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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Week 5b, 20-24 April 2020

Commencement of classes online, ANZAC yarn bomb and artist talk by Shannon Te Ao.


Following mid-semester break, Art Studio classes resumed online via Zoom and a new meta-schedule with adjusted assignment due dates was released. It is a vastly different learning environment but everyone is doing their best to make it work. Adaptability is the artist's friend!


While waiting in the queue outside our local supermarket (one of the enjoyable social occasions brought about by Covid19) I met a friend who mentioned Eastbourne's ANZAC memorial would be unadorned this year due to lockdown, unlike previous years where crocheted poppies festooned the school fence surrounding the memorial. So I went home and started crocheting as ANZAC was in 2 days time!

After crocheting about 60 poppies, and trying to form them into some semblance of a shape, I found myself asking about the materiality of the process - how could it be made more evident? So I brought all the castoff threads to the front of the poppies and allowed the joining threads to remain in long strands, which spoke to art conventions of line, layering and meaning.

The finished object of assembled poppies seemed along way from the individual crotcheted poppies and presented an opportunity to reflect on a question discussed in the Art Studio Zoom meeting earlier that week- what is CRAFT and what is FINE ARTS?

3. ARTIST TALK - SHANNON TE AO, Ka mua,ka muri

Ka mua,ka muri , "walking backwards into the future".

This whakatauki is the title of Shannon's new short film and provides a philosophical inspiration to "imagine the place you are in, in a different way" and to "hold these differences in tension with each other".

The film takes the viewer on a journey between two places. It is nighttime, and two women are driving in a car, either going towards or returning to a place. Held in this moment of in-between, each woman sings a waiata, slowly filling the silent empty space with a poignancy and an intimacy. Sung in Te Reo, the meaning of the words escapes me, but the harmonies linger within to resonate with moments of sadness that I had forgotten. The waiata becomes a hand that reaches inside to cradle my sorrow.

The film is shot in black and white, which lends a dreamlike, atmospheric tone to the movie. By removing all distractions of the world, this genre allows the film to focus on what matters - the intimate space between two people.

The poetic quality inherent in Te Reo is important to Shannon and he refers to the writings of Franco "Bifo" Berardi - The Uprising: on Poetry and Finance (2012), Breathing (2018) and The Second Coming (2019). Berardi is an "Italian communist philosopher, whose work focuses on the role of the media and information technology within post-industrial capitalism" (Wikipedia). Berardi proposes that poetry "holds the ability to understand what cannot be expressed in forms that have a finite syntax. Ambiguity, nuance and dialectic models work against the kinds of language interfaces prevalent today, that turn meaning into information.


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