Artsy Fartsy Times!
Hi guys – how was your week last week? Fun? Productive? Well I climbed inside a giant prop head from Xena Warrior Princess (after taking off my shoes of course) and then, while inside and contemplating a nap, asked a bratz doll oracle for some life advice. Plus I saw some experimental Korean girl band play a very interesting concert, oh and had to stare down a screaming painted guy in his underwear. You know, the usual.
So, the giant in head question (seen above) was part of an exhibit at the City Gallery here in Wellington. It is a truly great gallery, with an excellent mix of global contemporary shows and shows concerning New Zealand (and Wellington in particular) culture and heritage. This show (with the head) was called “Apocalyptic Intuition” by NZ native Rohan Wealleans. The show involved two giant movie props (the head) which you could crawl into:
(not my picture, I’m not being a creeper taking photos of little blonde girls) BUT you get the idea – a very big head you can crawl around in. Inside was a ceiling covered with crystals and colored stones, and then there was a bratz doll (decorated by having its face replaced with a big sort of geodesic glass dome thing) – the gallery attendant prompted us to “ask the oracle a question” – I forgot what I asked, but I’m sure the response was very wise. (“you GO girl!”)
The show also contained a big bust from some other movie based in (well, filmed in) Australasia. It was cool.:
It was REALLY big, and covered in impressive layered hand-painted things, that sort of looked like someone dripped hundreds of layers of paint over it and then carved them away, leaving a tree-ring sort of effect. It was gorgeous.
Finally, the show had a wall of paintings that were supposed to be symbolic of the apocalyptic wizard’s origins and mythos.
These were gorgeous too – and seemed to use the same paint layering/carving process. Now, I’m not going to go all art-historian analysis on this thing (too much pressure! too boring! I’m doing way too much of that for my dissertation!) BUT this was a GREAT show in my opinion. Yes, it was incredibly silly – but it was fun, engaging, witty, aesthetically beautiful (and innovative), and overall a good time, that left you thinking about it for awhile after. Now – what about these Korean ladies?
These gals are, as you can see, the Michelangelo Pistoletto Band. (Yes, named after the artist). They hail from South Korea and had an exhibition of music videos at the City Gallery. (I’ll put some of my favorites up at the end of this post to save on loading delays) – I absolutely loved their music and the style of their videos – I felt like I could have stared at them pretty much forever — very calming, very hypnotic. They basically go to abandoned or out of the way, or just generally interesting places all over Asia and then sing (in an exaggeratedly lip synched manner) various styles of songs. Plus sometimes they wear wedding dresses (as you can see). SO I was THRILLED to learn that they were performing a concert live at the Gallery! Of course we went (last Wednesday) and it was really cool – it made me feel simultaneously hip and old.
The opening act was a performance art/dj sort of duo called Fiends. You can read an interview with them and see a less fuzzy dark picture than the ones I’ll be putting in below here. So, basically these guys just dj-ed for about 40 minutes and then the show started. And what a show it was.
It began with this guy (Simon from Fiends) taking off his shirt and shoes, and then start moaning and grunting and running up to people in the audience and staring at them HARD. He proceeded to put on some face and body paint, all the while making slightly guttural sounds. To be honest, at times it really, really reminded me of some of the sketches in Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy show where he is trying to be super weird and somewhat French. Like this:
yep, thats kinda what they sounded like – but with MUCH more yelling and anger. And then he took his pants off. (Grant’s response to this “don’t take off your underwear, don’t take off your underwear, please don’t touch my face with you manly bits”) :
Some more paint was applied, more grunting and jumping, some grinding, some flashy glasses, no underwear removals, and then it was done. Now, you may think this sounds stupid, but actually, I could appreciate what they were doing with sound and emotions -and at times the music was decent – and it was fun. Well done, fiends. And then, the MPB! In their videos they are so cool and detached – and so very, very good about choosing how they frame themselves — so I was wondering (almost with impending disappointment) how they would maintain all that in the flesh. WELL – they did an AWESOME job. Go look at those photos above of Fiends – without the flash of the camera you couldn’t tell there was a window behind them, but when they were done playing the screen raised up and BOOM they were behind the window, standing outside.
this picture really in no way captures the awesomeness of the moment – I literally squealed out loud at Grant. So then they played two songs. And….. that. was. it. Everyone got up, the lights turned on, and we were like “TWO SONGS??!” “WHAT?” I want the money I didn’t pay for this free show back! BUT not to worry, after about ten to fifteen minutes we heard some music coming from the other side of the gallery, and everyone rushed over to the main stairway to see:
them on the stairs in wedding dresses! It was very cool, and they played some more, including my second favorite song of theirs (they played the fist one in the window) “Blue High” which is a funny take on the song “Pale Blue Eyes” by the Velvet Underground.
And then the one on the right died of an air guitar mega-overdose meltdown:
So then everyone milled around expectantly, wondering if they would pop up somewhere else, but they didn’t. However, there was a scurry of people up the steps, so we followed and there were Fiends again doing a “response” to the MPB.
They played around with a record player and an iphone, then started everyone on a sort of acapellla sing-along. Then this turned into a dance party involving lots of people wearing ironic wind breakers.
This is when I felt most old.
Anyway – all in all, a fun night! And it was free! I like Wellington! Oh, and because no blog would be complete without a mention of food, later that week Grant and I had Malaysian food, which I had never had before arriving in NZ (nor had he). It’s really good, sort of a mix between Indian and Thai food. We had roti (which is like naan, but sort of like, more oily underbaked squished down naan. (but in a yummy way!) And I had beef rendang which is DELICIOUS and I highly recommend if you eat meat and are trying Malaysian for the first time. Grant had a seafood laksa, also delicious.
Here are some of the MPB’s videos that were shown at the gallery show: