2016 SSAAANZ conference: Victoria University, Wellington NZ

Great conference - terrific to connect with other academics working in screen studies and also see the University where my father and other family and friends studied.


Check out my presentation on 'Constructing nature: Trans-Tasman resonances and uncanny monstrosities'


I was also hoping to meet other practitioners but maybe next time. 2018 SSAAANZ conference will be held at Monash University in Melbourne - so hopefully there will be a connection to ACMI.


It was amazing to connect with the other Maori academic at the conference - its so refreshing to not be the only non-white person at these events. Thank you Jani for giving me the confidence to try and connect with my ancestors and their/my culture/relationship with the land/water. Part of this trip was about confronting my Australian Maori identity which has been problematic because the ruling principle in Australia during my childhood was colonial assimilation. That is one of the tensions I explore in my research, the uncanny/abject co-existence of binaries such as colonialism and post-colonialism in contemporary Australian culture - as represented through cinematic perceptions of the landscape. 


After the conference we traveled to Te Urewera, a forest that has human rights and I photographed the primeval trees there and specifically the giant Rata Tree which is over 1,000 years old and has a very dramatic story. This is a truly spiritual place. Its great to see a sovereign nation respecting the land.


After Te Urewera we traveled to Te Puia the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua. This is where the traditional art of weaving and carving are taught. Amazing work on display here - again the experience of a culture of respect for all people was so refreshing. 


Auckland has some great art galleries and museums with some interesting Maori exhibitions and displays. Not too many happy brown faces there though - not at all like the other places we visited in the North Island. I guess all big cities are the same.


Beth, the curator for the crosseXions project really encouraged us to produce work that was personal and 'GASH' is a very personal artwork about self-harm. This trip and the artworks that will be produced from it will explore these notions further. Because I get it now - I understand why language and connecting to an identity that belongs to me is so important. That definitely contributed to why I loved living in the UK. 

Mother = Anglo-Australian, Father = Maori, Home = Australia, Merri = TBC ;)