This has been a lucky couple of weeks for me as I’ve had the opportunity to attend some brain-expanding conferences. We’ve already covered the NDF conference multiple times so I won’t do that again, but this week I have attended the If we never met indigenous art curating wānanga and The End of Fashion conference. These two kaupapa (art and fashion) occupy two different yet overlapping areas of my interests, the intersections of which I have detailed below.
It was humbling to be on a marae this week for the wānanga with some artists, curators and writers whose work I have long admired. I even managed to keep the fangirl levels in check and meet a few of these people whose work I have long held as very-bloody-important. These people are superstars to me not least of all due to their commitment to give back to their communities.
The End of Fashion provided another pinch myself moment where I got to hear from Valerie Steele, curator and director at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and who has been described as the ‘Lady Gaga and Socrates of fashion’. Also in attendance were the founders of Zambesi and Nom d who were positively dripping with cool, and when I relayed this to my husband he said “I don’t even know what mondy is.” Love him.
2. Culture shock
It was quite a strange feeling for me to go from a predominantly brown wānanga to a conference where myself and my colleague were the only brown people present. This manifested by indigeneity changing from being the centre of the conversation, a conversation that was led by indigenous people, to being either a conversation led by an other or not considered at all. This has got me thinking so much, I’m torn between the need for others who work with indigenous taonga/whakaaro/people to learn from us, and us needing to have our own spaces determined by our own needs, tempered by our own kaupapa. What is most important to me is that our practice isn’t compromised by having to teach others how to be woke and respectful.
If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them as it’s a concept I’m finding it hard to grapple with.
3. Kanohi ki te Kanohi
What was clearest from me after the wānanga was that it was important that we got to be in the same place. Actually Bridget said that, thanks for being so wise e hoa. It was then proposed by a different colleague at the fashion conference that we have an indigenous fashion conference. So, watch this space I guess?!
4. Young voices
It’s been my biggest affirmation this year: the youngest voices are often the most exciting. At the wānanga I found Ioana Gordon-Smith’s kōrero the most relevant, progressive, provocative and interesting. She was who best deconstructed and expanded what it is to be indigenous and an indigenous curator for me. I loved her line about treating artists as people and “put indigeneity in their own hands”, let them define themselves. And in an advocacy role like curating, that is a powerful thing to do. There were many other hot takes that I *praise emoji* at too but hope to compile them better later.
At the fashion conference a speaker talked about how Marilyn Sainty, earlier in her career, advocated for younger judges to be brought in to judge the Benson and Hedges as that would bring in younger designers. I can’t actually remember from the talk whether or not that happened but again, it was the younger voice that advocated for change.
5. Stop hate
Lastly for today, this is not a GLAM-related kaupapa but it is people related and really, isn’t GLAM all about people? Earlier in the year I had an interaction with someone who was spreading some horrific kōrero about trans people with the twitter interaction ending in us blocking each other. Since then, the same woman has written multiple other pieces and open letters against trans people. I think it’s disgusting behaviour so please read below and sign up if you can.
On that note, please enjoy the beautiful sunshine Tamanui te Ra has blessed us with and have a great weekend. Me rongo atu koe ki tenei waiata ataahua o te kaiwaiata Māori (doitz) Ria Hall, love will lead us home indeed!
Actually, here's a bonus because it's my fave song of hers: