Tender is the Night & Love First Light

Hungry Ghost with Dragonfly Jar by Kushana Bush

    Sometime over the Autumnal Equinox weekend, I noticed I had fallen out of love — with a man, New Zealand, and well, just about everything. Everywhere I looked, all I saw appeared rorted, munted, or just plain shonky, to use the vernacular. Almost two months later, strolling through the new Tender is the Night exhibition at City Gallery, an exhibition that asks us all how it feels to fall in and fall out of love, I noticed a stirring, an awareness that this state too had passed, and there are so many things I’m excited about and looking forward to sharing. Here are just a few:

  1. Tender is the Night is a wonderful counterpart to City Gallery’s recent Roundabout° exhibition, which explored big love, aroha, and compassion in a selection of contemporary art from around the world. This one draws in close and even dares to get a little wet while exploring the complex and intense nature of personal desire, love, longing and loss across both time and place.

    I’m always drawn to Ukiyo-e, literally “the floating world,” the elaborately colourful woodblock prints from the Edo and Meijii periods of Japan, and this exhibition includes some wonderful examples. Right next to — and inspired by — the shunga, a sexually explicit subcategory of Ukiyo-e, is one of my favorite works in the exhibition, “Hungry Ghost with Dragonfly Jar,” (pictured above) a gouache painting by contemporary New Zealand artist Kushana Bush.

    The other piece I fell in love with and just wanted to hang out with all afternoon is by another young artist from New Zealand, Francis Upritchard, “Wife” and “Husband” (below). At first glance, I was struck by the emotion on each face and the tensions between them. Only after a while did it become apparent how splendidly they were crafted from other animals in the form of recycled fur coats and gloves.

    Francis Upritchard Wife 2006, and Husband 2006. Rabbit fur, tanned goat skin, modelling materials.

    Tender is the Night runs 7 May – 17 July 2011 at
    City Gallery Wellington, 101 wakefield st, Wellington, New Zealand
    Related events:
    Curators’ Tour (The awesome Heather Galbraith) Friday 27 May, 12.30pm
    Open City Friday 8 July, 6–9.30pm Entry $10/$5 concession (including City Gallery Friends)

  2. First Light bach Energy Solar Decathlon Entry 2011 at Frank Kitt’s Park through May 22, 2011.First Light house

    This should be number 1 in excitement level, but since I wandered over after checking out Tender is the Night, I’m reporting in chronological order. New Zealand is graced with all the forces of nature in such abundance — sun, wind and water — and it’s crazy that our homes and buildings are not making the most of them. One of my projects and passions this year is designing a regenerative family house here in Wellington, and I have been disappointed to see best practices in the area have been so far, not so great. Thrilled to find a team from Victoria University has designed a beautiful, energy-efficient, fully solar-powered bach (NZ summer vacation house) called First Light House that’s been selected as the first Southern Hemisphere contender in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.

    First Light pushes the edge in renewability, and most excitingly, has done it by partnering with local providers and manufacturers. Which means the capability is here, and it’s up to all of us to demand it in our designs and purchases going forward. Alas, the audio in the video of my tour of the house’s impressive systems by Victoria University student Zach was hard to hear due to the NORML concert taking place across the park (which is kind of excellent in its own way). So check out the intro to First Light House yourself in their video below, updates on their blog, and in person at Frank Kitt’s Park in Wellington through May 24 and in Washington D.C., USA Sept 23—Oct 2, 2011.

  3. Our Choice, the follow up to An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, transformed from book to app by Push Pop Press, for an excellent interactive reading experience on the iPad. The interface that strives to emulate printed books disappears, and the interaction begins to feel native and intuitive. All media flow into one seamless whole; the project envelops text, image, interactive graphics, audio, animations and video as appropriate to communicate the message and further the narrative. It’s also important and worth your time for all the actionable solutions for renewable energy, conservation, business, and governance it offers. Mike Matas of Push Pop Press gives a compelling demo below. Kudos to all involved, and I hope their creation software becomes widely available, soon!

     

  4. Louie Schwartzberg’s TED Talk on the hidden beauty of pollination
    I spent a lot of time in the Sonoran Desert last summer, photographing cacti blossoms and even a few bats. But never once did I see their amazing pollination ritual, featured in Schwartzberg’s video below along with hummingbirds, monarch butterflies and more. Schwartzberg says “Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” I dare you to watch the video below and not fall in love with everything in it.

  5. Long Now talk with Tim Flannery on evolution.
    This episode of The Long Now’s Seminars about Long Term Thinking, one of my favorite podcasts, introduced me to Australian biologist, Tim Flannery, and now I can’t wait to read his books: The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, and Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet. Yes, I’ve ordered them all. 

    There’s so much richness in his talk, it’s worth at least a couple of listens. But my favorite parts come in the question and answer period, when Tim Flannery explains that love is an evolutionary outcome:

    “There are powerful forces at work that result from that cruel and amoral mechanism called ‘evolution by natural selection’ that creates this thing we call love between human beings. The bonds between species and the bonds between individuals. All of that — that’s an evolutionary outcome.”

    Stewart Brand: “That sounds a little warm and fuzzy.”

    Tim Flannery: “Well, why should it? Everything about us, every manifestation of life is a result of evolution by natural selection. Love is a part of that. It’s part of the bond that keeps civilizations together. We can have love of country, love of our environment, love of other people. This is part of the evolutionary outcome.”

    He then goes on to explain that we’ve gone through a period of being “future eaters,” expanding our powers and capacities without having awareness, wisdom or understanding how the global system works. We’re in a race between true intelligence and our technical capacity.Here’s to expanding our wisdom and intelligence to create happy outcome for living beings!

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