A shorter version of this interview was originally published in BE. CURIOUS — CULTURE MAG edition #01. Image of Remi Kolawole photographed by Nynno Bel-Air for BE. CURIOUS. Creative direction by Grace Dlabik.
How would you describe your connection with your culture?
I guess I’d have to say loose. My connection to language, the land, the people—it’s loose. I’m much more connected to family, like the Nigerian cats I grew up with through my pops. But as far as my connection to the birthplace of my dad, it’s very separated. I’ve only been there one time. I can’t speak Yoruba. I definitely feel it; there’s stuff you can’t explain, certain music that you may like, things you’re drawn to, ways you may act. All of a sudden, that’s something Nigerian that’s just buried. But that’s as close as I get.
It’s said that music influences culture and culture influences music. Do you think that your work as an artist plays into that dynamic?
It’s really hard to say. If it does play into that, I think it’s subconscious and intergenerational for sure. I definitely gravitate towards trying to find as much Yoruba music as possible, listening to that, hearing what people like Fela Kuti may have heard when they were coming up. But my family influences my music more than culture really does. Hopefully that’s something that will change as I grow. I hope to reconnect with it more for sure. But at this point in time I think it’s my immediate community, my family and my environment that inspires what comes out.
Image: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Stephanie Keith. Image Source.
While Trump’s travel ban has been temporarily blocked—a move that President Trump is definitely Not Happy about—the sense of urgency hasn’t faded. Protestors in the US are doing the hard work of fighting the travel ban. We need to do the same here in Australia, too.
Image: from Petra Collins’ series Selfie. Image Source.
Back when social media was in its infancy, it was predicted that the internet would be a great equaliser for social anxiety, introversion and shyness. People could speak to each other behind the security of a computer screen. The socially anxious could join mainstream society in flourishing conversation through the veil of anonymity.
But like most broad-brush statements describing the internet as either irreproachably virtuous or the second coming of Satan, this prediction wasn’t right.
Image: photograph taken by Jessica Mincher for Catalogue.
2016 was a bad year. And while it may be over now, the world’s feeling like a weirder place for it.
Early on Saturday morning Australian time, Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. Yep, it’s really happening. During his inauguration speech, Trump stated that his presidency had “special meaning” to Americans. “Today,” he said, “we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, but we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.”
The people, however, have something else to say. Trump’s inauguration struggled to draw even a third of the audience Barack Obama’s historic inauguration in 2008 drew. Hundreds of thousands of women protested the events at the Women’s March on Washington. The protests against Trump’s inauguration quickly spread around the world with 51 countries demonstrating in solidarity, including marches in Sydney and Melbourne.
When the Women’s March Melbourne started at 1pm on Saturday, the State Library lawn was covered in people. According to police reports and the ABC, over 5000 protestors showed up. Pink pussyhats were everywhere, alongside signs with bold slogans like ‘Love Trumps Hate’, ‘Fight Like a Girl’ and ‘#BlackLivesMatter’.
From Instagram removing images containing visible menstrual blood to movies portraying periods as frightening and traumatic, menstruation is still a controversial topic. And given that periods have been happening for, well, forever, it’s alarming that there are still so many misconceptions around what the menstrual cycle actually is and the impact it has on people who experience it.
Let’s face it, society can be pretty cruel to teenage girls. They’re characterised as silly, narcissistic and immature. If lots of teenage girls like something, chances are the rest of the world hates it. Bands are known to bemoan their female fans, and teenage girls are the butts of so many mocking jokes.
But teenage girls deserve so much more credit than we give them. They’re talented, creative and full of smart, intelligent ideas. If we stopped characterising them as silly fans and empowered them to write their own music, what would they write about? Well, based on Girls Rock! camp this week, songs about bullying, political empowerment and finding a home in space might just top the list.
For the past week, Wick Studios in Brunswick has been home to some of the newest talent on the Melbourne music scene — 10 all-new bands made up of 12 to 17-year-old girls and gender diverse kids. It’s all part of a new-to-Melbourne initiative called Girls Rock!.
Full disclosure – I had high expectations when I heard that Nakkiah Lui’s new play was opening at the Malthouse. ‘Blaque Showgirls’ did not disappoint.
The play follows ‘light skinned ‘blaque’ girl’, Ginny Jones (played by Bessie Holland), who dreams of making it big as an Aboriginal showgirl in Brisvegas. There’s only one problem: Everyone thinks she’s white. With her stereotypical Asian best friend (Emi Canavan) by her side, Ginny is ready to see her name in lights – and she’s not going to let political correctness stop her.
Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls, is a coming of age story set in extraordinary circumstances. Based on the true events of the Charles Manson family, The Girls follows Evie Boyd, a fourteen-year-old girl on the cusp of adolescence, as she is drawn into the inner circle of a soon-to-be-infamous cult.
The research that has gone into The Girls is incredible — few details stray from the actual Manson case, aside from a relocation to California — but it’s not historical fiction. Instead, Cline uses the time and setting to craft an enduring tale of girlhood. While the majority of the book is set in 1969, and possesses the dreamy echoes of a bygone era, Cline paints the details of the time lightly. She doesn’t get carried away with specifics, preferring to use the mood and tone to create a world that is distant, yet timeless.
The book is set in the present tense, narrated by a middle-aged Evie as she reflects on her time inside the cult. Cline is an exceptional stylist and uses this vantage point well. On numerous occasions her carefully crafted sentences unveil a depth of clarity and insight. It’s stunning to read, and more than once left me feeling as though Cline had described my own feelings with words I’ve been unable to find.
The novel begins when Evie is young, innocent and only just beginning to press against the boundaries of childhood and independence. She witnesses a group of girls with long, unkempt hair and is captivated by their freedom and careless sensuality. One girl captures Evie’s interest more than the others: Black-haired Suzanne with her unaffected attitude and dirty smock dress.
Despite the use of cutting-edge technology, Lynette Wallworth’s virtual reality film Collisions has been a long time coming. The film tells the story of Martu man Nyarri Nyarri Morgan, whose first encounter with Western culture came when he witnessed the explosive effect of an atomic bomb test in the South Australian desert.
In a sold-out event by The Wheeler Centre and ACMI, Nyarri Nyarri Morgan and Nyarri’s grandson, filmmaker and Martu leader Curtis Taylor, joined Wallworth to discuss art as resistance, our collective need to listen to Indigenous stories, and the numerous collisions that went into making the virtual reality film.