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I attended the Vertical Aerial Dance Studio’s performance of Grease last night.  That was truly 3-dimensional as it involved athletic young women, and one brave young man, shinnying up and down poles and putting on poses to music.

The guest from the juggling club and the belly dancer who performed in the intermissions were also enjoyable parts of the night’s entertainment.  I would like to know if I could learn how to tumble my fedora down my arms like the juggler could do with his trilby.  I think it would be too old and floppy now as I’ve had it for several years.  He recovered from his mistakes by smiling at the audience, shrugging, and continuing with his performance.  That takes confidence.  Perhaps some of them were deliberate, allowing him to flip his batons from the floor with his feet.

Watching the belly dancer reminded me of the performances of the Khamzin Tribe that I attended with my late friend Grace Gardner.  I’m starting to notice the different moves that a dancer can perform.  It takes time.

Our erstwhile volunteer from the Archives was not performing last night.  She was about the studio working as the stage manager.  She tells me she will be performing for the next concert Superheroes.

I need to remember not to hurry to be early in attendance.  Their organization for time is pretty relaxed.

Made sure to be at the Farmers Market today as the Blue Oyster Art Space Project was the sponsored charity at the market this week and they were selling carry bags, a good chance to add to my collection with a uniquely decorated bag.  I came away with one labelled Berry Hadron Collision by Kristina Marotzke.  There were ten printed of each of six designs and I have number nine of that design.  I guess they had keen support from their supporters.  Apparently the ice cream in that flavour will be available next year.

Friend-Link were “at home” at Donald Beasley Hall to celebrate 20 years of their organisation  and I made sure to visit them at lunch-time while my friend Graeme Russell was there.  I spoke to him and he is looking well.  I stayed half an hour before leaving to get home and do some washing.  I may have missed out on the better weather of the day which was in the morning.

The weekend that was

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I visited theBlue Oysterfor a talk on photography on Saturday.  I confess I was disappointed.  I was hoping for a talk on the history of photography.  It was the second of two talks.  The first, which I understand was at the opening of the exhibition, was the presentation on photographic art history that an artist outside of Dunedin had prepared.  Displaying alongside it was a screen of photographs selected by a lecturer in photography in Dunedin as his reflection on the original screening of photographs.  I could see the unity in the first screen, the second which was the response to the first left me confused, and the talk was on the second screen.  I had hoped that what we would get was an introduction to the history of photography.  The display was on art photography, which from an archivist’s perspective, did not interest me.  Perhaps I like photography with provinance, and this wasn’t provided for me.  I left as soon as I could.

Much to my delight I went and saw Wagner’s Dream at the Rialto on Sunday.  I watched with delight as the producer and the stage team at the Metropolitan Opera built the Machine on stage.  They won over the diehard Wagnerian fans with their vision and managed to introduce new people to opera.  That’s quite an accomplishment.  There were appearances by Stephanie Blythe and Bryn Tyrfel.  This was the Ring cycle that introduced the lovely Deborah Voigt as Brünhilda and Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried.  The latter from Texas, legendarily taking up the role with only four days before the opening night as the original singer fell ill and he trumped the role.  Future appearances by both of them are going to be fun to look out for.

And there was a brief appearance of my favourite moment as the Machine became the winged horse Grane bearing Brünhilda and Sieglinde away from the vengeful Wotan.  All in all, a pleasing and uplifting afternoon’s theatre going.

Transforming Dunedin

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The Blue Oyster’s Facebook page alerted me to a symposium for Creative Arts and Culture being held in Dunedin.  It seemed a worthwhile event to attend.  If I wanted to justify it I could claim to be representing my work at the Presbyterian Archives Research Centre, or Opoho Presbyterian Church who have held three art events over the last few years.  I could learn something.  The first event was held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.  Dunedin’s art community came out in force to enjoy wine and a bite-sized supper with Dunedin dignitaries.  I met a friend from Reseach Write NZ at the event and we arranged to travel together the next day to the main symposium meeting at the Dunedin School of Art.  (Did you know that there is space there for community art groups to use?)  It turned out that the Dunedin art community will turn out in bigger numbers to talk about what they want to transform Dunedin into a creative city.

My notes from the day:

  • Creativity = autonomy of thought = sustainability
  • Central Wellington has gentrified under a creative über-class with the service people coming in from the suburbs (Eloi and Morlocks?)
  • The Christchurch earthquake means that a permanent re-building may take up to 30 years.  That’s three generations.  In the meantime they are looking at making their creative centre into a circus city
  • When the city asks for submissions then make a submission.  Don’t just complain.  Tell them what they are doing right.  They love to hear that.
  • Waitakere City, now part of the Auckland Super-city established art laureates.  Maybe Dunedin should be looking to do the same.  Hearing about what Waitakere has done as to be a creative city proved to be fun and interesting.  A library is a community’s living room; public art can use history as a legacy

Biggest complaint of the weekend: using the corridor as a lunch room was not a good idea for 300 people.  It was great to see Dunedin’s creative people close up and meet with them.  Some of whom I knew.  Interestingly enough few church people came out for the event that I recognised.

867 Hours Underground

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The Blue Oyster Gallery had its first artist talk today by resident artist Scott Flanagan.  The artwork was made out of recycled recording tape and cassettes woven and attached to the wall so it becomes a reflective surface.  It includes a contemplative pool.

I find mirrors sinister.  They reflect the universe behind a glassy surface.  Sometimes when I’m surprised by a mirror I fear that I’m looking into the abyss, especially in the dark.  In the Book of Imaginary Beings Jorge Luis Borges records a Chinese legend that the Yellow Emperor imprisoned monsters in mirrors so that they must reflect the viewer until such time as the spell breaks and they release havoc on the world again.  China Mièville referenced this myth in his short story The Tain.

The artwork is dedicated to Ada Lovelace, the nineteenth century mathematician who appears in William Gibson’s steampunk novel The Difference Engines as the Queen of Engines.

The work was evocative to me of one of my favorite pieces from the Dunedin Art Gallery’s Beloved exhibition which also involves recycled recording tape.  I will have to get in there tomorrow to reference the piece.  Update: the work I was thinking of was When the Sun Rises and the Shadows Flee by Reuben Paterson, if that floor display is part of it.  The wall display is fascinating to watch.

The official opening of the Blue Oyster exhibition will be later this week.  At the moment it is still a work in progress.

Dear Diary


The Conlang Exchange Cards are in the post. This is a relief as I have received three more this week: Greetings from Douglas Koller, and Jim Henry III, and the seven days of festivity under the twin moons of Safiria.

I’m checking over what I’ve done for the last week, apart from make cards.

  • An artist talk at the Blue Oyster for the display Walk
  • The Dunedin Harmony Chorus performed at the Art Gallery for Christmas. Their conductor, my friend L’Enfant de Jeu was looking so swish!
  • My local Labour Party urban tribe got excited about our new leadership
  • One of the cleaners took two of us for a tour around the Castle
  • The local archives got together for a little end-of-year event
  • Presbyterian Archives staff and volunteers went out for lunch
  • The Hewitson Library held an Advent Party, the highlight of which was a recital of Dido’s Lament by Purcell accompanied on the harpsicord (um, ok!)
  • I found out today that a children’s book on Genesis from 1910 is valuable for its rarity and coloured plates by Charles Robinson. It would be more valuable if the cover could be restored. The historic bookbinder in Oamaru was recommended. So anyone going that way, could they let me know? (And no, I don’t want to sell it!)
  • Facing Animals in Recent Art

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    Saturday’s event was the above lecture presented at the Blue Oyster Art Project Space by Dr Cecilia Novero of the German Department at the University of Otago.  The art discussed was Frank by Jenny Gillam.  Five small video screens are displayed on three walls.  Frank, a young terrier, is recorded by five still cameras as he investigates the art gallery.  He goes around the walls sniffing them and is well behaved that he doesn’t mark his territory.  He stops and investigates a floor level speaker producing bird-song.  The scene is evocative of the famous trade-mark, His Master’s Voice.  Eventually he loses interest and goes on his way.  The videos recycle and they are not synchronous.  There is a lot of time when the viewer is looking for Frank in the gallery’s empty space as he disappears from view.  The viewer can move from screen to screen looking for him.

    Frank does not interact with the cameras.  Whenever I see a dog on television reaching out to sniff the camera I move in closer so I can physically interact with the dog.  I want to get closer to the animal, engage it on its level of vision, which is a lower perspective than that of a human; to know the touch of its nose, and the smell of its fur.  Being on a screen this is impossible.  The viewer cannot know if Frank imagines the art space in the same way as the visitor.  Indeed it is unlikely.  We cannot know what he was smelling.  We weren’t there at the same time, otherwise we would have related to Frank on the screen.  We are in the same space, the difference in time separates us.  We cannot share with Frank what he smells and to what he listens as his sense of smell and hearing are distinct from ours and more finely tuned.

    I am so afraid of people’s words.
    They describe so distinctly everything:
    And this they call dog and that they call house,
    here the start and there the end.

    I worry about their mockery with words,
    they know everything, what will be, what was;
    no mountain is still miraculous;
    and their house and yard lead right up to God.

    I want to warn and object: Let the things be!
    I enjoy listening to the sound they are making.
    But you always touch: and they hush and stand still.
    That’s how you kill.

    Rainer Maria Rilke, In Celebration of Me, 1909

    I learnt that when Post-humanism gets mixed up it becomes Compost-humanism, post-humanism mixed with other things, its own melange.  When Dr Novero mentioned a feminist whose feminism had ‘gone to the dogs’, especially the ones she lived with, I wondered if this could count as ‘caninism’, but I jest.  It was a fun way to share a cold afternoon.  It challenges my apres-garde sensibilities of art.

    My life as a….

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    I like adding new things to my face-book interests so having been told that the Blue Oyster Art Project Space had a presence there I went and checked out the page. Pages actually, there are two of them. I was bemused to discover that the most recent news on one page was a review I had done after my visit for a talk that they had on there. Good grief! Am I the only person in the blogosphere who is reviewing Dunedin as a space of art and culture and public events? It would be humbling if it was true. I have no qualifications to be a critic, or say if music, dance or displayed art is good. Where are the real people who should be doing this?

    I plan to continue blogging about events that I attend and that I find fun. People who stumble over my blogsite are going to be surprised by the eclectic mix of things that I have discovered. Perhaps I’m not as broad-minded as I make out to be.

    And shout out when your event is on. I’ll be glad to come and see. Look out for the little guy in the big green felt fedora. That’s me. I think I’m slowly turning into an old identity in this city. And if you think my opinion is wrong then tell me, or if it is right. It’s the only way I’ll learn better.

    Maybe I should go talk to the people at Hidden Dunedin. It could yet prove that I am a force for good.

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