February 28, 2014
A perfect example of the Fashion/Art crossover, Aych McArdle’s Skin/Shell series uses materials and tactile symbols to point to ideas of anatomy, skin, exterior appearance and identity. McArdle has created these encasements, almost a skin that had been shed and discarded, that play on the abject nature of bodies themselves and our experiences within them. These encasements, embellished with fluerettes and sparkles, seem to represent the manner in which we can present, and represent ourselves endlessly, but also the fragility of that presentation. These genderless cases, adorned with what could be perceived as feminine decorations, all original in their construction, show an element of the uniqueness and the absence of any limitations of Queerness.
I'm feeling energized and ready to start investigating where this work might go next. I'm really interested in generating feelings of stillness and quietness in my art practice. It is only when we have the capacity to really hear each other that real connections can occur. With each other, with planet earth and within our selves.
February 25, 2014
My dear friend Eleanor Barker posted some very good questions on social media over the last few days in response to the latest advertising campaign from Karen Walker Eyewear. Her posts to the Karen Walker Eyewear Facebook page have since been deleted. I asked if she could elaborate a little further and write a guest post for us on the campaign imagery in the form of an open letter. I invite Karen Walker Eyewear to respond and engage in this conversation. Let's get some dialogue started!
Firstly, I would like to make a disclaimer that I am not speaking on behalf of POC (people of colour). I am a white woman who is speaking for herself. I was asked by Aych (who I adore) to write a short letter on my thoughts on this (I had a big rant on social media today - and rightly got called out for my use of the term 'poverty porn') so have agreed on the proviso that everyone is very clear that this is my (white, privileged) opinion only.
Can we talk about your latest Karen Walker Eyewear campaign?
Firstly, I should talk about what I like about the campaign.
I like that you are selling pouches, which are made by Kenyan artisans, with your new sunglasses collection "Visible". The mission to "provide work for marginalized people who have a strong desire to change their lives" is a great one.
From your press release, I understand that Karen Walker Visible aims to lend their "infectious credibility" (whatever that means) to make a "real and meaningful difference" to the women of the remote village of Waihaka, just outside of Nairobi. All good so far.
Despite your best intentions, there are a few major issues with this campaign:
1. According to The Herald (they should be really embarrassed by their coverage on this) this campaign aims to fight the "plight of poverty-stricken African region" by using Kenyan workers to model your *extremely* expensive eye-wear.
Did anyone stop to think about this juxtaposition?
Your product is symbol of hyper affluence that your models would never be able to afford. This strikes me as tacky.
2. These sunglasses are made in China. It strikes me as a real oversight by the Ethical Fashion Initiative to ally with a brand who manufactures their products in a country with an extremely tarnished history of sweatshop labour. If you do in fact employ sweatshops, the hypocrisy inherent here is just foul. Sweatshops do not alleviate poverty.
The whole thing is so disingenuous when no one is asking questions around the dignity of the humans who make the glasses in the first place. Are the Chinese workers not 'editorial' enough?
Since I should not make assumptions based on the country of your sunglasses' origin, I would like you to please provide some information about the factories you use for KWE manufacturing. Do the women working there get paid fairly, do they get treated with the dignity that you advocate for artisans in Kenya?
I would also like to know how much money from the sale of this collection is going directly to these Kenyan workers.
All photos by Derek Henderson / Supplied
Karen Walker responds in this interview over on 3News. Thank you for all of the comments on Facebook, via Twitter and email. I have been overwhelmed with the response from all sides of this discussion. Isn't this awesome to have dialogue about the stuff that we buy? Long may it continue. - Aych x
February 19, 2014
Happy Auckland Pride!
If you are in Auckland right now you will hear me when I say that this city looks like one big glitter cannon exploded and painted the town rainbow. We are three quarters of the way through the festival I'm exhausted! So many amazing events in such short space of time.
Forever, Geoffrey Heath (2005)
One event that I'm really excited about is the exhibition "Anatomy is not Destiny" on right now in St Kevins Arcade on K Road. The brainchild of Chris Lorimer of Ciel PR this exhibition brings together 10 artists exploring themes of desire, gender, attraction and uniqueness all through the lens of the queer and/or gender fab identities. And I am honored to be one of them!
ANATOMY IS NOT DESTINY creates a space to explore the bodies we move in and the shells we encase them in and to celebrate the diverse sexualities and gender perspectives that we collectively embody.
Curator Chris Lorimer (well known locally as a stylist and PR) found his inspiration and title for the show in an essay “How Fashion Is Queer” by UK writer and critic Alison Bancroft. In it she proposes Fashion has “zero regard for hetero-normative ideas” and that Fashion is a place where queer ideas become culturally active.
ANATOMY IS NOT DESTINY holds up a mirror up to the wider LGBTQI community, celebrating the diversity and creativity inherent in our Queer-er world. Impressing upon the participating artists and the exhibition viewers alike that that gender identity is not always anatomical - we can be whomever we want to be, that no matter how we start out, our journey allows us to re-invent ourselves along the way.
Featuring work from Lula Cucchiara, Russ Flatt, Young Sun Han, Geoffrey Heath, Shigeyuki Kihara, Aych McArdle, Richard Maloy, Richard Orjis, Alex Plumb, David K. Shields
My work entitled "Skin/Shell" is in the exhibition (you can't miss it, it is in the window!) and I have written a short essay drawing some thoughts about gender and queerness that you can pick up and take home.
ANATOMY IS NOT DESTINY is open from today till Sunday, 10am - 4pm.
Hit me up if you fancy a coffee/cup of tea and a tour through the works!
Thanks for the support of GABA, the K’Rd Business Association and Hancock & Co.
January 27, 2014
Photo / Getty Images
Huge congratulations to Lorde and her team for winning the Grammys for song of the year and best pop solo performance! Before collecting her wins, Lorde gave paired back performance of Royals and killed it:
I felt so warm and happy inside when Ella (and Joel Little) gave these acceptance speeches:
If you weren't able to follow every detail of her whirlwind experience live, I have compiled a list of Tweets for your reading pleasure including the inside scoop from Amber D on how she created Lorde's grammy lip colour:
And you know... We're on each other's team. #LORDE #CLEANINGUP #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/jRwHkPYfPE
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 27, 2014
Those lips though right? Cyber & heroine lipsticks together ..... Vino pencil. #lorde @maccosmetics
— Amber D (@MAC_Amber_D) January 27, 2014
CAN WE ALL HAVE A DAY OFF TOMORROW IN HONOUR OF LORDE?
— Aych McArdle (@AychMcArdle) January 27, 2014
Lorde wore her Meadowlark rings for her Grammy performance. So stoked, proud and a little teary over here. #GRAMMYs #lorde
— Meadowlark Jewellery (@MEADOWLARKnz) January 27, 2014
Lorde beat Timberlake. As you do. Just another day. Just another day.
— David Farrier (@davidfarrier) January 27, 2014
So when's the ticker tape parade?
— Jimmy D (@jimmyd_was_here) January 27, 2014
If Lorde can stop Robin Thicke "Blurred Lines" from winning a Grammy it will be my proudest moment as a New Zealander. #Lorde
— Guy Williams (@guywilliamsguy) January 26, 2014
Congratulations Ella, Joel and team, you win at life x x
January 20, 2014
On Friday night I was lucky enough to attend an advanced screening of the documentary BLACKFISH before it is released in Auckland tomorrow. This eye opening documentary directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite explores the events that lead to three separate deaths by the killer whale Tilikum while in captivity.
I was blown away by the unveiling of the business of animal theme parks. This documentary explains in a non-sensationalist way how corporations like Sea World systematically exploit both animals and their trainers for the highest dollar even when the cost could be the loss of life.
Tilikum, the Orca at the centre of this documentary has been linked to three trainer deaths that have been put down to "trainer error" or accident. Sadly there have been many other cases at other aquatic parks in the U.S where trainers have lost their lives by captive Orcas.
The documentary paints a picture of the psychosis suffered by Orcas living in what is proportionately, a bathtub for their entire lives and calls for immediate change in how we interact with and study this ocean giant.
I also learned a tone of facts about the Orca that blew me away. Did you know that neurologists have discovered that when comparing an Orca and human brain that the Orca has an extra mass of tissue in their brain that is responsible for processing emotions? Neurologists explain that Orca are more emotionally evolved and quite possibly generally smarter than us. Yet we capture their young and force them to grow up in a bathtub. That sounds traumatic to my small human brain so imagine the distress these creatures experience?