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  . . .

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THE GENIUS OF ZAHA HADID (2017): The pulling power in Seoul

12 Sep 2017  |  4 min read

If anyone doubts the pulling power of great architecture and design to re-invigorate a city and lure tourists they need only consider one word: Bilbao. In the Eighties, this city in the Basque region of northern Spain was in economic free-fall: Industries were failing or in decline, unemployment – especially among the young – was climbing and the city of some one million... > Read more

THE ART OF THE OILS (2107): Iconography and imagery on Midnight Oil album covers

5 Sep 2017  |  3 min read

When it came to rock culture and how artists presented themselves on album or EP covers, the Australians were about a decade ahead of New Zealanders in cultural and artistic associations with their homeland. The jazz fusion group Ayers Rock, for example, not only appropriated the European name of Uluru in the red centre but also had a cutout image of the rock on the cover of their '74... > Read more

Paul McLaney: Play On (Loop)

25 Aug 2017  |  2 min read

Although there have been any number of musical settings of Shakespeare's songs and sonnets (Paul Kelly recently with last year's Seven Songs and A Sonnet for example), the very prolific Paul McLaney takes another direction into the words of the Bard: 10 of his soliloquies. Those are passages spoken directly to the audience, sometimes in earshot of other actors but unheard by them.... > Read more

The Deeds of Mercy ft Ria Hall

EVE de CASTRO-ROBINSON'S NEW WORKS FOR PIANO (2017): Pictures made into sound

14 Aug 2017  |  1 min read

In her new work for solo piano – a zigzagged gaze, 10 piano pieces -- the New Zealand composer Eve de Castro-Robinson was “let loose among the art collection of the Wallace Trust” which she describes as “a gleeful trawling through riches” in the liner notes to the new Rattle release by pianist Henry Wong Doe. On that album Pictures, Wong Doe interprets... > Read more

Trick-or-Treater

PRINCE EUGEN'S WALDERMARSUDDE IN STOCKHOLM (2017): The prince and the painters

14 Aug 2017  |  3 min read

Although most people discreetly draw a veil around the private life of Prince Eugen of Sweden, you can't help note the homoerotic quality of the male nudes in his art collection. Or the absence of women in his inner circle of friends. Prince Eugen – born into a liberal royal family in 1865 as Eugen Napoleon Nicolaus Jansson, fourth in line to the throne... > Read more

THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF OSLO, PART THREE (2017): Operaen; The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet

9 Aug 2017  |  3 min read

In the first two parts of this brief series about the architecture of Oslo, we looked at the new developments in the Barcode area and around the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup-Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. The centrepiece of Oslo's archirtectural regeneration and development however is the undeniably beautiful and strikingly innovative home to the Norwegian Opera and Ballet, a landmark... > Read more

THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF OSLO, PART TWO (2017): The Tjuvholmen district

7 Aug 2017  |  2 min read

In the first part of this photo essay-cum-envy tourism look at the new architecture of Oslo, we turned the camera onto the small and developing area known as Barcode which is emerging behind the city's magnificent opera and ballet hall on the water's edge. More on that building in Part Three, but here we look to the small peninsula beyond AkerBrygge just a few minutes walk from City... > Read more

THE NEW ARCHITECTURE OF OSLO, PART ONE (2017): The Barcode development

31 Jul 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

Although the jewel in Oslo's architecture is the breathtaking Norwegian National Opera and Ballet building -- pictured here, like a glacier on which people can walk on and through -- there are many spectacular examples of 21st century design everywhere. Not the least of course is the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art with its huge curved roof and passageway between... > Read more

BOB DYLAN, THE ON THE ROAD SERIES (2017): The musician as painter

24 Jul 2017  |  2 min read

Although most people, including many longtime followers of his music, only know of Bob Dylan's paintings because of his Self Portrait and The Band's Music from Big Pink album covers many decade ago, he has long pursued a creative outlet through the visual arts. He makes large scale sculptures and has presented a number of themed painting and graphic exhibitions in recent years, notably the... > Read more

THE BEATLES' SGT PEPPER'S COVER (2017): An image for all seasons

22 May 2017  |  2 min read

Within weeks of the release of Beatles' album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 50 years ago, its front cover image -- photographed and constructed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth -- was being copied, parodied and appropriated. Numerous bands and companies down the decades have used the idea, and Frank Zappa was quick to grab onto it for the Mothers of Invention album We're Only In It... > Read more

Good Morning Good Morning (Basic track, from Anthology 2)

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

6 Feb 2017  |  <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

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

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

1 Nov 2016  |  7 min read

This is the 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 you in my case this... > 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