating effectively and respectfully with women who have disabilities turned out great! Congratulations to Sarah Barton of Fertile Films and all the women who participated in its production, from conception to birth – especially Lauren Hayes, now moving on to new pastures, who did a brilliant job of coordinating meetings and film shoots. My thanks to Keran Howe, as always, for letting me be involved in the project.
You can find out more about this organisation HERE.
*All photos copyright Amie Batalibasi unless otherwise specified.
Amie Batalibasi is one fearless Woman. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll recognise the name – the prolific freelance filmmaker/Community Arts facilitator was my Pacific Stories producer, with the equally fearless Lia Pa’apa’a (PWWC). This year, in an effort to liberate a spare room and find an appropriate space to set up a new film studio/office, she came across a rental property in her beloved ‘hood of Footscray: 236 Nicholson Street.
236 Nicholson Street has a bit of a history. And by “a bit”, I mean a lot of crazy shit has gone down at 236 Nicholson Street. Prior to Amie finding the place, the building was the home of Tattoos Plus, a tattoo parlour (of course). In another incarnation, it was a Goth club, complete with sex room and swing. It is next door to the run-down Belgravia Hotel (built in 1870), which has its own crazy history (read: fight club), and 236 has an entire floor that is inaccessible, because the staircase leading up to it was removed and boarded up years ago.
It is amazing to think about the history of this unassuming building, and how it fits in with the history of the area. But despite its unassuming façade, Amie sensed that history, and the future potential of the space. Though it was the search for the perfect studio that led her there, it was in fact another dream that came to the fore upon inspecting the premises: what if, she pondered, she could open up a space run by and for ARTISTS in Melbourne – a supportive space where makers could pursue, perform, hone, sell and share their craft? A place where the ethos of COMMUNITY was truly a guiding and empowering principle?
And that’s when the fearlessness kicked in. In October, Amie acquired the keys to the joint, with conditions – the biggest one being that she has only a year to manifest this dream – to fill No. 236 with artists and creativity – before it is redeveloped into a “12 Storey Mixed Use Development” by some corporation. Knowing this, she signed the lease, and resolved to make it happen, for no personal financial profit.
Are you familiar with the term “crazy awesome”? I believe this is the very definition of that term. Finally have a reason to use it in a sentence.
The place as it was when she acquired those keys needed A LOT of work. So she put out a call to the artists in her circles and beyond in Melbourne, for their help to manifest the dream. Thankfully, many answered: over 6 weeks and weekends of volunteer working bees, the space was transformed. Floors were swept. Rubbish was cleared. Holes were fixed. Things were painted, nailed and stripped. Even the old piercing room was torn down! Thus began an extraordinary and semi-intentional exercise in urban regeneration.
Of course, an Artists Run Space needs artists to run it – free-thinking and competent creative people + art managers with “outside the box” ideas – and ART. Once again, out of the void of possibility, they came forth too… with ideas to boot. I spent most of the meeting pictured below being a fly on the wall, listening and learning and taking down copious notes on what all these impressive people were coming out with.
First bit of business for Colour Box Studio was Amie’s own idea: a POP-UP SHOP [currently open!], to introduce the transforming space to the public, as well as give talented and entrepreneurial ARTISTS, DESIGNERS & CRAFT MAKERS a chance to showcase their wares from November 7th to Christmas – and to run workshops if they wanted to. Artists that came forward to be involved included: AACUTE, ABLE AND GAME, AK-ADORNMENTS, AMBETTE, BRITLYN SIMONE JEWELLERY, CERAMIC RELIEF, CHARLOTTE FILSHIE JEWELLERY, HANNAKIN, LEAF UGS, LITTLE BUBALISHKA, MILK AND COOKIES, NEW MODEL BEAUTY QUEEN, NORTH ST. FLOWERS, PACIFIC WOMENS WEAVING CIRCLE, PRETTY WAK, RED BIRD HONEWARES, STUDIO 941, TWOTREEHOUSE, AND WOULD BE GOOD. Wow.
Volunteers once again helped transform the space for the pop-up shop and launch (viva community!), and some magnificent people donated shop fittings.
Artist/interior designer Christina, along with Jon and Ben (who together were the shop interior design team) also volunteered her skills to essentially set up and build the interior of the shop (which looks sensational):
A great poster promoting the Pop-Up Shop and its launch – a launch that featured a fashion show and performances, among other things – was created by talented Art Director Tony Tran. The posters also featured the new Colour Box Studio logo: created by the brilliant Jacob Tolo of Tologata Designs (and Blak Dot Gallery):
Right up to the POP-UP shop launch eve, volunteers gathered in preparation:
Finally, where there was once literally nothing but a dilapidated building destined for demolition, emerged all of this:
Photos below by Rachel Main (copyright Rachel Main):
And this really is just the beginning. An Artist Run Space needs creative people to USE IT, manage it, keep it running. And there are so many parts of the space that could be used in very creative ways. Example: this alleyway with visible wall space, to the side of No. 236, is just begging to be filled/covered/et cetera with public art:
In fact, one piece has already been “installed”:
So. Keeping in mind how this venture came to be in the first place, are YOU possibly in possession of some fearless ideas, and the dedication to see them through to fruition, with the support of Colour Box Studio? Or, perhaps, are you just looking for a space to do what you want to do, creatively? Or do you just want to collaborate in something truly inspired by a love of art and community? Whatever the case may be, Colour Box Studio Director Amie Batalibasi wants to hear from you!
The website features information on how to get involved, make contact, and everything that is happening at Colour Box Studio. Currently the Pop-Up Shop is OPEN for business, AK-ADORNMENTS continues it’s residency in-shop, and workshops are in full swing (last night I learned how to make a bilum with Aunty Vicky Kinai – so pleased!!!).
THE WEBSITE IS HERE: http://colourboxstudio.com/
On a personal note, this has been a week of phenomenally good news that I am profoundly grateful for I can’t discuss it yet, but the next 12 months are going to be creatively challenging – I guess I’m ready to write now, because opportunity is flowing in that direction. There is much work to be done (inside and out), and not having a FT job still makes me anxious as heck. Nonetheless, am endeavouring to keep in consciousness one of the most important lessons learned this year: to LET GO, and JUST GO WITH IT.
Spiritual wanderlust for the win The one aspect of this little life that is consistently wonderful.
I’ve attended a lot of art events, and seen a lot of plays, this year, for educational purposes. Everything from Aidan Fennessy’s The National Interest to Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Motherfucker with the Hat. Not so much live music, though. But the weekend before last, I attended The Harvest Music Festival, in the manicured grounds of the Werribee Mansion. And for the second year of the festival’s existence, it was a very enjoyable day – minus all the teething problems of last year.
Back in 2011 when I blogged about Harvest [in this post HERE] I said I would write about environmentally friendly music festivals “some time in 2012”. So here it is: a post about a few things I have learned about making music festivals green.
Energy explosions: Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, Coachella, et cetera.
There is no doubt – music festivals expend a lot of energy, and produce a lot of waste. Many festivals, however, have been trying to reduce the environmental impact of us indulgent, spoilt music fans in the West, in various ways. The location and season inevitably dictate the nature of the measures. I’ll discuss one festival that has introduced fairly obvious ones. Despite being massive and well established, I think it’s still interesting to compare these measures to ones you have possibly witnessed and encountered at Australian festivals. Or, perhaps, to think about their absence.
The Glastonbury Festival in the UK, one of the largest music festivals in the world, has long championed environmental issues. Today all festival programmes come in 100% organic unbleached cotton bags, printed with vegetable dyes, and official tees are printed using water-based (non-pvc) inks. Only compostable or re-useable plates and cutlery are permitted. Cleaners use eco-friendly cleaning products (i.e. non-petroleum based) for toilets, and all traders are encouraged to use eco-friendly cleaning products in their kitchens.
A lot of the waste generated by the festival is recycled: cans, glass, paper, electrical and electronic equipment, wood and organic waste are separated and recycled “as locally as possible” (the Fuji Rock Festival outdoes all in the recycling department, though). 1,300 recycling volunteers make Glastonbury’s initiative viable – 1,200 of them work for a ticket, and the others for a nominated charity like WaterAid, Kiota, or Bhopal Medical Appeal.
And the festival is turning to the sun to meet energy needs (as we all should). So far solar power and green technology is being used for three stage areas, and all cafes, stages and stalls above the old railway line in the Green Fields are run on wind or solar power, as are the showers. They have expanded their solar capacity, too – Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival organiser, installed 200 new solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of a shed at his Worthy Farm this year (a smaller installation than the 1,100 panels that were installed in autumn 2010).
Other initiatives have included the introduction of biodegradable tent pegs to offer festival campers, as an alternative to metal pegs many festival goers had been using that endangered local cows. Only Fairtrade tea, coffee, sugar and hot chocolate are on sale (expect a future post on what Fairtrade means, in practice). In an effort to reduce road deliveries, reservoirs have been built to store water and food (all of the festival water will apparently come from the mains in future, and the water is heavily monitored and quality tested twice a day).
Being enormously successful, Glastonbury have been able to invest money into local sewage plants, so that Festival sewage waste can now be processed within a 12.8km radius of the site, and gives to green organisations – Glastonbury claim to be the world’s biggest single regular donor to Greenpeace. Finally for this post, they PLANT TREES – over 10,000 native trees and hedge plants in the local environment, with other initiatives to maintain a high level of bio-diversity in the area. Overachiever.
There you have it – just some initiatives to think about. I’m certainly going to make myself more aware now about the festivals I attend, and the measures they are taking to lighten the environmental impact of our emptying of wallets and fleeting enjoyment. Certainly there are things we can all do as individuals to not leave behind a bloody mess. My disability may be fuel inefficient (taxi rides, yo) but I can at the very least car-pool, re-use bottles, and put waste products in their appropriate place.
That is, if I can access the festivals in the first place – expect another post comparing festivals on that issue.
Back to Harvest.
This year Harvest featured U.S. acts like Mike Patton, Beck, Santigold and the U.K’s Crazy P - I was mostly excited about Beck, having never seen him live before (last year it was the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mercury Rev and Portishead who drew me in/sent me away satisfied). Unlike last year, where I was awkwardly “danced with” by a lady in a kaftan and asked if I had drugs by some fellow who had clearly already taken some, I had a heart-to-heart with a lady in a kaftan who was high. It’s like the two previous “WTF” moments morphed into one this year. Something new though – a “What the HEY! Is that okay?” moment – I spotted a young man proudly carrying a Papua New Guinean bilum. I thought that was cool, though. Not so cool… man wearing Native American headgear. Reminded me of THIS & THIS.
GREEN-wise, there is room for improvement – although carpooling was advocated, standard recycling bins available, and free water stations (patrons were encouraged to bring an empty reusable bottle). Harvest will likely turn into an annual tradition for me – such an easy weekend of tunes, art performances, and (so far) “civilised” crowds, in one of the most elegant places in Melbourne. The second last act I caught for the night was Icelandic band Sigur Rós – I had never seen them live before, but they left many as moved as Portishead had the year prior. I was also impressed by their fans, who parted like the Red Sea to let me roll right up in front of the stage, centre (wheelchair perks!)
The ‘Great Lawn’ stage where they (and Beck) performed was enormous, situated in front of the Werribee Mansion. It was used cinematically by the Icelanders – massive, filmic projections cued to the music, with complementary lighting effects, and a mini-orchestra. The experience was… moving, ethereal, and majestic, of course (it’s Sigur Rós). I’ll put it this way – the guy next to me said “…I’m gonna cry”. I think that pretty much sums up the experience ;P
Finished off the night with Santigold. Special thanks to the security staff, who were angels to me, and to Mzrizk for pushing my tired ass across the Big Lawn so I could see Beck, then went away, and came back, squeezing through the tight crowd to deliver to me a spiced rum and some swag. TOP lady.
I’m sure I will be going again next year – how could I not when it’s so near my ‘hood? Even though I am utterly broke now, and life is a glorious mess. At this point in the journey I don’t care I feel so present. Am enormously proud of myself for coming so far in one year, in terms of stopping all the negative mind-chatter – that voice in my head sounds mostly like a really great, supportive friend these days, and my understanding of (and faith in) life, in the universe, is stronger than ever. Focusing now on the work I have to do and enjoying Victoria on a budget with my whole family, and friends, these holidays. Next festival to attend will be in January, interstate… more on that when the time comes.
Just managed to have the first genuinely relaxing & angst-free weekend in a long time (I needed it). Got some Christmas shopping done, caught up with family, chilled with my Sistas, Mama and Sister-in-law at the once-a-month Weaving Circle, & visited a new artist run space I will write about very soon. Also leisurely attended to some household/life to-do items I’ve tenaciously ignored for months. I can see my desk now!!!
Just a quick update… I’m busy working towards a deadline this weekend, which is why I’m up before 8am on a Saturday (body is screaming “f*** you! This is unnatural!”) But mind is just so incredibly grateful I have this particular creative deadline. So, mind is assuaging body with fine Papua New Guinean coffee – my best friend today.
The update is this: Spring cleaning time at Just The Messenger. I’ve tidied up, added, and organised links, and updated the ‘About this Blog‘ page. It now reads:
My name is Pauline Vetuna, and this is my personal blog.
I am an INFJ. An aspiring writer with an interest in playwriting, storytelling, Pacific & Indigenous Contemporary Art, Community arts, politics, society, human rights, sustainability, philosophy, and ‘enlightenment’. Ideas are what interest me.
Physically, I live with a disability (very incomplete quadriplegia and incomplete paraplegia – long story), and am gradually overcoming a lifetime of various psycho-social ‘quirks’. Perhaps because of this, healing, psychology, and mindfulness applied to reduce suffering and maximise wellness of mind, body, and spirit are also topics of interest.
I’m also an Australian and an immigrant living in a diverse neighbourhood in the ‘burbs, having been born in Papua New Guinea, and migrating with my family shortly after. Melbourne has been home sweet home ever since. About 27 years.
As I get older, connecting to my Indigenous Pacific roots, and marrying this consciousness to my identity as an individual within a Western context, is becoming more important in my life. Marrying the two isn’t necessarily easy, though. I have come to see that identity and alienation are intimately linked.
On Just The Messenger, this obscure corner of the internet, I write about all of these things, time permitting. I publish my thoughts and lessons that I learn here, on the off chance that someone will stumble upon something they connect to every now and then. Amazingly, this does happen from time to time.
As for the tagline, “There’s a Middle Way”: the topics here may vary, but there is a connecting theme, a spirit running through every thing I write. Please read ‘ABOUT THE MESSENGER’ and especially ‘PHILOSOPHY’ for more insight.
That’s about it. Thank you for reading this far, and warm regards.
© 2010-2012 Pauline Vetuna, All Rights Reserved. If you wish to copy or use anything on this site, please seek my permission by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back with a REAL post soon. In the meantime, have a look at Just The Messenger’s colour makeover, reflecting my עץ החיים and love of rainbows (…and Skittles):
Last week I posted about the visual arts exhibition I co-curated with Léuli Eshraghi for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2012, So Fukin Native. On Saturday night, our little exhibition took out the Best Visual Art category Award for the Festival! I am ‘So Fukin’ happy for the Artists – Torika Bolatagici, Maree Clarke, Chantal Fraser, Chuck Feesago, Ben McKeown, Candice Perese, Greg Semu, Latai Taumoepeau, Kathy Cogill – for my co-curator, and for the deadliest gallery in town, Blak Dot Gallery.
Now to plan the exhibitions next incarnations This was the first time Léuli or I had ever curated an exhibition, so it has been an encouraging and uplifting experience to say the least. Looking forward to his solo show at the end of the year. Ia Manuia, my friend.
Also last week: I received my complimentary copies of Stella Magazine’s first and second issue – complimentary because I am fortunate to be a contributing writer (lots of pics below):
For the debut article (in Issue 2) I was blessed with the assignment of writing a feature on The Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle (PWWC) and interviewed one of it’s co-founders, artist Lisa Hilli – who is also one of this year’s Melbourne Festival Festival Ambassadors! [Another one of my favourites… The Melbourne Festival opened in spectacular fashion this week and finishes on 27 October 2012 – check out the festival program HERE]
Wonderful to see an interview in the first issue on dedicated PNG Disability Rights campaigner Ipul Powaseu. She is pure inspiration to me, for obvious reasons. Now Stella readers know all about her, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), and the disability rights movement in the Pacific. Additionally, the Meriblouse clad cover girl for the first issue was political candidate Jennfier Baing (endorsed by the Indigenous Peoples Party). The issue features an illuminating interview with her. Issue 2 features among others an article on education activist Patricia Diveni-Poivi and projects of the Kokoda Track Foundation. Plus a great interview series with everyday people… unique reflections on Independence.
I’m not given to hyperbole (lie) but this is the Magazine I have been longing for. Based in Port Moresby, it is a Magazine that speaks to an Indigenous Pacific Islander demographic across Oceania who are politically engaged, ethically aware, aesthetically conscious and creatively/artistically ACTIVE. Independent, pioneering people in both the home countries and in the Pacific diaspora that I know and love.
My respect and admiration goes to visionary Editor Amanda Donigi, the talented art department, and, indeed, the entire editorial and publishing team. Starting and maintaining a print publication is an extremely challenging undertaking. I feel honoured to contribute words to a magazine that on its debut has already set the bar incredibly high. Ethical style and substance. A magazine that truly respects its intelligent readers.
Think you fit that demographic?
Three words: SUPPORT YOUR MAGAZINE! Become a subscriber right HERE.
That’s all for now. My mind is mine-deep in Australian~PNG Politics research at the moment. I shall return with a fresh post when I can.
Have added a few more links to the ‘Mental Wellness’ page. I’ve also added a link to Rochelle Callahan’s blog page featuring a fantastically comprehensive list of Suicide/Survivors Resources for United States residents, which she will update regularly. Thankyou, Rochelle
Speaking of Mental Wellness, it was World Mental Health Week last week. Missed it? Don’t worry, you can educate yourself HERE. And If you do a google search on ‘World Mental Health Week’, you’ll find some fascinating articles on how Mental Health issues are addressed from Nepal to India… and everywhere else in this world of ours.
More on the continued struggle for human rights in West Papua, and Domestic and Global Politics, to come. Two nerve-wracking elections on the way……
This year I co-curated this visual art show with the wonderful Léuli Eshraghi for Melbourne Fringe Festival 2012 (open for 3 more days only! Should have posted this earlier but I’ve been terribly distracted, oy. Showing at Blak Dot Gallery, 413 Lygon Street, East Brunswick). We’ve been happy with the numbers that have filed through over the last two weeks.
This is the exhibition essay I wrote, artist bios and artist statements on the works – do have a read, as it explains everything (including the title that upset my father):
And this is a good review of the show on ArtsHub, by Melbourne based arts writer Sama Hugo-Giali:
Usually when 237 people say they are coming to your event on Facebook, you don’t expect all of them to actually show up (at least, I don’t). I was wrong. They showed up, and a few of them brought friends. I was pleased for the artists, all of whom create work that move, inspire, and make you think. The more people who see their work, the better. Alas, because of the numbers, most people were out the back alley drinking champagne (note to future self: outdoor projections for exhibitions when weather permits!).
We had planned to project one of the video works onto the large window at the front of the gallery for motorists and passers by to appreciate (an arresting work by Latai Taumoepeau & Kathy Cogill… love it when Latai takes out a machete and shaves her legs with it) but a technical hitch prevented that. Still, we had a terrific opening with DJ MzRizk on the decks all night, and a song and spoken word poetry performance from my sensitive, beautiful friend & sister Grace Vanilau, accompanied by harpist Josphine Inia (the acoustics in that small space… heavenly). Perfectly, her poetry piece actually fit our brief – so she was really the 11th artist in the exhibition.
Thankfully some of the artists exhibiting work in So Fukin Native were able to be there, including photographer/bohemian Greg Semu, who flew from Paris to bring and help install his contributions to the show the day prior. It was wonderful to finally meet Chantal Fraser and Maree Clarke after several months of internet communication!
I probably say this after everything, but putting together this show really was an incredibly valuable learning experience – one that I am immensely grateful for. 2012 has been a weird transition period (that continues). I feel scared and insecure but also excited, heading in an interesting, but still undefined, direction. But I do know this: art, expression & culture will be a big part of whatever comes next. My role is to try and stay present, keep learning, and humbly do the work.
I’ve previously written about how important and powerful storytelling is, and this is still my primary passion. But I’m now more consciously appreciating how important and enriching a vibrant arts scene is to a city, to communities, and to people’s lives… how it creates connections, as well as conversations, beauty and fun. After attending a gathering at a new ARI (Artist run space) last night in Melbourne’s West (in a former tattoo parlour… more on that later) I can see how much the arts inject life and soul into a place… it’s fascinating. And uplifting. And I want to continue supporting, co-creating, and being a part of it. Even if that means being poor for a while longer
A little photo collage below – originals from jdaphoto.com 2012
Recording and reporting incidences of suspicious activity, intimidation, abuse, or attempted violence
I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t been harassed at night. The harassment that I’ve experienced from strangers at night, in various locations in my home city and in public places, has been minimal compared to others I know. I’ve been lucky in that regard. These incidents have featured either racial vilification or sexual inappropriateness (in two instances, both). But even after these sporadic, infrequent incidents, I never properly reported or discussed them with anyone other than maybe a friend here or there. A good night’s rest and the activities of the week were enough to help me forget the discomfort, I’d chalk it down to drunk dickheads being drunk dickheads, and pretty soon I was feeling cavalier and free to move around again. Perhaps this is problematic.
Only on one occasion have I genuinely feared for my safety. Years ago I was living interstate, it was late at night, I was extremely tired and trying to get home. A man walked up beside me, then followed me a good way down a street, talking at me, asking for my name and what I was doing out that night. When I refused to engage in conversation he spoke more aggressively. He then started saying some things that indicated he may be mentally unstable, and my intuition was telling me, strongly: “DANGER”. Inwardly I started to feel stress, as I was experiencing some internal health issues at the time and knew that if I needed to I would not physically be able to run. Thankfully, a cab was parked further up the street, and so, with the man still loudly talking at me, I walked as fast I could to the cab, got inside, and got the fuck out of there.
Yet, I didn’t report it, because, of course, he hadn’t physically made contact with me. His behaviour and aggression (and in particular the things he was saying) in hindsight were worrying – the thought of that guy intimidating another person in the same way is disturbing. And even though I endeavour never to be too emotionally drawn into highly personal news stories (indeed, I absolutely recoil from such involvement… bad for the psyche and detrimental to the capacity to think objectively), seeing that CCTV footage in the Meagher case this week made me feel ill, and irrationally guilty – because of the familiarity of the scenario. Clearly, a lot of people felt that familiarity. But in my case, what would I have reported? A man who looked like this, who was wearing that, walked with me up a street, got agitated and aggressive when I wouldn’t respond to his unnerving questions, yet continued walking with me until a cab driver (to my eternal gratitude) got out of his drivers side door and spotted me heading towards his vehicle. Is that enough to report?
YES, actually, it is. I now realise. You never know how bits of information fit together. Your description of the behaviour of a person who acts in a suspicious manner, or who intimidated or threatened you in a specific location at a particular time may match the behaviour of an alleged offender in another incident you don’t even know about. It’s doubtful that I would have remembered any real details about that man’s appearance even by the time I got home (particularly as I was trying not to look at him or encourage conversation) but I knew his hair colour, the time and place, what he was wearing, and that there was a possibility this fellow was captured on security cameras in the area. And obviously I knew his behaviour – what he said, his body language. So however insignificant you think the information you have is, please, record it (to keep the details fresh) and report it, anyway. As soon as possible after it occurs. And let the Police make the judgment call on whether that information is useful.
Call Crimestoppers: 1800 333 000
The Australian Federal Police have THIS missing person’s website with profiles of missing person’s cases that have been provided by the State and Territory police – who knows where these people are, or what happened to them. Though the vast majority of people reported missing in Australia are found within a short period of time, there remains approximately 1,600 long-term missing persons - those who have been missing for more than six months. If you can, have a look… maybe you have some information that could help resolve a case.
We had a FANTASTIC and packed exhibition opening on Thursday night in Brunswick East. I will post about it soon – busy at the moment and feverish today after getting caught in the rain yesterday.
As the exhibition crowd eventually dispersed, and I saw people walking away in various states of inebriation, I felt slightly uneasy, though. Not because I’m paranoid, or think that Melbourne is populated by a shadow army of opportunistic criminals. Or that simply by walking solo on a street, either sober or not, you are putting out an invitation for unsolicited attention, or worse. But, clearly, this is an imperfect world. Sometimes it pays to err on the side of caution, and you are worth protecting.
Going home with a buddy is always more fun, anyway
Bertolt Brecht was clearly a creative genius.
The innovative German playwright, theatre director and theoretician changed the face of theatre, fundamentally shifting the expectations of his audience with his techniques – which is, to me, the hallmark of genius.
But what fascinates me about Brecht is what I think was his passion for trying to take his audiences perception of reality beyond that of normal life, normal human perception. Theatre was illusion; he encouraged his audiences to see beyond the illusion by exposing the structures that were creating/sustaining it, and in the process, delivered a message. He did this through the following theatrical devices, often referred to collectively as “Brechtian”, which he pioneered:
1) EPIC THEATRE: Mostly episodic, plays were written as a seemingly disconnected, open-ended montage of scenes presented in a non-chronological way. The audience was thus left to arrive at its own conclusion of how the events were linked together. This fascinates me: finding connections between disparate events, as if there is an underlying reality linking them, that is hidden from normal, limited perception.
2) THE STAGE: this was usually left bare in Brecht’s productions as a means of preventing the audience from experiencing a detailed illusion of reality. He often exposed the back wall, stage machinery, opened up the physical staging to the wings. Even the lighting grid above the stage was sometimes visible, so the audience could see how lights influenced the scene’s mood, and their own judgment. Again, fascinating. Part of my meditation practice is the idea that some part of you in daily life should always be kept in ‘presence’, in a mindful state, in order to avoid getting lost in thoughts or material considerations – i.e. the “illusion”. Mindfulness is, in many ways, a state of bareness, bareness of mind. The benefit of this is being able to rectify dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, by becoming aware of them.
3) TECHNOLOGY & “HISTORIFICATION”: Brecht embraced the use of technological effects in theatre to break up a realistic setting. This of course had a purpose. Projections, for example, of text onto screens above a stage were used to force an audience to relate the action onstage to other historical or social events. This is called HISTORIFICATION – using an event in the past to make a comment on the present. Something that is as important in journalism, teaching and activism as it is useful in Art. Contextualising and connecting things, in order to understand the bigger picture…
4) ACTING STYLE: Brecht developed his own acting style for his work, that went beyond the Stanislavsky system (where the actor identifies entirely with their character and represents the character from their POV). Instead, actors were urged not to empathise totally with their characters, but to stand outside them and illustrate their behaviour. The method enables the actor to demonstrate the character from a number of perspectives. In my meditation practice, developing the capacity to become the ‘overseer’ or ‘watcher’ of ones own behaviour (and hence the behaviour of others) is developed, again to become aware of other ways of being that might ordinarily be hindered by our egos. And aware of what drives are behind our actions in the world.
5) GESTUS: the most important message of the scene, clarified and delivered through everything an actor did in terms of gesture, stance, body language, facial expressions and intonations. Everything in a scene, indeed, every scene, had a meaning, a message, a purpose.
6) THE ALIENATION EFFECT: A fundamental aspect of Epic theatre. Verfremdungseffect translates as “to make strange”. And again, it involved making both the audience and actors keep a degree of critical detachment from a performance – to be the ‘overseer’.
Through these techniques, the audience was given an insight – it was given the opportunity to experience, co-create, and consider how the illusion was created, rather than passively absorbing the illusion of reality onstage.
As I said, Brecht was a creative genius.
So what makes A CREATIVE MIND? And how is it different from other kinds of minds?
In the ongoing process of accepting and stabilizing (as much as possible) my own bipolarity/sensitivity/general strangeness, I stumbled across an interview with Nancy Andreasen, professor of psychiatry at Iowa University. She is the author of The Creating Brain: the neuroscience of genius.
A number of things were illuminated for me in the interview – in fact, I found it profoundly comforting, and it made me feel less odd and alone.
Andreasen discussed some of the commonalities of creative minds she discovered:
- They are very curious about all kinds of things, maybe a little iconoclastic.
- They sometimes just perceive things in a totally new and different way, that other people are simply not able to see (especially true in science and math) – theses things seem obvious to them, but are radically different or weird to other people.
- They are OBSESSIONAL – when they get their teeth into a problem/task – a piece of writing, a math problem, a computer science problem, a painting – they get so deeply into it that they may end up working all night on what they’re doing.
- They often have had somewhat miserable childhoods.
- An astonishing 75%, 80% of creative minds she studied had a history of mood disorder. Some of them manic depressive (bipolar), some just depressed. With first-degree relatives that had a much higher rate of mood disorder than the control group, and a much higher rate of creativity.
As part of her study, Andreasen conducted detailed interviews with a range of artists about their experience of the creative process. One of these was the prolific American playwright Neil Simon (The Odd Couple). On his creating process, he said: “I slip into a state that is apart from reality…I don’t write consciously—it is as if the muse sits on my shoulder.” And physicist Richard Fineman was known for his intuitive process too. He would be given a very difficult problem, and write it on a blackboard. Then he would stand before it, put his hands on his forehead and think for a few minutes, after which he’d write out the answer – without knowing precisely how he reached it – based on sheer intuition. Following this, it would take weeks, sometimes, to figure out all the equations that went in between the first one and the solution. “That capacity”, she said, “to see what other people can’t see is one of the hallmarks of creative people. To just go on sheer intuition and know something.”
I guess I found this information comforting because my own thought processes are not in any way, shape or form, orderly & linear. I have two siblings who are extremely adept at grasping concrete everyday subjects, with highly structured minds – a sister who is a Paediatrician, and a brother who is a Major in the Australian Defence Force. On the other hand, I – and to a large extent, my other brother – are their opposites, with opposite skill sets. We have both experienced many setbacks in life, in the world, directly related to this. The mind I have been given works in ways I am still learning to understand. My process often involves me staring at a screen or page for extended periods of time, and answers emerging like lighting sparks from a nebulous cloud.
I have always been embarrassed by this – aware that I can come across as flaky, inarticulate or withdrawn at times, as my thoughts often emerge so scattered. It takes me time to then interpret and organise them in a way that I can communicate, and writing helps with this task enormously (probably why I often communicate better on a page than verbally). So, although I’m not some brilliant mathematician, and a dithering mess in the eyes of the world, hearing that Richard Fineman would just stare at a problem and “get” the answer, then sort out how he got there afterwards, is tremendously comforting. I had always assumed I had some sort of undiagnosed learning disability (although I probably still do )
There is one more thing that Andreasan discusses that I relate to profoundly: the feeling that I spend an abnormal amount of time observing in the world. She discusses this concept by relating something else the playwright Neil Simon said – about how he felt invisible, like a spectator, watching other people. “That sense of being almost invisible is another thing that a lot of creative people have” she said. “They are ghosts that spy on the universe, to borrow a line from Shakespeare, and they are often very humble, unassuming people.”
Hmmm. There are perhaps some perks to being a spectator then, an outsider – even though it is often born out of a weird sense of homelessness in the world. I am just now starting to meet other people who feel the same way – which is certainly helping to ease the burden of involuntary eccentricity. One of my new comrades shared with me an Aboriginal proverb recently, that I think deftly describes the state of our perception:
“We are visitors to this time and place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love, then we return home.”
And so, as Brechtian spectators, we observe – in order to learn.
How do we do that? For me personally, I listen. My natural disposition is to listen more than I speak. Socially this is not always advantageous, but it is the only way to gain true wisdom. Ever noticed how ignorance/big-ego always has so much to say? And how loudly…
How do we grow? We open ourselves up to the experiences that will challenge our egos and make us aware of the space, the reality, behind and beyond all things. Knowing these experiences will take us outside of our emotional comfort zones, but finding the cahones to go through those experiences anyway. Coal only becomes a diamond under pressure.
How do we love? We try to do the right thing by others, and by the natural world (ecology), which supports our existence. Not just when it is convenient, or easy, or costs us nothing. And not just when it is the popular thing to do. We try to use what we learn to make the world better for everyone.
It is not an easy life. But other than the things we create, this process yields an unexpected, eternal boon: our sense of homelessness dissipating, as we find our true home within.
Some things that amused me this week
A comic fascinating me/reflecting all my fears – English stand-up Simon Munnery (venn diagram of my life, dude). On my mind as I prepare for art show & playwriting things:
And I cannot get enough of this clip, but I don’t know why – South Korean rapper PSY tearing up the screen GANGNAM STYLE. 1:54 – 2:02 kills me, every damn time [the earnest thrusting of the guy in the hat, oy. So much fun!]:
A post about freedom – in the mind, and in the world.
SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY GUEST BLOG | BALANCING THE MIND.
The lovely U.S. blog author Rochelle Callahan, of Rantings of a Mouthy Bitch, will be reposting my post, Out of the Shadows, into the Light: Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September 2012 (8 Aug 2012) on her blog as part of a series to mark the U.S’ Suicide Prevention Awareness week (9-15 September), and Suicide Prevention Day. I applaud her for taking the initiative to do this, and for her passionate posts on issues such as LGBT rights and Autism awareness.You can read her own post on coming to terms with a suicide here: The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 1 of 8)
When you have depression, or any kind of psycho-social health issues, understanding your own individual brain function and mind patterns becomes essential. I’ve been looking back at past posts (in order to tag them). In the process I have come to see I have been on a journey, that I am still on, to integrate and stabilise an intuition and mental/perception vulnerability that gives me both occasional insight and great pain, confusion, and isolation (hence, hermit tendencies) Great highs and, inevitably, very low lows.
The darkside of this was conveyed in these posts: The Evil Twin. (11 Jun 2011) and What we have to offer. (2 Aug 2012). I try to channel that energy and understanding/empathy/anger productively into storytelling, but also into political issues, as I did in Mental Health and Mandatory Detention: bad on both sides of the wire (30 Oct 2011). This winter, after much intense inner work, I reached a good, “present” place: The Overthinking Game. (4 Jul 2012). But it is these posts (and a few others) that articulate the ultimate, ultimate goal:
SPLIT | PERSONALITIES (20 Mar 2011)
So, I continue to work on that left/right mind balance, that wholeness, solo. But as I wrote at the end of Out of the Shadows, into the Light, at least I know the way there now. The way to my freedom. And I’m doing really, really well.
AUSTRALIA LINKED TO WEST PAPUA HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
The ABC 7.30 Report program aired a deeply upsetting story on Tuesday and Wednesday night about human rights abuses in West Papua, and the continuing – and increasingly difficult – struggle for independence of the West Papuan people from Indonesian rule. The report gave a rare insight into what it is like inside West Papua for the Papuan people. Things to note:
- WEST PAPUA IS A POLICE STATE. Local journalists are followed, some have been murdered. Footage was obtained undercover – the journalist and crew had to pose as tourists, as the Indonesian authorities frequently arrest and deport foreign journalists.
- In Jayapura, the scale of the visible military and police presence is oppressive and menacing. In addition, unmarked plain-clothed motorbike riders, believed to be police, pepper the streets, and a complicated and coordinated web of police informants (ordinary Indonesians) monitor the West Papuan population and inform the police for money.
- 5 KNPB activists killed in the last three months alone (by police & military forces). 3 of them were beaten to death by police at an Independence rally in June.
- Amnesty International conservatively estimates that at least 100,000 Papuan people have been killed by Indonesian forces since the 1960s, and extra-judicial killings are all too frequent. Video of torture and abuse is common – the program showed one of a Papuan man who had been disemboweled and left for dead. Human Rights Watch are investigating many of these kind of cases as we speak.
- 30 political prisoners remain in jail, such as Phillip Karma, who has served almost 10 years for raising the Morning Star flag (which you can see on the masthead of this blog).
- Peneas Lokbere (of Buk, United for Truth) says there has been an increase in abuses like mysterious shootings by unknown shooters, as well as direct and open forms of abuse like summary executions and arrests without legal procedure.
- 8 weeks ago the Indonesian army went on a violent rampage, attacking and burning a town in the highlands of the country. Dozens injured, 1 killed, 87 houses burned. Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch sees it as an all too common example of an army acting without boundaries. He says these kinds of things are happening, over and over again, without justice.
- AUSTRALIA’S HAND’S MIGHT BE DIRTY. Evidence is growing that Detachment 88, an elite counter-terrorism unit trained and supplied by Australia, is involved in torture and extra-judicial killings (including the deaths of Independence movement leaders) as part of efforts by Indonesian authorities to crush the separatist movement in West Papua. [READ THE FULL STORY HERE about Detachment 88, the allegations, and the Australian Government’s response].
Essentially, the Indonesian Government is tightening their control, as the profoundly vulnerable West Papuan people are intimidated, oppressed, jailed, tortured, and killed into silence. They have lived in fear for decades, and they need our support.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO MY PAGE ON HOW YOU CAN HELP (links to a petition, independent information, & activist groups)
137th post (hence the title). I have a new NEWS Twitter feed @paulinevetuna - where I will be posting articles on human rights, the environment, social studies, science, Australian/regional/global politics, and comedy/satire that I view (finally found use for Twitter! Self-documenting and centralizing my online reading habits).
And I’ve updated the blog header & widgets (see capture below). A new West Papua page (link top menu) will contain information and links regarding the FREE WEST PAPUA movement (in time I want to also list the businesses, politicians, and public figures who support Free West Papua too – including LUSH who recently hosted this in-store campaign snapped by friend Nik Harrison – check out this talented man’s photography HERE). A new Mental Wellness page will contain information and links regarding mental health, neuroplasticity, brain science, and everything to do with EMANCIPATING THE MIND. I am also researching the mental health system and patient rights after visiting a friend with an extensive/appalling history with the system in a psychiatric ward on 17th of this month (he’s out now, thank fuck) – so it’s going to take me time to do all this. Bear with me.
For now, you can expect a fresh post in a week(ish) Back sooner than I thought. However, we are on the cusp of Spring now…
“Why do one thing properly when you can do a number of things with middling success?”
he jests… comedy writer Tony Martin.
Experiencing a less emotionally intense/hopelessly scattered mind this week. Oy.
On Monday I watched the first cut of the WDV training film for medical students. As a consequence of being involved in this project, I have augmented my understanding of health access issues for Women with disabilities – merely by listening and reading the related research – and had the opportunity to watch the production process of another professional filmmaker (Fertile Films’ Sarah Barton). All week, my esteemed co-curator and I will be continuing to work with the fine artists who are a part of our Melbourne Fringe Festival show to coordinate it all. I just submitted my first article for the newly launched Stella Magazine (Fashion/Health/Travel/Arts/Life for Contemporary Pacific Creatives). I’m planning to revive a writers’ group, and am continuing to plug away at the play, my own scripts, freelance writing and complete my schoolwork. All the while, looking forward to eating and weaving with my sisters at the Weaving Circle this weekend… and seeing a film… and getting my driver to take the alternate way home so I can pick up a lamb sandwich from Brooklyn’s Lipo’s Kebab’s - a diamond in the rough. I love the West.
So, basically, a typical week in my little world.
Aside from the daily grind, four very different things have grabbed and held my temporarily limited attention span so far. Here they are, in brief:
1. ASYLUM SEEKERS AND OFFSHORE PROCESSING… AGAIN.
Legislation was introduced yesterday in Federal Parliament to enable the establishment of detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island (PNG), a move intended to deter asylum seekers’ use of people smugglers and dangerous boat voyages to enter Australia, which has been recommended by an “expert panel” comprising the former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, refugee expert Paris Aristotle, and former diplomat Michael L’Estrange. The measures are apparently interim “circuit breaker” solutions, however, a long-term regional solution is still required.
Though a minor destination country for asylum-seekers, 964 asylum-seekers and crew have lost their lives at sea while en route to Australia since 2001. As of Monday, every asylum seeker arriving by boat risks being sent to one of the new detention camps where, under proposed ”no advantage” principles, the processing of their claims will not be fast-tracked, and they will be treated as if in a refugee camp in Indonesia or Malaysia. With no guarantee of resettlement in Australia if actually found to be refugees. All in an effort to convince asylum seekers to use the official channels for seeking refugee status here. Read more about the recommendations – including the panel’s recommendations to immediately boost the number of refugees taken under the humanitarian program – HERE.
Notably, the expert panel criticised the Coalition’s plan to turn back boats, saying this would require significant operational, safety of life, diplomatic and legal conditions. It also criticised Labor’s “Malaysia Solution” for not including enough protections for those vulnerable people sent back under the plan. However, it said Malaysia remains an integral part of the issue and the critical key to establishing a regional framework. More negotiation, Angus Houston said, is required, rather than a complete scrapping of the deal.
A number of MPs (other than the Greens), including Independent Andrew Wilkie and Labor backbencher Melissa Parke, have expressed opposition to and raised ethical and humanitarian concerns about the new measures. Read more HERE. and HERE.
And here’s Annabel Crabb’s blog today on history repeating:
Fuller analysis to come.
2. VICTORIAN NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME (NDIS) TRIAL!
On Sunday, the state and federal governments announced they had reached an agreement on the roll-out of the NDIS, which will commence on July 1, 2013 (READ ARTICLE). The State Government of Victoria has pledged to contribute more than $300 million to a trial of the NDIS in the Barwon region from the middle of next year, while the Federal Government will invest almost $200 million. This deal will assist 5,000 people with a disability, and has been welcomed by Advocates of the NDIS.
James O’Brien, from the Every Australian Counts campaign, says those participating in the trial will receive more individualised care.
In the meantime…
You can still support Every Australian Counts – THE people’s campaign for the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as recommended by the Productivity Commission. The Commission devised and recommended the NDIS back in July 2011, following an intensive 18-month investigation of the unmet needs of people with disability and their families and carers across Australia, and analysis of high-functioning disability support systems overseas.
The gaps in services that were uncovered as a part of this investigation were frankly appalling, and unacceptable, in a country as wealthy as Australia. The NDIS is needed now; moreover, YOU may need it one day, and it is likely someone close to you may need it too.
To support the campaign, you can help by:
A) Joining the campaign;
B) Talking to your MP;
C) Joining the campaign on social media and sharing the site with your friends.
Find out more here:
A more detailed analysis on the NDIS to come.
3. HIGH COURT SMACKDOWN OF BIG TOBACCO CHALLENGE.
Just read this:
The Federal Government’s plain packaging laws will be going ahead, after the High Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the laws by big tobacco companies. Plain packets – plain olive, without trademarks, and with graphic health warnings – will hit customer shelves on December 1. I guess no one can plead ignorance, anymore, about the effects of smoking – continue to smoke at your own peril, that’s totally your business. I’m just chuffed that the deadly, addictive product industry didn’t get it’s way on his one.
Choice quote from Jonathan Liberman, from the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer:
“The lesson for other countries is that the only way to deal with the grandiose claims, the clearly unfounded legal claims, of the tobacco industry, is to see them in court. And the High Court here has heard argument, has delivered its decision, the system has worked.”
4. BLACK (HAIR) POWER.
Healthy body image amongst Women is an issue close to my heart. This is a culture that is both ageist and “lookist” – a woman’s appearance – size, shape, skin, hair, style, features – is almost always judged, regardless of her accomplishments in life (Hilary Clinton apparently recently had to shut down an interviewer who was preoccupied with the designer of her clothing). Moreover, the way physical beauty is conceptualised is also highly racialised. The racialised nature of Western images of physical beauty over time, and racism at large, contributed to a culture amongst Black people, and Black Women in particular, that rejected the natural features and hair of Black people – in essence, THE FRO.
In contrast, I adore diversity in looks across humanity. And I love kinky, curly hair. The stigmatisation of the fro in some black subcultures is damaging and gross. Three years ago I made a decision – for both practical and political reasons – to never straighten my hair, ever again. After many years of blow-drying, heat ironing and chemical treating, it has taken my hair all of those three years to recuperate, but it is now super soft, healthy, and mine. NATURALLY. Today, I support publications, media, and artists that affirm diversity and speak to populations that don’t necessarily identify with the dominant, “mainstream” norms.
So I was thrilled yesterday when I discovered another lover of natural hair: Baltimore-based photographer Glenford Nunez, founder and photographer of TYP Photography Studio in Baltimore (US). He started The Coiffure Project, a photographic portraiture series that captures “beautiful natural hair on beautiful, natural people.” I adore this project for the uniqueness and diversity of the subjects, the way Nunez’s captures the individuality of these Women. And, of course, their fabulous do’s:
Many years ago, when one of my older nieces was just three years old, I remember her looking in the mirror and crying, begging her mummy to make her hair straight. At three years old, she had already begun to absorb the message from the world around her that what she was wasn’t okay – wasn’t pretty, wasn’t good enough. In contrast, today, I have other little nieces. I have babysat them, watched them joyfully comb their little kinks and curls with afro picks And this happy sight will remain one of the most beautiful things I will ever see in my life.
I won’t be posting for a little while… next two months are going to be busy. See you in Spring!
In early August 2004, barely into his twenties, a friend of mine – and mad Elliott Smith fan – took his own life. He had struggled with mental health issues, rooted in a childhood marked by poverty, deprivation of love, and instability. As devastating as his suicide was, his untimely death came as a shock to no one – he was born into a house and body of pain, which he tried to numb with alcohol and drug use. Unable to connect in a healthy way with the world, the inner isolation drove him over the brink. Towards the end of the following year, another good man, who had made my high school experience much less repugnant over coffee, outsider wit and Daria, died in similar circumstances, at the age of 21. As he and I had lost contact over the years, I did not find out about his passing until about five months after the fact.
At the time I found out, I was an in-patient at a spinal rehabilitation hospital, waiting for modifications on my parents’ newly mortgaged house to be completed, so I could bust out. Whilst out for the day, I ran into a high school friend at Flinders Street Station and, still in a world of grief herself, she abruptly broke the news to me. A week or so later, through several hours of de-briefing with her, I found out more about his life. A sensitive and intelligent young man, he had become involved in community activism to support LGB youth, but privately struggled with his own turmoil. I realised that we had faced similar trials during that previous year, 2005: relationship break-downs. Extreme anxiety. Depression. Fear. Loneliness. Untenable bottling of emotions. Self-medicating. At the very time he passed away, I was contemplating doing the same.
I am thankful that I didn’t take that final action, as I have witnessed the pain and suffering of those who are left behind. The emotions they are burdened with run the gamut from grief to anger, confusion, guilt, and even shame. Coming to terms with the hole that is left, and the unanswered questions, is part of the unending process of dealing with such an enormous loss. Those left behind can resent the person who committed suicide for the “selfishness” of the act; view them as inconsiderate of those that cared about them. However, whilst the circumstance surrounding every death is different, suicide usually occurs when a person’s pain exceeds their resources and ability to cope. The friend who left in August was not selfish – at the same time, in his own mind, he was completely alone. His life was undeniably harder than his peers. From the writing he left behind, it was clear he could not feel anything but pain by the end – not even the love of those around him.
This is ILLNESS, after all. It is a particular kind of pain that is impossible to understand if you have never been inside of it, inside that mental state. I hope you never are. Nonetheless, thousands of Australians will experience it. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 44 and women under 34. The ABS, Causes of Death 2009 report showed deaths due to suicide numbering at 2,132 – which equates to 6 deaths by suicide a day, or one every four hours (and these are just the suicides that are reported). It showed that more people die from suicide in Australia than from skin cancer, and that Indigenous people are FOUR TIMES more likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous people. And for every completed suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to do so.
BUT THERE IS HOPE. There is hope in taking positive action, in arming yourself with knowledge on how to support both others and yourself in times of dire need. Knowledge on what to do and where to turn to, to find appropriate assistance, and to nourish your own mental well being.
THE 10th OF SEPTEMBER IS WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY (WSPD). On this day, numerous events, conferences, campaigns and local activities call to public attention what is one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary death. Essentially, it’s about getting information out, and connecting people to the support, services and resources that could prevent them, or someone they know, from taking such a drastic action. Everyone is invited to get involved by participating in or hosting an event as part of WSPD. To do so, check out the official WSPD Australia website HERE. The website also contains a ‘Help‘ page HERE with links to hotlines and organisations that assist people in need, and a great ‘Resources‘ page with links to information on suicide and mental illnesses. Check it out HERE.
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, an organsation that has been of personal assistance to me, LIFELINE AUSTRALIA, is organising ‘Out of the Shadows and into the Light’ Walks, to mark the occasion and raise awareness about suicide prevention. To join an Out of the Shadows walk (or register your own), go to the website HERE. Lifeline provides various services for people in crisis and those that care for them, and has published Suicide Prevention Resources and Information – you can download and read through them HERE.
And if you or someone you know is suicidal (and you live in Australia) you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14 (call 000 if in immediate danger).
Post script: As I worked on my writing projects over the past week, I ended up thinking a lot about how comedy and tragedy can be intimately related – two sides of the same coin.
And then I finally watched THIS (strictly for fans of American comedy): Talking Funny HBO Special (2011), featuring shop talk between comedians Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Louis CK (how I wish Dave Chappelle was in on this. That guy has delivered me through many a dark night, I can tell you):
I like comedy in general, but for some reason I have watched a lot of Louis CK this year. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason behind my weird attraction to his comedy, as he can be so base and gross (and I am still a lady, after all). But when I saw this, I figured out precisely what it is I am connecting to in his schtick: part of the motivation for Louis’ comedy is to purposely explore places that he is afraid of, and then to find laughs – light - in those dark places.
When it comes to ‘art’ (if I can be so high falutin) I think that is what I connect to more than anything – people who “go there”, confront some real shit, and create something funny or poetic or beautiful in the process. And I realised, simply because of the way I think over things (an habitual pattern of reflectiveness I sometimes consider a weakness), that I’m actually doing the same thing – confronting fears and taking the sting out of pain – in my own creative writing. This realisation made me radiantly happy, in a week marked by some pretty extreme emotions
HERE’S TO COMEDY/TRAGEDY, AND WORKING THROUGH IT ALL.
This is a brief article I wrote for another publication to promote an upcoming art exhibition in the Craft Cubed Festival. If you are in Melbourne, be sure to check it out, ‘The Melbourne Tapa’. I will return with a new post soon – still getting through my pile.
Traditionally in cultures across the Pacific Ocean, tapa cloth has been made for bedding, clothing, and ceremonial purposes. For people of rank, tapa was often highly decorated, featuring significant designs bestowed from the cultural lineages from which these traditions emerged. The special place that tapa has in our Pacific cultures made it the perfect artistic medium for 13 Pacific Islander women, who have collaborated to create the central curatorial project of this years Craft Cubed Festival in Melbourne, The Melbourne Tapa.
Led over ten months by guest curator Loketi Niua Latu (Tonga) the women –who hail from Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Aotearoa, and live across the north-western suburbs of Melbourne – have created a striking, elegant, and deeply personal artwork. Made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera), the tapa is decorated in acrylic paint with unique designs created by Meleane Saliba, Margaret Pulepule, Ali’itasi T. Trood, Lana Lalagofa’atasi Sila-La’asia, Frances Masina Trood, Frances Tua, Nikki Fong, ‘Epenisa Liku Finefeuiaki, Lata-’i-Falesiu Taipaleti Siu, Andrea Fong, Sesilia Veamatahau Wardell, Ma’ata Palavi-Makasini, and Lavinia Taipaleti-Valu.
The Melbourne Tapa is the first of its kind to be made here in Melbourne. Each woman worked on a 1.5m x 1.5m panel, taking responsibility for the design and careful painting of their segment of tapa. The completed Tapa work joins together all 13 panels, creating a stunning kaleidoscope of colour and design, embedded with meaning. As curator Loketi Niua Latu explains, the completed work speaks to the “blend of cultural traditions and experiences of living between cultures, balancing family values and cultural expectations in the high-pressured world we live where quality demands to be par excellence.”
Craft CEO & Artistic Director Joe Pascoe notes that as an artwork, The Melbourne Tapa “both preserves and informs us of how a culture stays strong and yet adapts.” In creating this ambitious work, sharing such intimate stories and persevering through the difficulties that often accompany such a large-scale community collaboration, Niua Latu and the women of the tapa group have created a vibrant contribution to Melbourne’s art culture, and opened yet another way through which the general public can be helped to understand Pacific cultural experiences in Australia.
Just as importantly, the artistic journey these women took together has solidified ties between their individual homelands and the migrant Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and Maori communities in Melbourne. And it has unearthed some incredibly gifted artists, with a wealth of cultural stories to share – the individual artistic development of each woman involved in the project is beautifully represented in their moving artist statements. Niua Latu hopes that these creative relationships and journeys will continue, and that “we as Pacific people celebrate openly who we are as individuals within a local, national and global community.”
The Melbourne Tapa will be launched on August 2, 2012, 6pm, by Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Hala’evalu Mata’aho Napua’o-ka-lani Tuku’aho, the VIP Guest of Honour.
LAUNCH: 2 August, 6pm.
SHOWING DATES: 3 August — 1 September 2012
VENUE: Craft, 31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
ARTIST TALK: 12 noon, Saturday 25 August 2012
Seemingly unrelated, but not… SOL3 MIO are 3 young NZ opera singers, including Pene Pati (winner 2010 CNZ Iosefa Enari Memorial Award). All three have been accepted into the Welsh International Academy of Voice to complete their Masters. This is them, being brilliant and rather endearing:
Yesterday I read THIS piece in TIME magazine, about Tawakul Karman and the continued struggle for freedom in Yemen. As you may know, Tawakul Karman won – along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, of Liberia - the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. A few weeks back I rediscovered a fantastic two part Bill Moyers ‘The Journal’ podcast (2009) about Leymah Gbowee in my iTunes library. And earlier this month, the 6th anniversary of the 2005 London Bombings passed, of which peace campaigner Gill Hicks was a victim/survivor.
You could say concepts of peace, and various approaches to peace activism, have been on my mind lately. Today I’m sharing the varying approaches of three awesome women, in three very different contexts.
Down with Saleh: Tawakul Karman, YEMEN
Tawakul Karman says the revolution is not over. The 32-year-old journalist, human rights activist, and mother of two, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for her efforts to help bring down the corrupt Saleh government, fight for freedom of the press, bring about an end to unequal treatment and suppression of females, call for justice, and support fellow members of the protest movement (including trying to get them out of jail, where necessary).
Back in 2011 Yemen faced serious problems. More than 5 million Yemenis were living in poverty, and nearly half were illiterate. Yemen was also parched, with declining water reserves, and an oil scarcity that left them politically vulnerable. The epically long-standing Saleh government, according to Karman (amongst many), seemed unable and unwilling to address these problems of the people.
Karman had been an activist long before ‘Arab Spring’, and had taken part in many, many protests, in the north and south of the country. She had even been jailed many times. In 2005 she co-founded with fellow journalists Female Reporters Without Borders (later re-named Women Journalists Without Chains, or WJWC), a human rights group advocating freedom of the press, including for SMS news services (these had been tightly controlled by the government without legal permission). WJWC, and Karmen personally, had received threats, and government blocks of their initiatives.
But it was a corrupt decision to allow the forced expulsion of a group of 30 families from their village (whose land was then given to a tribal leader close to President Saleh) that compelled Karman to ramp up her own efforts to bring about change in her country. The Ja’ashin, as the 30 families were known, became icons – their slogan: ‘Ali Abdullah Saleh made me hungry.’ Karmen saw that there was no hope of bringing about greater rights through human rights or corruption reports. The Saleh regime simply had to go.
So during 2011 Karmen organized WEEKLY student rallies in front of Sana’a University against the Saleh government. On the 22nd of January, she was detained for 36 hours by security forces, a move that sparked demonstrations in most provinces of the country. The political pressure forced her release, and Karmen then led another protest on 29th January. She was re-arrested on 17th March, but remained defiant, vowing that the protests would continue until the Saleh regime was ousted.
Karmen was (and is) by no means the only female in this movement for change (30% of the protesters were women). But her method’s and calls for defiant marches to the Presidential Palace put her at odds with other organisers. Karmen was also vocal in the press, including on the topic of foreign complicity in the injustices being perpetrated by the Saleh regime. On 18th June, a piece was published in the New York Times, in which she criticised the United States for their support for Yemen’s regime and their self-serving intervention in the country.
Other than grass roots protests, solidarity, and journalism, and particularly after her 2011 Nobel honour, Karmen has increasingly been involved in trying to mobilize world opinion by lobbying through international government organizations. For example, she lobbied the United Nations Security Council and the United States not to make a deal that would pardon Saleh. This contributed to a 15-0 vote in the United Nations Security Council on Security Council Resolution 2014, that “strongly condemns” Saleh’s government for the use of deadly force against protesters. However, instead of making Saleh stand trial at the International Criminal Court, it supported the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative to give him immunity upon his resignation. Of course. Ah, the UN. And the murky world of global politics.
With the departure of Saleh in February and the election of new President Abd Rabbuh Mansour al-Hadi, Karmen knows it is necessary to remind the world that the revolution is far from over. The immunity deal brokered by Gulf Arab states was hugely disheartening for faithful protesters. Selah’s relatives remain in key positions of power, sustaining his family’s influence on the country. Reactionary extremist groups remain a threat, as Yemen starts to write its new constitution. And the nation’s aforementioned ‘serious problems’ remain.
So Karmen is still outside Sana’a University, hopeful her presence will keep Yemen in the world’s consciousness. The US and the Gulf states, she says, need to help her country rebuild – after 44 years of US and Saudi Arabia-backed Selah rule.
Note: Despite her somewhat controversial membership in a political party that also claims as one of its member Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, Karman has repeatedly stressed her independence from both the party line and foreign influences.
No peace, no sex: Leymah Gbowee, LIBERIA
In 2009, the legendary Bill Moyers Journal program featured an interview with Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist awarded a Nobel Prize last year, and Abigail Disney, the producer of the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”, about Gbowee and the amazing role Liberia’s market women played in the toppling of President Charles Taylor, the corrupt and ruthless warlord.
Back in 2002, Liberia was in the grip of civil war. The battle raged predominantly between the government of Charles Taylor and other warlords battling to overthrow him. In the course of the conflict, over 200 thousand people had been killed, and one third of the population was homeless. Children were kidnapped and forced to fight and kill even their own relatives. Rape was a frequently used weapon of war. In Gbowee’s own terms, it was hell on earth: “death, at one point, was better than life”.
Thankfully, then 30-year-old Gbowee was well on her way to becoming a peace activist. In 1998 she volunteered in the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (THRP) in an effort to gain admission to an associate of arts degree program. THRP was run out of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monrovia, and the churches of Liberia had been active in peace efforts throughout the conflict. The THRP program brought Lutheran pastors, lay leaders, teachers, health workers and the Christian Health Association of Liberia together to try to repair “the psychic and social damage left by the war”. It was here, upon working with ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army, that she realized that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers”.
In 1999, Gbowee had started reading books in the field of peace building, such as The Politics of Jesus by Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, works by “Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, and the Kenyan author and conflict and reconciliation expert Hizkias Assefa. The following year, Gbowee met Nigerian Thelma Ekiyor, a lawyer who specialized in alternative dispute resolution. Ekiyor told Gbowee of her idea of starting a women’s organization, and a year later, Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) was born. In was the first of its kind – no one else on the continent was focusing only on women building peace. The handwritten organizer’s training manual was replete with exercises designed to draw women out, engage them, teach them about conflict and conflict resolution, and even help them understand why the issues had to be addressed.
By spring 2002, Gbowee was working in trauma-healing by day and as an unpaid leader of WIPNET in Liberia by night. She was now a mother of five children, all of whom were living in Ghana with her sister. One night, asleep in her WIPNET office, Gbowee had a dream: “And it was like a crazy dream, that someone was actually telling me to get the women of the church together to pray for peace.” Gbowee was rattled by the dream, as well as its implications – she was not, she felt, someone whom church-goers would deem a good Christian – being an unmarried woman with children. She went to a friend of hers to help her call the women of the churches together for prayer, but was initially reluctant to lead them, until the elders and other women expressed their faith in her ability – and suitability – to lead.
By summer she was the official spokeswoman and inspirational leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Her peace movement had started with local women praying and singing for peace in a fish market. The movement expanded to work across religious and ethnic lines, and Gbowee led thousands of Christian and Muslim women for months, coming together to pray using both Muslim and Christian prayers. Eventually, daily nonviolent demonstrations and sit-ins were held, in defiance of orders from President Taylor.
But perhaps the most remarkable – and unusual, to Western ears – tactic that the women employed was the twin threat of A CURSE and A SEX STRIKE (in essence, no peace, no sex, for the men engaging in conflict). The practical effect of the sex strike was minimal (and enforcing it difficult), but the tactic was very effective in drawing media attention to the cause.
Still, the women needed the attention of the President, and with giant balls (or rather, ovaries) they decided to occupy a soccer field, beside Tubman Boulevard – the route President Taylor traveled twice a day, to and from Capitol Hill. All of the women wore white T-shirts with the WIPNET logo and white hair ties, to signify peace, and to attract his attention – which they did. On the 23 April 2003, Taylor granted them a hearing. 2000 women congregated outside Taylor’s executive mansion, and Gbowee spoke, passionately stating their plea to Grace Minor, the president of the senate, the only female government official present, and a secret financial supporter of the movement. Gbowee positioned herself to ensure Taylor could see her face as she spoke.
President Taylor had said from the beginning that he was not going to engage in peace talks with the rebels. But following the 23 April and Gbowee’s address, he made his first public commitment to meet with the rebels in Ghana – a massive development. And the women knew they needed to be there, not just to pressure the negotiators, but to represent the true victims of the war to the world’s conflict – and male – focused media:
“There was another side to this story, the women and children that were affected, because all we saw on CNN were footages of fighting and bombing and interviews with Taylor and the rebel leaders […] We were the victims. So we thought if we stayed back and didn’t go to Accra, we would have defeated our purpose.”
Through fundraising, the women accumulated enough money to go to Ghana in June, but not enough to sustain them (organisers had anticipated a two week trip). Nonetheless, they went (they were there for three months). Their first act was to sit daily in demonstration outside the expensive hotels where the negotiators met, pressuring for progress in the talks. But the talks continued into July, with no progress and continued bloodshed. Despairing, Gbowee decided to lead a group of women – that grew from dozens to a couple of hundred – into the hotel, holding signs: “Butchers and murderers of the Liberian people — STOP!”
Next came the most crucial development. The chief mediator was General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Nigerian president. Gbowee passed a message to him, that the women would interlock their arms and remain seated in the hallway of the hotel, holding the delegates “hostage”, until a peace agreement was reached! News reports showed Gbowee stating their position: “we’re going to keep them in that room without water, without food, so they at least feel what the ordinary people in Liberia are feeling at this particular point in time.”
Luckily, Abubakar seemed sympathetic to the women. Mildly amused, he announced: “The peace hall has been seized by General Leymah and her troops.” Then, when the men tried to leave the hall, Gbowee and her allies, in utterdesperation and with no prior planning, pulled out the CURSE card: they threatened to rip their clothes off. Why is this a curse? Because the act is a profound cultural stigma. “In Africa, it’s a terrible curse to see a married or elderly woman deliberately bare herself.”
And this act was enough, amazingly, to make these violent warlords comply and return to the negotiating table. Abubakar supported the women to remain sitting outside the negotiating room during the following days. The “atmosphere at the peace talks changed from circuslike to somber.” Weeks later, on August 18, 2003, the war officially ended, with the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Two years later, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (the third winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011) was elected as president of Liberia, the first elected woman leader of a country in Africa.
This is one of my favourite peace stories of ALL TIME. The humble nature of the women who comprised this non-violent peace movement led by Gbowee, so overlooked and disregarded by the world, makes their achievement in the face of despicable tyranny all the more breathtaking. The story also illuminates that cultural understanding can be pivotal in resolving conflicts. What western pundit or politician would have thought that a despairing woman’s removal of her clothing would have had such a profound impact on men responsible for the killing of thousands of people?
Maybe empowering and supporting people to find their own way to peace, rather than prescribing “solutions” from the outside, is the best way to go.
Abigail Disney, the producer of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”, offered this insight:
I had the most extraordinary moment during the shooting of the film when we had an opportunity to sit with one of the warlords who’d been present at the peace talks. And I asked him, “How is it possible, in a country where fifty percent of the women have been raped, for one woman threatening to strip naked to cause such mayhem? I don’t understand.”
And he said, that you have to understand they were our mothers. And the only way your mother would do that is if she were driven to total desperation. And there was something in that moment there that caused every man in that room, no matter what he’d done during the conflict, to ask himself, “What have I done? What have I done to get us here?”
You can view the interview with Gbowee and Disney HERE.
And check out Gbowee’s website: www.leymahgbowee.com/
M.A.D. for Peace: Gill Hicks, UNITED KINGDOM
“The greatest threat to peace within any country, in my opinion, is division, identity, fear and ignorance.” – Gill Hicks
In 2005, Australian born Gill Hicks was living in London. In the morning rush of 7 July, she boarded a train on the Picadilly Line, and inside the crowded carriage found a place to stand next to a young man, Germaine Lindsay, from Leeds. Germaine, also known as Abdullah Shaheed Jamal, was carrying a bomb. Upon detonating the device on his body, he ended both his own 19 years of life, and the lives of 26 people. And Hicks, almost fatally and horrendously wounded in the attack, was reborn.
Both her legs had to be amputated below the knee, and her injuries were so severe that she was initially not expected to live. The last living victim to be rescued, she had lost 80% of her blood, her body peppered with shrapnel (including car keys in the back of her head). In her own words, her legs just looked like “an anatomical drawing of the inside of a leg that you’d see in a doctor’s surgery”, with the exception of her feet, which were still intact. Her body was so severely compromised that her rescuers could only “suspect” this unidentified person was female until she was properly examined in hospital.
Hicks has been able to describe her own personal experience of “near death” with lucidity. She has talked about sensing, very strongly, two voices: the voice of Death, and the voice of Life, having a conversation in her head and presenting these two options to her. The voice of Death, on one hand, was soft and appealing, urging her to surrender to what she experienced as the “beauty of death” – an encompassing, beautiful feeling she found herself wanting to remain in. The (apparently female) voice of Life, however, was quite angry and agitated at her for even contemplating the idea of death, for the pain it would cause those still living who cared about her. Once she had made the decision to live, the voice of Death left. And her long battle to survive and recover began.
What is most remarkable to me about Hick’s story, even beyond her rescue and long recovery, which she has discussed in various interviews and in her first book, is her steadfast refusal to hate the perpetrators of the London bombings on principle, including Lindsay/Jamal. After the attack she visited Leeds, where most of the bombers came from, and was taken aback by how devastated the people there were. She asked the communities there what they could do, together, to present a united front for peace, at a time where divisions between communities were heightened. They came up with the idea of walking from Leeds to London with her. The premise was that in undertaking this trek, which would be very difficult for Hicks given her amputations, they would use the coverage of this event to encourage people in the towns along the way to come out, walk with them, and talk to people they might believe to be very different from themselves. It was a way of opening up a safe dialogue.
Hicks also began giving talks and seminars advocating for peace as an individual choice and action, using the term “actionist” for peace – as she says, peace should be something we DO. Spurred on by the belief that what is needed in society is to set up environments and platforms for people to just be people, to understand and empathise (there’s that word again) with each other on a human level, regardless of cultural and physical differences, she founded the not-for-profit organisation, M.A.D. for Peace, in 2007. It focuses on “the responsibility of the individual to create an environment in which he/she has choice in every word and action – ensuring that those words and actions are positive and/or constructive. We believe that peace is within – and that peace starts with you.”
I share her whole philosophy, the emphasis on the right use of liberty and our individual responsibility to create peace with our choices, of how we respond to conflict in our own lives and on a broader scale. The internet, a powerful connector for groups, especially terrorist and extremists groups, should be utilised by CHOICE by peace activists (actionists) in the opposing – or rather, transcendent – cause of peace. To this end, M.A.D. launched a major initiative that mimics the networking of terrorist cells – its equivalent being Nests – allowing international communication of constructive messaging and knowledge share.
This is the website:
Back in 2010 I wrote my 35th post titled ‘Alienation & violence’, outlining what is kind of my life obsession: what I believe to be the link between alienation and the choice to commit an act of violence against any other:
“Religion, political ideologies, ethnic identity movements, etc. – all of these are dangerous when:
a) They demands blind faith/adherence and discourage critical and individual, free thinking;
b) They advocate violence against others or even ones self; and
c) They ALIENATE the believers/adherents from others – so that the believer/adherent ceases to see those outside their religion or political grouping (or any other kind of grouping) as equals, and instead view them with suspicion, as enemies, tainted infidels, antagonists. Or even just view them with extreme indifference, as sub-humans. Essentially, the others are not like them.”
The post ends with this:
“But, ultimately, it does all comes down to what is in peoples heads. Somehow, we need to foster an awareness of the sameness of people, a higher consciousness, that inoculates people from being indoctrinated/alienated with dogma of any kind. Which means combating all the conditions that can cause people to be drawn to extremism in the first place.
Still trying to figure out practical ways we can do that…..”
Hick’s M.A.D for Peace, with its goal of building empathic communities, is one of an infinite number of ways peace can be acted out in the world. She has faced hate mail from those who would prefer, shall we say, a less tolerant response by ordinary citizens to terrorism, but both Hicks and her husband are sure of the rightness of their position in contrast to haters of all kinds and at all ends of the political spectrum. In any nation, and particularly in settler societies, where migration is an inherent part of a nation’s fabric, creating understanding and a sense of connection between various communities and individuals is undoubtably one factor necessary for peace. As articulated on the M.A.D for Peace site:
“… we do NOT live in isolation – wherever we are, whatever we do, we interact with and depend on other people….we are, whether we realise it or not interdependent.
And with this Interdependency comes Responsibility, we are each responsible for our own choices and the impact those choices have on people around us.”
Good grief, I’m verbose today!
Check out my dad’s new blog post on post retirement activities – he’s a little more succinct than I am:
“Wabi sabi is a Japanese philosophy that teaches that beauty and wisdom are not “out there” to be discovered, but are instead here in this moment. Many of its concepts correlate with ideas of Zen Buddhism, because the first Japanese involved with wabi sabi were tea masters, priests, and monks who practiced Zen.”
Readers of this blog will know I have a core interest in creative simplicity, universal thinking and ‘Middle Way’ philosophy. Truth be told this perception makes its way into all of my posts, sometimes unconsciously, whether they be on art, culture, psychology, or personal topics. I have attempted to articulate aspects of this perception consciously on the ‘Philosophy’ page, and in these previous posts:
Recently, I discovered another piece of what is shaping up to be an awesome lifelong puzzle: Wabi Sabi.
Wabi Sabi is “a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” It is the art of finding beauty in that imperfection, wisdom in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It is simple, slow, and uncluttered. Modest and humble.
Characteristics of the wabi sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
The person who introduced this aesthetic system to me last week said that the Way of wabi sabi was to “go with the flow”, to adapt to rather than fight inevitable change in life. And to stabilise oneself by “living in the now”.
Being wabi sabi is being true to ourselves, and happy with who we are.
He was ‘preaching’ to the choir. Yay wabi sabi! I see correlations to my Pacific cultural background. And my body conveniently fits this aesthetic
“Wabi-sabi as way of seeing the world, states that nothing is permanent but change (nothing new in Eastern philosophy) but Wabi-sabi’s variation is that things are evolving from or devolving towards nothingness. And beauty lies at the borders of nothingness. Imperfection is hailed as a virtue rather than a defect. It is admired.”
“Bindjareb Pinjarra is devised theatre at its finest. It’s well-paced, with relaxed delivery, attractive larrikin clowning, and confessional intrusions where actors drop character to address the audience from their own experience. This last is effective in illuminating deficiencies in the way we educate young people about Australian history and culture.”
Cameron Woodhead, The Age, June 15
‘Falling for Sahara’ aims to raise awareness about the refugee experience to the wider Australian community, and highlights the important role sport – in particular AFL – plays in creating social cohesion for newly arrived communities in Australia.
Staff writers for essendonfc.com.au
This has been a great week for professional and personal growth, under the tutelage of professionals (I am now being schooled in Playwriting as well as Screenwriting). Seeing these two productions over the past week made it that much better! If you get the chance to see the following play or film at some point, I would encourage you to do so
Bindjareb Pinjarra, & the Playwriting Weekend
On Saturday I saw Bindjareb Pinjarra, a BRILLIANTLY constructed, entertaining, deeply moving and thought provoking improvised comedy about a massacre (that sounds wrong, but somehow, it totally works). THIS review in The Age (do read it) sums up pretty much everything I enjoyed about the storytelling elements of this production, so I won’t duplicate that discussion here. Instead I want to share the two big questions that emerged from it, for me.
Bindjareb Pinjarra is about the mass killing of the Nyoongar people at Pinjarra on October 28, 1834. This event was recorded by White authorities as the Battle of Pinjarra but mourned by local Nyoongar as a massacre. What is known is that Governor James Stirling led a force to punish the Bindjareb tribe. They took the Aborigines by surprise, and shot indiscriminately for over an hour (shot at people who certainly did not have the weaponry that they did). The death toll, though the subject of much debate and denial, included women and children. These deaths were recorded and passed down in Oral histories on the Nyoongar side, whilst news reports and “official” counts by Whites maintained the numbers were significantly (and conveniently) lower.
Towards the end of the play, one of the actors breaks character to address the audience (this happens at various points in the telling) and poses this question to us: did the Blacks exaggerate the numbers to make the killing seem worse than it was (although any deaths make this event heinous, in my mind), or did the Whites downplay the numbers to make the Nyoongar people look dishonest, stifle their claims that it was a massacre, and thus, legitimize their actions (at least, in their own minds)?
In essence: where lies the truth?
A challenging question, one that I feel completely compelled now to explore in my own writing – not specifically in relation to this event, but in general.
There is another question that is raised in the play that needs to be addressed, for it is one that comes up a lot whenever the topic of historical injustices (particularly as they pertain to Indigenous peoples) comes up.
And that is: why does it matter today?
An infuriatingly ignorant question. People do ask it, though. I’m sure we’ve all witnessed people question why we should “dwell” on these issues. Insisting that we should focus on the “positives” and not judge the motivations and actions of previous generations. And I personally don’t. I don’t judge the actions of previous generations. I judge the actions, and attitudes, of current generations. An understanding that current conditions, prejudices, disparities in health and life outcomes, rates of incarceration, and a myriad of other issues are directly related to the histories that preceded today, is possessed by anyone who has a functioning brain and a basic grasp on the concept of ‘cause-and-effect’. Acknowledging past injustices does not solve the problems, but it is most certainly the first step to healing what is a deep psychic wound that most non-Indigenous Australians (myself included) have the luxury of ignoring.
Similar to the cynicism expressed in regard to the Apology to the Stolen Generations, people who question the use of acknowledging today that this event – and others like it – were indeed massacres, despicable acts of unjustifiable violence, are completely, and embarrassingly, missing the point.
Falling for Sahara & Refugee Week Film Festival
On Monday night I attended the Refugee Week Film Festival at the Sun Theatre in Yarraville, a charming old little cinema. The program featured a few short films made by young former refugees/participants in the 2011 Young Media Makers Project (mentored by my Pacific Stories producer Amie Batalibasi) and the screening of the 2011 Melbourne feature film, Falling for Sahara (supported by the Essendon Football Club and directed by Khoa Do). The evident somberness of the audience kind of bummed me out – especially since the theme of Refugee Week this year is ‘Restoring Hope’ (I guess they didn’t get the memo, or possibly read this piece in The Age). I did, however, accidentally end up sitting next to Inderdeep, who wrote the Big Issue article that inspired my Big Issue article, on the ‘About The Messenger’ page of this blog! (yet another coincidence. They’ve been happening with increased regularity of late).
It is important to remind people that ‘refugee’ is NOT a derogatory term, an “identity”, or some kind of subset of humanity. It is a political term used to denote people who are stateless, primarily due to war and persecution, who are in need of a homeland and the protections that come with having citizenship within a nation state. They have the same basic human needs as you and me, the same desires for safety, and are entitled to the same basic human rights. Relocating to a new country from a camp or some other place is, of course, hugely challenging, in many ways. The four short films screened addressed some of these challenges. The first made the point that perspective – celebrating the light side of life – is important, especially if you have been through disturbing circumstances. The second was a documentary, interviewing two young refugees in good ‘ol Footscray (one Asian, one African). Another dramatized the culture shock of a newly arrived refugee, unfamiliar with life in a modern city. And the last was a well-constructed satirical piece on Australian government policies towards refugees from particular ethnic backgrounds.
The feature film we watched, Falling for Sahara, also showed some of the challenges of being in a stigmatized minority and crossing cultures through the characters of three young men/teenagers of African descent, living in housing commission high-rise flats in Melbourne (that look grand with good cinematography!!!). Directed by former Australian of the Year Khoa Do, it features a script developed in conjunction with the cast of African-Australian actors, and (then) recently arrived refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. The three young men come from different circumstances. MJ is a refugee who experienced camp life in various countries in Africa before coming to Australia. Beniam is a lothario type, and the film opens with him seducing the beautiful Achol. And Ramsy is an aspiring Australian Rules football player. All three are affected by, in varying ways, a stunning Ethopian girl named Sahara.
I love seeing a group of people in Australia represented on film who pretty much never appear in media (unless presented in a sad/troubling news story or as ‘The Other’). In Falling for Sahara, the three young men are just a few dudes getting on with their day-to-day lives. Beyond the idiosyncracies of specific accents and peer group dynamics, their preoccupations are pretty UNIVERSAL: love and sex (at least for Beniam), belonging, appeasing their parents whilst having some sort of agency over their own lives, and a sense of identity. The way these characters pursue these wants is (obviously) influenced by their background culture (and its expectations of how they should behave), attitudes that they have been brought up with, and the complications that come with having to engage with (and try to integrate into) a dominant culture that contains elements simultaneously trying to reject them. A culture that has its own ingrained attitudes or misconceptions about who these young men are to begin with.
Another thing I appreciate about this film is that it does touch on some pretty sophisticated and complex issues: internalized and external racism, class, collective tradition versus individual choice. They emerge through snippets of dialogue, but are not explored fully. This didn’t really bother me too much, as by the 15-minute mark it felt to me like a “slice of life” kind of film, a snapshot of the lives of these young people. Once I had decided as an audience member this was what the film would be, I surrendered, and enjoyed the experience of seeing a part of Melbourne we don’t often get to see.
But, if I could change anything about this movie, it would be to give the script a stronger focus on the issues that the film lightly touches on, by making the protagonist of the film Sahara. I found myself wanting to know who she was. Why she just watched as the completely innocent MJ is dragged away by police, who have jumped to the conclusion he is hassling her based entirely on his appearance, not behaviour. How she felt about being married off to a man in Ethiopia. Why a private school educated, modern young woman could not assert her own wishes in the face of thousands of years of cultural tradition.
Obviously, that was not going to happen given football was supposed to be prominent in the film – The Essendon Football Club were supporters of the production, and have been working with the Flemington Housing Estate for a number of years. But perhaps even that focus – the role of sport in integration – would have been better served by making Ramsay a stronger central protagonist. We don’t find out much about him other than he plays footy, has mixed feelings about Australia, and fancies Sahara. The dominant sport cultures reveal a lot about a nation. I wanted to see how he got along with his teammates – in the film, Ramsy complains his teammates don’t pass to him, but it isn’t clear whether this is true or not. His character is seemingly eager to belong but also uncomfortable with Australia; trying to be in it and pursue a sporting career yet simultaneously dealing with the tension of elements within that culture rejecting him.
I wanted to meet his family. I wanted to see him making escalating and tough decisions to get what he wanted. Essentially, I wanted more drama.
So many meaty themes touched upon and hinted at, as well as characters we haven’t yet seen on screens. I would LOVE to see them explored more fully in future productions. Given that I am a writer, maybe these are topics I should tackle myself. And I have a suspicion this was the message for me this week.
Special shout out to Amie Batalibasi and Lia Pa’apa’a who opened their new studio/art space ‘Sunshine Art Spaces’ yesterday! http://prettywak.com/
Also check out this great t-shirt I scored on the weekend, from FCAC – really fits with the theme of this post:
“…I hear a voice you must learn to stand up
For yourself cause I can’t always be around…”
‘Winter’, Tori Amos.
The theme that emerged during this last week was “female artists I have crushes on” – merely due to the media I have consumed since the last post (although this tends to be a recurring theme in my life). As I read and watched and listened my way through the week, the women noted below inspired me for being strong women who evidently follow their hearts, go their own way… you know what I mean. They are not saints, but I like them for not being afraid to just be who they are, even if that means not conforming to certain gender, cultural or behavioural conventions. Every time I encounter a woman like this in life or in the media I am kind of reminded to keep following my own path, too. Passive encouragement, if you like.
So, in no particular order…
BOYS DON’T CRY.
This week I re-watched HILARY SWANK’S break out performance in Boys Don’t Cry (1999), followed by her interview on Inside the Actors Studio. Both appearances reminded me of why I could potentially watch this woman’s face all day.
Boys Don’t Cry tells the story of Brandon Teena, a biologically born female who lived as a man, and pursued a relationship with a young woman, Lana, before being beaten, raped and murdered by Lana’s male acquaintances after they discovered Brandon was anatomically female. The film is, sadly, based on a true story. Brandon’s cruel death disturbed me the first time I saw this film – I was amazed to find the story no less brutal and moving today. Much of its power owes to Swank’s finely wrought performance. So often when actors are called on to play a character of a different gender, the emphasis on physicality (characterisation) can lead unintentionally to a highly self-conscious portrayal – even caricature. But Swank has this profoundly natural quality, which she brings to this performance – it is seamless, which allows the audience to focus on the character, the humanity, of Brandon.
Shortly before landing the role of Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry, Hilary had been fired from the eighth season of Beverly Hills 90210 – a particularly ego-bruising dismissal. She considered giving up on her dream, feeling that if she was not good enough for that show, she was not fit to continue at all. But that ending was a blessing in disguise, freeing her up to audition for the movie of a lifetime two months later. When she found Kimberly Peirce’s script, she began working on the physical components of the character: working on embodying “masculine” mannerisms. She knew that the film would only work if the audience found the lead believable as a man, so the embodiment of the character was exceedingly important. Her work paid off, and the relatively unknown Swank won the coveted role over well-known actresses who campaigned for it – including her co-star Chloe Sevigny, who played Brandon’s love interest, Lana.
Boys Don’t Cry picked up a swag of awards, and won Swank the Academy Award for Best Actress. Years later, she went on to star in Clint Eastwood’s 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, and was genuinely surprised she did not have to wait too long for another “kick-ass” character and script to come along. Surprised, too, that Clint Eastwood didn’t even request her to audition for that role – upon meeting her he simply indicated that she needed to start training, as soon as possible (Clint obviously had an instinct that she would be a natural fit for the role of Maggie, and the critics agreed). Her performance in Million Dollar Baby won her a second (!) Academy Award for Best Actress.
Not bad at all, for a lady who grew up in a trailer park, dropped out of school and drove to LA with her freshly divorced and retrenched mother, carrying $75 and a gas card. Eating one fast food meal a day and initially sleeping in their car, while her mother spent her days at a payphone cold-calling agents until she got one. A seemingly foolish and reckless life path choice, that surprisingly led to a really, really wonderful place. Swank is blessed that pursuing her dream worked out for her… eventually. In any case, she asserts that it pays to just be humbly grateful for whatever opportunity you have, learn from everything. Now matter where you end up, the journey will be that much better.
She never saw sleeping in a car as hardship, and it was not: she was pursuing her dream! And if you are fortunate enough to have an avenue to do this, you better appreciate it – so many never get the chance to.
THE BLACK SWAN.
Musician and activist TORI AMOS’ inclusion here is surprising even to me (as much as I loved From the Choir Girl Hotel, back in the day). But as I was going through my iTunes library last week I rediscovered an ABC podcast from years ago featuring an interview with Tori, in which she had some interesting things to say on religion and spirituality.
Tori’s father was a Methodist minister, and her upbringing included a hefty dose of religious guilt and strict “moral” parameters (offset, thankfully, by the pantheistic influence of her grandfather). A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a young aspiring writer. Her upbringing involved no religion, nor conservative influence. She had no conception of the effects of such an upbringing on a person’s consciousness, so found it very difficult to empathise with anyone whose early experiences or values did not match her own (we’re both in Gen-Y, go figure). This lack of empathy with people outside her common social group was hampering her ability to write.
Tori’s interview reminded me of my conversation with the writer, as Tori began to talk about sensuality, sexuality and shame surrounding such topics within people who were indoctrinated with a moral system that placed such things, even subtly, outside the bounds of “acceptable” behaviour. This was one idea the young writer could not fathom: why anyone would have hang-ups about sexuality and sensuality in the year 2012.
Because I have conservative religion and culture in my family background I understand very well the kind of thinking that leads to repression, yet rejected it in my youth as soon as I possible could – so I understand both repression and liberation. Tori, having gone through religious indoctrination and transcended it through her art and life journey, has a real grasp of the ‘healing’ (for lack of a better term) that needs to take place in order for those who struggle with repression to enter a more liberated consciousness in regards to their sexual expression.
A lot of the work that Tori has made over the years has been addressing how women have been subjugated in Christianity, and how this subjugation caused many women to have a hard time reconciling their sexuality and their spirituality: that the women who struggle with this issue can step into their spiritual self, or their sexual self, but not both at once. The conversation got weirder, as Tori talked about the concept of “Spiritual eroticism”:
“If you think about it, the two Marys in Christianity. The Mother Mary – she didn’t have her sexuality, that was taken from her, she only has her spirituality. And the Magdalene, she has her sexuality, but wasn’t allowed her sacredness or spirituality. So alone in Christianity, we have the division of the Marys. And my goal within myself has been to marry the Marys within my own being.”
The “Black Swan” struggle within – cool shit. It is easy to forget when you live in a society where sexual freedom is the norm that not everyone shares that sense of freedom – that so many have to go on a difficult journey to attain it. I like the way Tori transcended her own dogma indoctrination to find a healthier, holistic experience of being human, and, along the way, helped others who were drawn to her artistic expressions going through the same transformation.
THE BLACK APARTMENT.
So I have been quietly crushing on AMANDA PALMER for approximately 9 years (she first came to my attention as one half of the Dresden Dolls). The main reason for this is that I admire the way she has fearlessly created her own way in life. This week, I dropped by her BLOG to see what she has been up to lately. Amanda recently collaborated with The Grand Theft Orchestra to produce a new album, under the name of ‘Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’. A few months ago, she used Kickstarter.com to launch and seek financial backing from fans for this new multifaceted creative collaboration, which includes the new record, an art book, art gallery shows, and a tour.
Taking it straight to the people. The Kickstarter project was supported by 24,883 backers, to the tune of $1,192,793. In her last blog post, Amanda outlines some of the things she and her peeps have been occupied with since: preparation for the tour and a couple of photo shoots, including one in a space in New York called The Black Apartment. Now approximately one year ago, I wrote a post called …A Cindy Gallop production. The post was about a media debate that was occurring at the time, driven by the book tour visit of incendiary anti-porn campaigner Gail Dines and a series of verbal jousts between her and ethicist Leslie Cannold. They disagree on the extent to which porn is shaping dominant cultural attitudes towards sex, and the post explored some discrepancies in Dine’s public assertions. I also discussed a website set up by ad exec Cindy Gallop to address what she sees as the propagation of myths about sex in commercial pornography (the site was referred to me by a reader). Cindy (or Cindy’s publicist, posing as Cindy) left a comment.
What does that have to do with Amanda Palmer? Well it turns out Cindy Gallop is the creator and inhabitant of The Black Apartment – a good-looking space, as the photos in the post reveal.
The two ladies thus got to meet and chat. On Cindy, Amanda writes:
“Cindy Herself is a work of art of a human being…and we didn’t get nearly enough time to talk. over dinner she explained her MAKE LOVE NOT PORN web concept to us, which is absolutely brilliant…a fresh antidote to the way porn has been skewing the way people are educated (or mis-educated) about sex. pretty amazing stuff, pretty amazing woman.”
Somehow I am not surprised that these two women in particular would get along.
Some typically ‘colourful’ language in the rest of Amanda’s post HERE.
And a connective bit of trivia: Amanda’s husband, writer NEIL GAIMAN, is a good friend of Tori Amos. Neil became a fan of hers after she referenced him in the song “Tear in Your Hand”, and in interviews. He created a character in The Sandman series that is inspired by her, wrote the introduction to the Eisner Award and Harvey Award-winning anthology graphic novel Comic Book Tattoo (based on Tori’s songs), and is godfather to Tori’s daughter. Amanda has also covered some of her songs, including ‘Winter’ (quoted at the beginning of this post), in live performances.
That just about does it for now. Enough star gazing. New post and new topic soon.
For thousands of Australians who live without shelter or financial security, the winter is long and painful. There are a few organisations that assist people in need during this time of year. Here are a couple of ways you can support their work.
Winter Sleepout 2012
If you live in Sydney, Mission Australia will be hosting its big public Sleepout in Sydney’s Centennial Parklands on 04 August 2012.
For those who can’t make it, Mission Australia will support you to organise your very own sleepout in your backyard or local community.
The money raised goes towards Mission Australia homeless services located across the country to help transform the lives of Australians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
For more information, check out the website HERE.
Give Blankets, Give Now
The Give Now website has a comprehensive list of organisations and both monetary and non-monetary ways you can assist them. The site is commission-free, run by the Our Community Foundation and supported by Westpac.
A good resource to help you discern the best way you as an individual can give, with your particular time, resources and skills. I personally would use it purely as an information resource, and contact the organisations directly in order to donate.
Check out a list of non-monetary ways to donate HERE.
Or take a look at the main site HERE.
I’d say you make a perfect
Angel in the snow
All crushed out on the way you are
- Elliott Smith, ‘Angels in the snow.’
Winter is here! I will be turning 28 at some point during this season, and I am starting to feel my age, in a good way – feel comfortable and at ease in my own skin. The inner critic that tortured me for so many years has been silent in the last month. The tree outside my bedroom window, whose leaves were a brilliant golden hue for the duration of May, now stands bare yet still beautiful. My favourite DKNY trench coat is getting daily wear/love. And I am spending my holidays working on projects (of course) and continuing my self-education in the Theatre (last play attended: On The Production of Monsters at MTC). This is a new path I had not planned on travelling, but have been pulled to serendipitously. It is the strangest thing: when I make no plans and surrender all with an open heart, I somehow get what I need, I have found. Ironically, being a free spirit is how I find security. It is hard to be unhappy with this lot in life.
My beloved hometown Melbourne is usually avoided and derided in winter, but I enjoy it at this time of year – there are so many arts and cultural events, and ways to warm up. That being said, I will be getting away to the Murray briefly before semester starts. Nonetheless, Melbourne to me is a soulful city in any season, and there is always something to do, see, or participate in (or EAT!). An art festival I would recommend is ‘The Light in Winter’. Now in its sixth year, ‘The Light in Winter’, 1 June – 1 July, brings together local and international artists, designers, architects, filmmakers and multicultural groups in a free, month-long enlightening program of light sculptures, talks, events, workshops, performances and the much-loved Solstice Celebration.
This year’s program is inspired by the National Year of Reading. It will celebrate the enlightenment that reading sheds on our lives, through shedding “new light” on literary texts, oral traditions, calligraphy, music, body art and braille, along with imaginative light sculptures, and surprising collaborations from top international and local artists, designers and architects. I heard Robyn Archer, the 2012 director, giving props to my associate Emeretta on Radio National’s Drive program with Waleed Aly on Thursday. Emeretta is a passionate climate change campaigner. Her homeland of Tuvalu is expected to be one of the first nations to be completely destroyed by rising sea levels. Emeretta believes that making the cultures of the tiny island nations that will be lost more visible, making their presence felt in the adopted countries of those in exile, is the only way to remind people of what will be lost.
So, In Rise of the Backbone on the 16th June, the Pacific Islander community will show and read from ancestral tattoos on the body, with a live tattooing that marks one woman’s entry into wisdom – Emeretta’s. She will be tattooed live in Fed Square. This ceremony, as with many ceremonies in traditional indigenous cultures, is usually shrouded in secrecy, but, as she says, unless these rituals are carried out in such a way as to allow others to understand them, indigenous peoples will not make their presence felt – they will be overlooked, as they so often are in a world consumed with its own ends, growth, and financial gain. I have a writing thing on the 16th, but this is going to be a great day in the festival program – check the WEBSITE for details.
Another fascinating exhibition is cBraille, a light exhibition for people who are blind (yes, blind). By Rob Caslick, cBraille is located in a shipping container along River Terrace. It focuses on emotions as the direct link between visitors and a visually impaired person. Caslick explained that he was inspired to create this exhibition after an interesting experience he had overseas. He went to see an exhibition in a large warehouse, which was completely blackened out. Everyone walked from compartment to compartment, led around by a woman who was blind. The woman had no light perception, but often talked about light. It seemed like a contradiction – why would someone who was blind need light? Caslick later discovered that 90% of people who are blind can see light. He wanted to create an exhibition that showcased this. cBraille incorporates backlit Braille displays and a soundscape of stories from vision impaired participants, aimed at leaving you with a sense of what it’s like to lose your vision, to never have had vision, and the common bond shared as human beings.
That there is a tiny, tiny taste of what is happening in Melbourne at the moment, so no complaining about how shit this city is in the winter And though it does not snow in Melbourne, I did spot a Winter Angel, on the first day of June – an unusually beautiful sunny day. I was on my way to my local west suburban shops to pick up some supplies for the weekend, when I came across a young mum in her trackie dacks and her two little children – a little girl of about six and her little brother of pre-school age. The angel in question, however, was their mum. As I strolled behind them I observed her carrying a rubbish bag, picking up litter on more than three streets as she walked along, and encouraging her two little ones to help her – which they did. Eventually I caught up to them and had a friendly exchange with the mum, who was delightfully cheery and upbeat.
I was inspired, seeing this woman quietly practice what so many preach. Inspired enough that I will be doing the same now whenever I go to my local shops. We hear so many stories about irresponsible parents and careless kids. It is worth remembering, though, that there are awesome people in the world quietly setting a terrific example not only for the children they are rearing, but everyone. Being the change they want to see. Some I have the privilege of calling my friends.
That is all for now. Forgive this meandering post – it has been a while since I last wrote here, and my brain has been blissfully occupied in that absence, so I need to readjust to this blogging thing! I will post again in a week or so.
In the meantime, I am excited about an upcoming promotional photo shoot for a Melbourne Fringe Festival visual art show I am fortunate to be co-curating.
A night time shoot. In winter. Potentially with costumes.
This is going to be fun.
Here is a clip of the song quoted above, ‘Angels in the snow’ by Elliott Smith (1969-2003). Still pretty. I do listen to current music, but for some reason the beginning of winter brings this song to mind:
“Eight Australian Pacific Islanders share their stories about the challenges of negotiating Islander culture, language and identity in an Australian context.
With cultural backgrounds from across the Pacific, these filmmakers explore the struggle to keep family connections strong; investigate stories from the spiritual world; celebrate Oceanic art; and contemplate the meaning of age old traditional practices in our contemporary world.”
Pacific Stories, the DVD.
Pardon my absence from my home on the internet. I have a number of fun projects on the go at the moment. A number of pots on the stove. A number of juggling balls in the air. I’ll stop now. You get the picture.
I will return with a post when I feel I have some semblance of control over these personal and creative affairs. In the meantime, I would like to promote something that is worthy of your attention. In late 2010-2011 I had the privilege of participating in a project called Pacific Stories (see blurb above).
Produced and facilitated by filmmaker Amie Batalibasi and cultural educator Lia Pa’apa’a as part of the Emerge Festival, and supported by Australia Council for the Arts, Multicultural Arts Victoria and Footscray Community Arts Centre, Pacific Stories was a film project for Pacific Islanders, mainly from the Melanesian region. Basically, we all made a short, factual film.
The films we made were compiled onto a DVD. The DVD recently received a G classification, and the project is keen to sell the remaining DVDs. You can purchase a copy here:
Pacific Stories was first and foremost a great learning experience, and one that I am sincerely grateful for. Filmmaking can be tricky – the film I ended up with was completely different to the film I actually wanted to make. I had hoped to make a straight documentary without my voice anywhere, but time constraints and, ahem, shy participants forced me to reconstruct my idea into a 5-minute V.O’d narrative.
Such is life. The really great part was getting to see the other participants films, and to see them shown to a packed audience That was fun! I wrote about that experience HERE.
Amie and Lia have rather brilliantly kept the Pacific Stories project rolling with Harmony on the Murray, a two-week intensive film project with a group of students at Robinvale P-12 College. Showcasing not only the talent and creative ideas of the young people involved, but the remarkable tutelage of these wonderful women.
Read about it here:
Some of Amie’s Young Media Makers Project crew will now assist in post-production. The Young Media Makers Project (YMMP) aims to use film as a means of creative expression for young people to tell their stories in a new and innovative way and to provoke thought about young people’s issues amongst the wider community. Attending the first screening of the first crop of films from this project, a number of the young filmmakers had come to Australia as refugees. It was awesome to see their stories on screen, told from their point of view. Thought provoking, and, also, thoroughly entertaining.
You can follow that project here:
So, that’s that. Back soon – once I learn how to juggle.
Had a seriously delicious, gloriously cheesy spinach gnocchi for lunch today at The Quarter, 27 Degraves Street Melbourne. Great service, waiters were excellent with my wheelchair needs. Good, good karma to them.
And as stated in last post, I did try Shira’s (In Pursuit of More) recipes! More on food and health and pigging out in a future post. As the owner of one of the most sensitive and irritable stomachs downunder, It appears I am finally – truly – making peace with food. How nice it is to just cook and eat, curl up with book and cup of chai, then sleep Simple pleasures.
“I’m just a girl on a journey. A journey to finding more with less.”
Shira: In Pursuit of More
Here is a blog I follow and enjoy that you may also enjoy – In Pursuit of More – Living with (just a little) less.
Shira, the blogger, writes about her passions: living the idea that giving, sharing and gratefully enjoying the simple things enriches our lives, and talking about our relationship with our food, our bodies, and our neighbours. Check out the About page to see her beautifully articulated statement of purpose in full.
To me, this site is simply about appreciating life fully, simply, following the ethos of “less is more”, and embracing healthy living. Posts are thoughtful musings on life, healthy living, and recipes spiced with wisdom and philosophical inspiration. With her recipes, she explains how each achieves “more” with “less”. Confusing? See this recent post to understand what I mean:
Shira was lovely enough to ‘like’ one of my posts one day and, consequently, I discovered this wonderful site. Other than her writing, I adore her food photography: sensuous and thoroughly appetising. Always a treat to behold!
Given the kitchen in the house I live in is not accessible, I do not cook often. It is an almighty bother to do so as it takes me twice as long as the estimated preparation and cooking time. Instead, I more frequently satisfy my craving for variety fine food by eating out at inexpensive eateries city-wide whenever I can (budget permitting). However, I am planning to try her Quinoa Protein Bites recipe next weekend! I have never tried Quinoa before. I am excited
Some other treats on my ‘desired’ to do list:
For those of you who can run but have fallen into a rut with it, take heart, read this, you may be re-inspired:
Another site I am a subscriber of is POSITIVELY POSITIVE.
“Our goal is simple: to bring uplifting voices and messages to our community every day. Our growing supply of blog posts, videos, and handpicked quotations are designed to remind us that there is good in every situation, and possibility in every person. Our contributors and guests hail from every conceivable walk of life, from Olympic Gold Medalists, to kids fighting for their lives, to everyday people wanting to make a difference in the world.”
- Positively Positive
Subscribe to the site or follow on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera for regular doses of brightness, encouragement, and positivity advice. I can tell you that as someone who is continually battling the darkness in my head, I truly appreciate the insights. More links to beacons of hope and light on the internet to come.
On a completely unrelated note, I had an encounter last night with British actor of stage and screen Bill Nighy (eye contact counts as an encounter, in my book). After seeing an hilarious comedy show, I ducked into a nearby (chic – certainly too chic for little me) café in the city, and Nighy was sitting at the next table (trust me, it was definitely him) looking dapper and thin and what have you. I did not enter the premises in order to see him – I was feeling faint, needed sugar, and it was the first accessible, not too crowded place I came across. But I broke my budget to purchase dessert and stay there (like I said, too chic for me). As I waited for dessert to arrive, I resisted the urge to text everyone in the universe. We made eye contact several times, and this often happens to me in public places with strangers, in a rather rude way (apparently a woman in a wheelchair is a spectacle to some people) but I doubt the ‘disabled spectacle’ factor was why.
In fact I was concerned that he thought I was texting about him, given how quickly I pulled out my phone after unintentionally making eye contact with him the first time (but I did not do that… until later). For shame. Normally not fussed about actor/public figure sightings, but I have thoroughly enjoyed his work. In the highly unlikely event that you or “your people” read this, Mr Nighy, I offer my apologies if I made you uncomfortable. I was texting my ride home. And I’m a fan of your work.
A google search has revealed to me he is in town filming a movie with Aaron Eckhart, and Miranda Otto. I feel I should have known this, given what I am studying:
So if you see him, DON’T pull out your phone. Let the man drink and write in his notebook (or was it a palm pilot? I can’t recall) in peace. And if you see someone in a wheelchair, have some empathy, and don’t stare. Being on wheels is neither odd nor remarkable. Mankind has been using them for quite some time.
Speaking of disability, Nighy is the honorary Patron of the CPFRIS (Crystal Palace F.C. Fast Results & Information Service) Disabled Children’s Club, and of the Ann Craft Trust, which works to ensure that organisations that support disabled children and vulnerable adults are aware of abuse and protection issues. He is also one of the Honorary Patrons of the London children’s charity Scene & Heard, a charity that teams inner-city children in Somers Town, London with a volunteer theatre professional to write short plays which are performed by professional actors in front of enthusiastic audiences and provide the children with an experience of success, pride and increased self esteem.
Films/programs Nighy has appeared in that I have enjoyed include State of Play and Love Actually. He was also in The Girl in the Café, written by Richard Curtis and directed by David Yates. The production received mixed reviews. I was, however, taken with the performances of Nighy and his costar Kelly Macdonald – the awkward love story between their characters. Both rightly received Golden Globe nominations for their roles. This is a clip – it features the first meeting of the two characters (in a cafe, of course):
This is the song at the end of the final episode of Enlightened. ‘So American’, by a band called Portugal. The Man, from Portland Oregon.
And it is stuck in my head. Disorientating, when you’re in the ‘burbs of Melbourne.
Do you really wanna do something good,
or are you just tired of feeling powerless?
I guess, both.
The tagline for the HBO series Enlightened was this: “A woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough.”
That woman is of course Amy Jellicoe, a challenging protagonist I wrote about extensively in THIS post. In season 2 of the show, the human catalyst for Amy’s actions is Jeff Flender, the Los Angeles Times journalist whom she contacts to leak hacked information to and, eventually, begins sleeping with. When Amy first visits Jeff’s apartment, she sees a photo of him with an older man, and asks him if the older guy is his grandfather. It is actually the political theorist Noam Chompsky. The difference between Amy and Jeff is significant – as a journalist, he basically makes a living using social media. But she tells him in the episode ‘Follow Me’ that she thinks technology is cutting people off from each other.
This prompts Jeff to invite Amy to attend a party being thrown at someone’s mansion for activist Roberta Jackson – a fictional librarian-turned-activist who fomented an anti-corporate movement using social media from a coffee house in Monrovia. At the party, Amy is inspired by Roberta’s speech to follow her, and embrace technology in the quest to change the world. As she tends to do, she then fantasises about what it would be like to be a true peer of one of the people at this fancy party – an activist, an agent of change.
A person for whom the world is global, important, “big”, rather than provincial, petty, and “small”. She wants to be a part of Jeff’s world – or rather, the world she perceives he exists in. Her attraction to him is really an odd kind of mirror to Marnie Michael’s attraction to Booth Jonathan in Girls – even if Amy’s desire is to do good in the world, her desire is coming from the same egoic place and attraction to glamour at this point (which is why I love the moment when a waiter at the party recognises her as a frequent customer of Chili’s in Riverside ). And, likewise, the question of MOTIVATION features heavily in season 2 of Enlightened, the fantastic final season of this series.
Where is the line between self-interest and altruism?
In Season 1, we saw Amy make genuine strides towards self-awareness and inner change – as well as mess up, backslide, make waves and alienate people. She still desperately wanted to be an “Agent of Change” on a grand scale, to gain some sense of satisfaction and importance, but had no clear strategy or goal to pursue yet. At the end of Season 1, though, after the humiliating meeting with her former section, she has an idea: use Tyler’s ability to hack emails to gather evidence against corrupt executives (and her enemies) within the company… and take them down. Season 2 follows Amy down this dimly lit path, and we see her capacity for self-reflection seriously compromised (before making a post-apocalyptic return in the beautiful series finale).
So, Season 2 questions what motivates some kinds of people to make changes – in particular, significant changes – in the world around them. In essence:
Are you doing this – pursuing this course of action – because you want to make the planet and yourself better?
Or are you doing this because you want to make a name for yourself? Or escape your “ordinary” life? Or be powerful? Or be famous? Or enjoy the kudos that comes from having any kind of political clout, “important” career and/or public influence?
Dougie is really clear about his motivation for helping Amy in her hacking – “I just want to fuck these guys. I just wanna fuck this company.” Tyler’s initial reluctance to go along with Amy eventually falls away, after he is humiliated by Omar one too many times, and decides that, like Amy said when trying to recruit him, he has been “too nice”… and it is time to exact some kind of karmic justice.In contrast, Amy, for a long time, insists on the purity of her intentions – to others and, more significantly, to herself. This is perhaps the most dangerous kind of thinking.
Back in Season 1, after her return from treatment, Amy was hell bent (or heaven bent?) on becoming an ‘Agent of Change’ (the title of the last episode). Through trial and error, her high ambitions were thwarted, and she was humbled repeatedly by the reality of her life and the world she lives in. But, Amy discovered ways she could affect positive change in the life she was already living – in her relationships, in her generosity, in local political issues. This was one of the things I found moving about that season – seeing this self-destructive and irritating person actual do what so many find impossible to do, and change herself. Her motives, at those breakthrough points in her story, were fairly pure.
However, after the complete humiliation of the boardroom meeting at the end of Season 1, she is tipped over the edge. A concoction of personal vengeance, righteous indignation, a desperate human need to feel significant and reclaim some sense of power, and genuine disgust at corporate greed, feeds the fire that spurs her on her “Mission” in Season 2. And the consequences, both positive and negative, are extreme. She both reconciles and completely destroys her friendship with Krista, in appalling circumstances. Despite Tyler’s early warning to her to examine her motives for her “Mission” because she was “pissed about her life”, she draws him deeper into that mission to take down Abaddonn – which leads to him joyfully framing hated co-worker Omar.
And at the end of Season 1, Amy convinced troubled ex-husband Levi to go to the Hawaii treatment facility that she had gone to, in order to get sober. Levi’s experience there is portrayed in the episode ‘Higher Power’, completely about him in rehab (episode guest stars Christopher Abbott, who previously played ‘Charlie’ on Girls). However, partly because of Amy’s ambitions for a “bigger life” with the award-winning journalist Jeff Flender, when Levi returns a changed man, she rejects his sincere proposal to finally settle down, help each other, and grow the family she always wanted. Later, Jeff tells Amy they will not be able to continue seeing each other after the exposé they are working on is published, and she finds herself heartbroken again (episode ‘No Doubt’ – a great episode).
So, although Amy’s mission to take down Abaddonn is successful, there are losers other that Abaddonn’s public image and corrupt CEO Charles Szidon. Amy, as she anticipated, loses her job, but is also kicked out of the house by her mother who, having already disapproved of most of Amy’s life choices, is disgusted and dismayed by her actions against her employer of 15 years. Amy’s success in her mission to take Szidon down does gives her some satisfaction, but it does not deliver the illuminated marvelous “big” life she wanted – instead, she finds herself lost again, questioning whether she really is the loon almost everyone in her life dismisses her to be.
That being said, the ending is decidedly positive – perhaps not in the way that the Amy in the pilot episode would have imagined, but full of light nonetheless. The final monologue and montage – finishing with satisfied pleb Amy walking down the street in flip flops – shows a perception of a world finally stripped of illusion, but with grounded optimism… and, perhaps, genuine ‘enlightenment’. The reflective words in this monologue are basically the same as those in the first monologue from the pilot episode – spoken by Amy when she was still in the nourishing, quarantined bliss of the Open Air Treatment Facility.
After her time there, Amy’s challenge was to take that wisdom, that ‘enlightenment’, out into the real world. And that particular mission will take the rest of her life. What’s important is that she gut checks, learns from her mistakes, and doesn’t give up.
The last exchange between Levi and Amy, before that final monologue, says it all:
Levi, who am I?
Who are you?
Am I crazy?
No. You’re just full of hope, you got more hope
than most people do … It’s a beautiful thing to
have a little hope for the world, you know?
~ – ~ – ~
I can completely understand why the masses didn’t flock to this show. But I really appreciated it. Although it was not picked up for a third season, as a two-season story, I think it is a complete and beautifully articulated piece of work. Writer Mike White has said it was a really personal project, reflecting where he is at in his life right now. I enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve seen from him, and as infuriating as the central protagonist often was to watch, Laura Dern completely nailed this role.
I wonder what White will come out with next……
I’m busy at the moment so missed this, but will be watching at some point this week.
RAISING ADAM LANZA by PBS Frontline and presented by Kerry O’Brien went to air tonight at 8.30 pm on ABC 1. It will be replayed on Tuesday 14th May at 11.35 pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00 pm and at ABC iview .
Read more HERE.
Related post: Alienated. Violent.
A few photos from the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival a few weeks ago – The MELEPONI PACIFIKA Exhibition, the Opening, and the Community Day. All photos © James Henry.
Congratulations to Colour Box Studio – in the final two weeks of their 7 week Pozible fundraising campaign, they managed to raise over 50% of the minimum amount required for the campaign to be successful – which of course got them over the line! So, the Colour Box Studio journey continues
“Together, there’s no stopping us. That’s how we roll. Love & gratitude to all.” – Colour Box Studio
Some new posts coming in a few days. I’ve had an intense week, no energy to blog about it. But changing, growing……