Cultural Elsewhere

Essays and interviews in the world of the arts, architecture, design, journalism, politics and culture. And more, which appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere  . . .

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, written and directed by HONE KOUKA

19 Nov 2016  |  3 min read

Although not without its problems – uneven pacing and a curious lack of necessary theatrical conflict between some key characters – this energetic production gets by on youthful vigour, terrific songs, exceptionally athletic dance and flashes of wit which neatly undercut the serious surface. Writer/director Kouka of Wellington's Tawata Productions says the genesis of the... > Read more

BOB MARLEY'S INFLUENCE ON MUSIC AND CULTURE IN AOTEAROA (2016): A panel discussion with Tigi Ness, Leonie Hayden and Graham Reid

5 Nov 2016  |  <1 min read

It was my pleasure to take part in this panel discussion -- hosted by Duncan Greive -- about the importance and impact of Bob Marley in New Zealand popular music and culture. This was the inaugural panel discussion/podcast which launched the Spinoff's Pod on the Couch series of discussions and debates. The discussion was prompted by the release of Stir It Up; Aotearoa's Tribute to Bob... > Read more

VOLUME, MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

1 Nov 2016  |  1 min read

This is the first part of an article I wrote for Metro magazine about the Volume exhibition which is currently running at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. People say it a lot: As you get older you can't remember last week, but your childhood comes rolling in with great clarity. As someone in peril of being described as “elderly” by a fresh young journalist, I can tell... > Read more

I WAS A RABBIT: Photography of Zwines & the Auckland punk scene, AK 78/79

5 Oct 2016  |  1 min read

Those of us who were there -- and Elsewhere freely admits to only having been there four times -- will attest that Zwines club in Auckland was where the NZ punk live scene first happened. By chance or coincidence Zwines was in the same old brick heritage building which housed the rebellious Beat-era pop-rock bands of the Sixties such as Larry's Rebels. The building which is now a... > Read more

I Am a Rabbit, by Proud Scum

THE STORY OF THE SEMER LABEL (2016): The fall and rise of the house of Hirsch

11 Jul 2016  |  3 min read

Tragically, it seems, the appalling lessons humanity should have learned from the Nazi era have been forgotten – or worse, not even known – by far too many people today. While most haven't quite got the Hogan's Heroes rear-view of that time (Gosh, what merry japes they got up to and fooled those silly SS and Nazi types?), it does seem odd that George Clooney and the rest... > Read more

Kaddish (The Jewish Soldier)

NIXON IN CHINA REVISITED (2105): History as theatre

7 Mar 2016  |  6 min read

Although it is his autobiography and he's allowed to exclude whomever and whatever he wants, it did seem odd that Philip Glass would not have mentioned John Adams' opera Nixon in China in his recent book Words Without Music. Both Glass and Adams – along with Steve Reich – redefined the parameters of opera in the late 20th century with their enormous multi-media works. And... > Read more

ANDY WARHOL AND AI WEWEI (2015): A long overdue encounter

30 Nov 2015  |  4 min read

Curiously enough, although both men were artists living in the same city not far from each other, had friends in common and sometimes attended the same exhibitions, they never met. They were however separated by age (the older man in his mid 50s, the younger man three decades his junior) and cultural background (American and Chinese). But now Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, or their... > Read more

NAUGHTY PUSSY by KATHRYN VAN BEEK

17 Oct 2015  |  2 min read

Because of their temporary nature and purpose, band and music posters are often an ignored art form. Not all such posters are artistic however, most are just fit-for-purpose: name, date, venue and hopefully some eye-catching image or typography. After the event they are advertising, most are simply redundant except for the fact that . . . When looked at from some distance many... > Read more

EXPLORING OUR INNER MYTHS AND LEGENDS (2015): The stories we carry inside

2 Oct 2015  |  3 min read

“We are all connected in some way,” says Solomon Islands-born artist and curator Reina Sutton. “There are myths and legends from all corners of the world. One or more of these stories flow through our bloodlines." Pairing up artists to produce works that honour their ancestors is the genesis for Sutton’s forthcoming project, Myths and Legends in my veins.... > Read more

THE EMPIRE CITY; SONGS OF WELLINGTON by ANDREW LAKING and BOB KERR (VUP book/CD)

21 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

With historic photos, and subtle, evocative paintings by Bob Kerr (perhaps most fondly remembered for his terrific Terry and the Gunrunners comic book series), this book/CD by writer and songwriter/singer Andrew Laking sketches in a broad picture of moments, people and iconic places (the wharves) in the history of New Zealand's capital city. For those not familiar with what shaped... > Read more

At the Wharves

MASTERPIECES FROM THE HERMITAGE (2015): Catherine the Great Collector

13 Sep 2015  |  5 min read  |  1

Try as we might, it's very hard for us to think of the Old Masters as contemporary artists. Yet in the time of Catherine the Great of Russia, that's exactly what they were. Catherine – a German married to Peter the Third whose reign lasted a bare six months — was one of the most acquisitive art collectors of any age, someone who dispatched advisors to collect the great... > Read more

MELBOURNE'S GRAFFITI ART (2015): Take a walk on the multicolour side

6 Sep 2015  |  4 min read

When Chris Hancock talks about his friends, mentors and inspirations, it sounds like some weird code. In short order he ticks off Dem189, Nost, Ha-Ha, Adnate, ELK, Rone and Steen Jones . . . who apparently ripped off Sailor Jerry. And so it goes as Hancock guides me around the graffiti-covered lanes of Melbourne where he — as a graffiti artist himself and something of a historian... > Read more

DAVID BOWIE IS (2015): Inside the mind of a pop culture chameleon

30 Jul 2015  |  3 min read

Even in an artistic life of oddity, irony, apparent contradictions and self-aware consistency, it still comes as a surprise that David Bowie left London – the city of his birth and where Ziggy Stardust fell to Earth – over 40 years ago. Aside from brief visits, he's never returned. David Robert Jones who grew up in suburban Sundridge Park, some 15km from central London,... > Read more

DAVID BOWIE IS (2015): The Man Who Sold His Selves

27 Jul 2015  |  3 min read  |  3

In one corner of the expansive David Bowie Is exhibition which opened in Melbourne a fortnight ago is a video clip that many visitors walk past with barely a glance. In the exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) which contains dozens of his stage costumes, artwork and storyboards for videos, handwritten lyrics and other better known videos, this one can so... > Read more

Some Are

Tania Giannouli Ensemble: Transcendence (Rattle)

22 Jul 2015  |  1 min read

The previous album by Greek pianist/composer Tania Giannouli which appeared at Elsewhere was a duet recording Forest Stories with saxophonist/flautist and clarinet player Paulo Chagas and -- for no other reason than they were improvised pieces -- we posted it in our Jazz in Elsewhere pages (see review here). It was such a fascinating album we invited Giannouli and Chagas to answer... > Read more

Obsession

JACK BODY REMEMBERED (2015): A man who was, truly, a Jack of all trades

14 May 2015  |  5 min read  |  1

In the very early Eighties, I bought an album on New Zealand’s Hibiscus Records, an imprint which seemed to be a sub-division within Kiwi Pacific. I suspect I picked it up on the strength of its cover photo – a man squatting and playing what looked like an oversized thumb piano and a tagline which read “Street Musicians of Yogyakarta”. The album’s... > Read more

Musik Dari Jalan

AFRICA EXPRESS PRESENTS TERRY RILEY'S IN C: Modern to ancient and back

4 Apr 2015  |  2 min read

Many years ago someone told me a Chinese ensemble did a treatmernt of Terry Riley's cornerstone minimalist piece In C, "But the buggers didn't play it in C," he laughed. I have no idea whether that is true or not, but it's a good joke anyway. In C -- first performed in November '64 -- is widely considered to be, if not the first, then certainly the first widely... > Read more

NORDIC DESIGN IN MELBOURNE (2015): Birth of the Cool

29 Mar 2015  |  3 min read

When John Lennon wrote Norwegian Wood in 1965, the song may have alluded to an affair he'd had but the title reference was very specific. It was to the fashionable Scandinavian design of the period. By the mid Sixties furniture and fashion designers, artists and architects from that broad region north of central Europe were creating functional and decorative work which was considered... > Read more

CHUCK CLOSE IN SYDNEY (2014): In the face of challenges

29 Dec 2014  |  5 min read

In Sydney's newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) there is a remarkable portrait of the late Lou Reed. It is an enormous piece by the American artist Chuck Close who is renown for such large-scale “heads”, his preferred term for his full face, usually front-on portraits. Those familiar with Close's work know where this is heading: Lou is one of Close's... > Read more

POP TO POPISM (2014): The cultural shift in contemporary art

24 Dec 2014  |  4 min read

In the early Sixties just before the Beatles conquered America through a combination of art, smarts and image – and shifted the coordinates of popular culture to Britain – America was the nexus of global pop culture and political life. The Kennedys, Hollywood, consumerism, girl groups, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe . . . . The world had been electrified by Elvis and... > Read more