Media

Te ao pāpāho

We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.

Rafiki screens again
Women’s Countercinema in Auckland
Living with AIDS photos 30 years on
Blogs

We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.

Rafiki screens again

Rafiki was a hugely important inclusion in the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival. It’s a Kenyan film, banned in Kenya (an exception was made for seven days in September, to enable it to qualify for consideration for Best Foreign Language movie at the Oscars).

Two young women from opposing political backgrounds fall in love in a Kenya where homosexuality is unlawful – it’s not an easy story, but a powerful one. Go to Wikipedia for details of plot, cast and the ban.

Director Wanuri Kahiu will be attending screenings in October, in Otaki, Wellington and Auckland.

  • Auckland, Thursday 26 October, 6pm followed by Q&A with director Wanuri Kahiu. Rialto Cinema Newmarket, bookings online but not yet open
  • Wellington, Sunday 28 October, 3pm, followed by a Q & A with director Wanuri Kahiu. Te Auaha cinema, Dixon St. Tickets via Conferize
  • Wellington, Monday 29 October, 6pm, with director Wanuri Kahiu present. Beehive Theatrette, New Zealand Parliament, Pipitea, hosted by Jan Logie and Grant Robertson as guest.I nvitation only, but feel free to ask for an invitation. Details on Medium website
  • Otaki, Tuesday 30 October, 6pm, Maoriland Hub, 68 Main St, Otaki. Director Wanuri Kahiu will be present.

Women’s Countercinema in Auckland

The There She Goes: Women’s Countercinema in the 20th Century event has four screenings in October:

  • Friday 5, 8pm, Born in flames
  • Sunday 7, 2pm, Woman, Demon, Human
  • Friday 19, 6.30pm, Jeanne Deilman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
  • Friday 26, 8pm, Wanda

While it describes itself as a small selection of women’s cinematic output, the show highlights the radical work done by women within the (obstacle-ridden) field of cinema.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page and for tickets and trailers, go to the Academy cinema website.

Living with AIDS photos 30 years on

The recent launch of reprinted albums from Fiona Clark’s 1988 photography exhibition Living with AIDS was both “sad and celebratory”, she says. She is pictured below speaking at the launch.

FC talkingThe three books feature photographs of Sherrin English, Peter Warren, Alastiar Hall and Grant Cotter, who all had HIV or AIDs in 1988. Sherrin was the only woman with HIV who was public at the time, and “active in the methadone programme”, says Fiona.

They were pictured at home or work, with friends and family, and their handwritten stories accompany the images. At the time of the exhibition there was no treatment for HIV. “I was amazed at the incredible hysteria and the myths that seemed to be generated about it,” says Fiona. For her, the photos were a response to the lesbian and gay community she was part of.

“There was sadness as well as a sense of joy” at the launch, she says. “People don’t die now and it’s a very different world. Some of the family members and carers from that time turned up – I hadn’t seen them for 30 years.”

“People have been surprised by the books,” she says. “People were quite emotional, and I was too because I had friends who died. It reminded people of the very tough times of that crisis. I was surprised too, because 30 years ago there was no sense of celebration, no relief.”

“People of another generation didn’t know any of that had happened. They had no sense of how it would be to be 20 and lose three friends in one year the same age as you. Now people live with HIV, it’s not a death sentence.”

The original photographs were presented as “oversized albums that you had to touch and turn the pages to read each person’s story,” says Fiona. “They were very intimate and I made only one copy.” Two had photographs and stories and the third had comments about the photos from visitors to the exhibitions. The originals were acquired by Te Papa last summer.

The images were negotiated with the subjects, who also wrote in the albums. “That’s been how I work, really collaboratively with the people I’m photographing; making sure people have an equal say, so it’s not them and the viewer.”

The faces of three of the people are turned away or obscured. “Grant had already lost his flat because he had HIV, and everyone agreed not to put people at risk any further because it was so stressful, they knew they were dying. They’d given so much and I said ‘You don’t have to give any more than you need to’.”

FC GrahamBut Peter felt he had less to lose because he was very ill and didn’t know “whether he would be there when the albums were published. He died within six months of the exhibition.”

“I like the one of Peter walking back from the dairy with the bottle of milk (left),” says Fiona. The dairy owner had previously refused to serve him. “That was all Peter could do that day and he gave it to me. I think it comes across in the photograph – the effort of the walk and the ordinariness of it.”

Peter, Alastair, Sherrin and Grant came to the exhibition opening in 1988 at the Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt. “Discrimination was still rife,” says Fiona. “People hadn’t caught on that it was illegal, they still thought they could discriminate, and they believed you could get HIV from exchanging money from someone with the virus.”

The albums were shown at the 5th International AIDS Conference in Montreal and in Perth in 1989, at the International Candlelight Memorial at Parliament Buildings in 1990, at the Michael Lett Gallery in 2015, and at Artspace in 2016.

Current photographs

Fiona is photographing the changes from the oil and gas industry in the Taranaki landscape where she lives. This continues work she started in the 1970s, which led to the 1980s series Te iwi o te wāhi kore (the people with nothing) about local Māori concern about pollution of the kai moana around the coast after their land had long ago been confiscated.

FC 2015“Environmental change is far more extreme now, I see climate change all the time in the clouds coming from the production stations and the flaring at night. It’s very difficult to articulate what climate change looks like; I’m trying to image what we’re living amidst here. At 2am you can walk around without any light because the flares are so bright.” Fiona’s photos above are from the Climate Justice Taranaki site.

“I sleep on fracked ground; fracking started in 2005 and I live next to a sleeping volcano. She’s gonna wake up soon, I reckon.”

FC bookLiving with AIDS was published by Michael Lett, comes in a slip cover and included an essay by David Herkt, which places Fiona’s collaborative and caring images in the context of the hysteria and victim-blaming of the time. They also include a conversation between Fiona and Ron Brownson. The suite of books cost $85 and are available from the gallery website. Jenny R

Blogs and pages you’ll like

Who are you reading?  Here’s our blog roll; send us links for other lesbian blogs.

Blogs and sites from Aotearoa

The Charlotte Museum “The Charlotte Museum Trust is part of a network of archives preserving lesbian culture for the benefit and understanding of future generations in New Zealand. This is where the Charlotte Museum blogs about her exhibitions, events, archives and lesbian history.”
Making a Peanut, chronicles Grace & Em’s baby making adventures, and a collection of information that may help fellow kiwi lesbians navigate the road to motherhood.
We don’t have to be the building, a blog about Sian Torrington’s project of the same name, about lesbian, bi-sexual, queer female bodied, trans* and female identified activists both 30 years ago during Homosexual Law Reform, and now” who are telling our personal stories as a form of activism”. Sian drew and interviewed lesbian, queer and trans* women for an exhibition in Wellington in 2016 and Auckland in 2017.
Renée’s Wednesday Busk
He Hōaka Kim Mcbreen’s queer Māori political blog.
Out There Pat Rosier’s perceptive comments on her reading and the writing process, the last posts very poignant after her death in 2014.
The Hand Mirror Lesbian, queer and other feminist writing by a variety of bloggers.
Egg Venturous Claire Gummer’s whimsical writing about her backyard chooks and beyond.
Butch on Butch A Facebook page of photographs and comments.
I’m local Info and resources for queer & gender diverse youth around Aotearoa.

Blogs from elsewhere

Carolyn Gage A playwright, also a writer of lengthy and thoughtful blog posts.
diva grp2Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA) Fiji An active group of young lesbians linking their human rights with gender, social, ecological and constitutional justice; also on Twitter (@diva4equality).
Feminine Moments – Queer Feminist Art Worldwide An art blog that “presents fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer women artists worldwide”.
Isle of Lesbos “A place of art, culture, and learning dedicated to lesbian and bisexual women.”
Lesbians Over Everything A place where lesbians can share our own stories. Segments include “Aaah real lesbians” and “Everyday lesbophobia”.
The Lesbrary “The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog”. Maintains its own “(Lesbian) Book Blog” roll (16 at last count).
Listening 2 Lesbians A page recording women’s experiences of being abused or silenced as lesbians and of being subjected to misogyny and lesbophobia within and outside the community;news stories on lesbian rights, violence and discrimination against the lesbian community.
Lizzy the Lezzy Lizzy started as an animated stand up comedian. The website hasn’t been updated since 2016, but she also has a Facebook presence.
Not writing but blogging is Stella Duffy, Pākehā Londoner, also on Twitter as @stellduffy.
Robin Morgan is an American poet, author, political theorist and activist, journalist, lecturer and radical feminist.
Sister Outrider is the award winning blog of Claire Heuchan, a Black radical feminist from Scotland, with a website, Facebook and Twitter online presence.
The Total Femme “Your friendly neighborhood femme mom bookworm” has a Meditation for Queer Femmes posted Mondays, links to other blog posts or articles in “Pingy-Dingy Wednesday”, Fridays highlight queer femmes from all walks of life.
Women You Should Know “a digital media property and community all about dynamic women …” with a website and Facebook presence.

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