Monday, 31 December 2018

Artist in review 2018

Under construction....

Setting the scene


Zone One

Melbourne review

Venus in Fur

All clear

Panel 'It's Personal' Feminist Writers Festival, Sydney 

Lincoln in the Bardo


Sunday, 1 July 2018

#MeToo: take note from a black Aboriginal woman

Consider this….

  • How many opinion pieces of childhood trauma will excuse the author from years of trolling?
  • Just how pale would your skin have to be to be invited to excise black skin stories to make your coat of many colours?
  • How much self-appointed leadership would you need to serve to legitimize abuse and assault?
  • How many years of government funding validates bullying and exploitation?
  • How many tweets would you need to punch out to redeem yourself from polluting our world?

The lack of #MeToo stories within black Australia doesn’t mean these wrongs don’t exist.  A person of foresight would know one of the strongest deterrents’ of bad behavior has become the ticking time bomb of exposure and public shaming. 

The reluctance and the fear around not speaking up will inevitably collapse.  It’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when will it happen. 

It got us this far, the rule of silence that protected the twisted ruin that hid in the shadows, and these days lurks on social media and nests in the remains of community myths.

It is the man who slinks around social media taking credit for the work of women smarter and tougher than he, to the one who drives around communities with a slab of beer and a eye for the young ones. It is the academic who sabotages women’s efforts and lectures young minds on their brand of faded fiction.  It is the women who joined them in the muck.
It is in the threats and the pile-ones. It is in the sly eye and the broken heart.

You know the rule:  we can’t show any weakness as it puts us all at risk.  We fail, we lose, we drop and we perish by those words. 

Standing over one another cannot be the only strategy, time after time. 

I am calling ‘time’ on this attitude.  I wont be alone.  Think it through.  The growing demands for simple rights such as ‘truth’ and ‘voice’ will cast a light in dark corners, whether the main perpetrators are still alive or not.    

The answer to all my opening questions is – not enough.  There will never be enough reason.   Don’t let a perpetrator tell you any different.

Freedom, come warm my hands. 


Older posts....

One day will we have truth and reconciliation on violence – where victims are free to voice their suffering, and perpetrators can admit to themselves to what is common knowledge within communities?  Or perhaps they’ll be quietly left out and behind, a relic of a violent age when broken bodies, head injuries, sexual assault, broken families and pension day blues was more common than not.

-- November 2015

You can not be involved in any grass roots campaign without knowing about child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities.  You can’t be a feminist without knowing about physical, mental and financial abuse of Aboriginal women.
 You can’t call yourself an Aboriginal leader if you haven’t faced these issues head on.

-- March 2016

Sunday, 14 January 2018

My job

My grandson has reached an age where he will ask his daddy to call me so he can get on, he wants to share some news.

It’s either a question and a quick chat, or it's to tell me that he is disappointed.  I coo at him and talk about being happy about something that he can do or look forward to.

His latest disappointment – he can’t make films and put them on youtube.  Both parents said no.  A definite 'no' from both of them.  He knows there are rules about online spaces, and some rules are non-negotiable.

My grandson is under 10 years of age.  I haven’t posted a photo of him for years, and what made it into my social media feed was blurred or taken from the rear.

He only watches shows with permission and is only on-line when under supervision.  He is a sensitive child in some ways, robust in others. He has a great sense of humour and he is smart as a whip.  

He got the idea of filming his own shows. ‘Documents’ he called them. I twigged, he meant ‘documentaries’.

Nothing makes me happier than filming him and I am a willing camera person for our growing collection of family memories.

His subject matter for his first foray into screen time are his prized possessions. He has a lot of toys and books and things. So many things that we decided last Christmas we would stop buying him so many things. He’s given off signs for a while that the opening part of new things was fun, the playing with the item afterwards, not so much. Toys littered the floor and crammed shelves.  We started to narrow it down to, ‘what do you really love?’ and then we shop accordingly.

So his first video - I filmed it as a message for his aunty - was framed around ‘what toy had he missed out on for xmas but he would be delighted to see come from the Boxing Day sales?’

Thus came about his first short feature on the ‘Beyblade Burst Xcalius Master Kit’.  Not one of these rare and valued things could be found in any store in Adelaide on Boxing Day.  We ended up ordering it from the US and it arrived on 9 January 2018.

Ye Olde Spinnig Top

Xcalius is a very fancy version of a spinning top.  Turns out that years ago Dad made him a wooden spinning top in his shed.  It doesn't have any where near the features that grandson carefully explained on his three minute short.  We all have presents that were hand tooled in Dad’s shed.  One year it was wooden puzzles.  My sister has jewelry boxes.  I have a growing collection of wooden bowls.  We’ve now put in an order for mailboxes for correspondence with the Knee-Highs which Dad will have to get a wriggle on with as grandson may not believe there are little people living under my house for much longer.
Our first co-production, Land of the Knee-Highs, by Grandson and I

Where he got his public speaking skills from, I can only guess, but my grandson is a natural.  He is articulate, engaging and a skilled demonstrator.  What stretched my heart near to breaking point was on xmas day for the past few, he wears a elf cap.  He has no idea how cute he is in an elf’s cap.  He wears it all day and from every angle he is adorable.

Both parents were clear – ‘no youtube’ until he is a teenager, and then it is more likely to be a discussion about 'why does he want to?'  Or maybe he will work that out for himself because the pitfalls will be widely acknowledged. Maybe it just wont be cool by then.

Yes, some kids grow up to make a fortune out of it.  Well, they get older.

I knew a Vegemite kid years ago.  I can’t say he was horribly ruined by the exposure of being in a tv ad.  It may well have been a different story for him these days with the attendant bullying and grooming that is so much a part of online spaces.

I was less worried about what it would do to my grandson’s sense of self.  I can't see my grandson feeling the need to slather himself in fake tan, so five years ago, or fake ochre, so last year.  I’ll caution him against coming out as a young gun with a disruptive bent, because when those fearless interrogator’s age, they have to constantly shave a few years off to stay in the band.  Please be, he won't need to film himself, to take a good hard look at himself.  He will know with heart and mind that he is not diminished in anyway if he cares for those with less privileges than we've bestowed on him with loving attention.

We tell him to 'be kind always' and I ask a lot of questions when he tells me about his world.  He is curious and he leans in very close when we do things together.  He hugs me first and presses his face against the side of mine when we take photos.  He makes me laugh and smile and something lurches inside me when I think about him.

And when he remembers me years from now I want him to say, my nanna laughed all the time.  That’s my job.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Comic Relief

I was a country kid so I grew up on ABC. If you are of the same era, you know what I mean. Pretty much sun up and sun down screenings of shows imported from the UK.

Many of the shows from the 1970s and 1980s still stand up or maybe it’s nostalgia.  Fawlty Towers, The Good Life, Yes Minister, To The Manor Born told me a lot about England but mostly they made me laugh.  They were comedies set in a far away place with little resemblance to home.  They didnt make me feel blacker or invisible.  I watched them because they were funny and sometimes they were funny even when they were sad.  They did something to my insides.  

I remember when it began to jar a little amongst cultural gatekeepers, the frissons of resentment that somehow we weren’t proud of local content. I cant think of any shows of comedic note that were produced in Australia around that time. Seriously. I can’t.

Then and now I’ve never watched a tv show because I thought I had to.  I don’t think I am the only one.

The latest Dave Chappelle Netflix special to land on our screens is fresh air in a stuffy room. It is the very best of what a comedian should be.  I wont spoil it because of its many pleasures is to settle in and just let it envelop you. 

But yo, some may say, he has been doing this for a while. I know, but I am late to the David Chappelle party. I spent a lot of years where I just didn’t have time to watch tv, not when there were so many books that I wanted to read.  And Richard Pryor was so good I could watch him repeatedly.

I get that something happened. Dave got pissed off and walked away.  He stayed away. And now twelve years later he is back. 

Dave Chappelle makes it look so easy. Seemingly random jokes. He checks himself. He pauses. He laughs at his own jokes. But there is someone one very intelligent behind it all.  He pulls you in, he softens you up, he takes a jab or two and it’s all so well put together you cant see the stitching.  His performance is superb and for me a hundred times over because he is black.  He teaches me things I just didn’t get about America until I picked up on the nuances in his work.  He is laugh out loud funny. He is fearless and he is cunning. 

He makes me wonder about where Donald Glover goes from here. Atlanta was the standout comedy for me of 2017. Donald wrote it, developed it and stared in in.  And yes, there may be a country mile between these blokes.  If it wasn’t for their work who would know that there are differences and divides amongst black America?

Dave Chappelle is that rare artist whose generosity humbles us all. I am glad to hear he is making millions out of his work.

RATING:   All 4 Dave Chappelle specials - 5 stars. Worth the Netflix subscription alone.

And while you are there,  reacquaint yourself with Richard Pryor. And if you don't know him, check out Bill Burr.

And Atlanta is still up on SBS.