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Culture February 16, 2019

The reinvention of Christine and the Queens

Like her idol Madonna, French pop musician Héloïse Letissier is interested in transformation and reinvention. Her latest album finds her performing in a new persona as Chris, a celebration of her “macho-femininity”. She is, however, aware of the “danger of mainstreaming ‘queerness’… [that] it could invalidate the thing that ‘queer’ is important for. Queer is questioning a norm, questioning the system, subverting it, so if it’s digested and branded and [covered in] glossy plastic to appeal, then the essence of queer is lost.”

Culture February 9, 2019

Metal singer Karina Utomo’s roar history

Whether singing about the bloody past of the country of her birth in metal band High Tension, or in the wordless growls and screams of Speechless, a new opera about the Forgotten Children, Karina Utomo finds catharsis in unleashing her powerful voice. Etched into her memory is the burning down of a music store, which sold cassettes because CDs remained a luxury item. The shop, she says, was targeted because it was owned by Chinese Indonesians, the long-time targets of racist scapegoating. “Buying music with my father was a treat. That was somewhere we had gone every week and it symbolised access to music, to engage in a culture with which I connected.”

Culture February 2, 2019

Where’s home for theatre and opera director Barrie Kosky?

Barrie Kosky’s peripatetic career has led him to work throughout Australia and Europe, before finally establishing a true connection with Berlin. Still, for the Melbourne-born theatre and opera director, nothing says “home” like a rehearsal room. “It just happened that theatre discovered me, and performance and music discovered me, because the very same time that I started to think, ‘Who am I? How does this relate to me?’ and felt that disconnectedness, was the very same time I was experiencing music: Mahler symphonies or puppet shows or musicals or opera. And it was very linked.”

Culture January 26, 2019

Wiradjuri dancer Joel Bray’s platypus identity

As a gay Aboriginal Australian who grew up in a largely white world, Joel Bray found purpose and identity through dance. His latest work – the intimate solo performance Biladurang – blends choreography and theatre in a raw exploration of his own very personal journey. “I’ve had people hug me, I’ve had people crying, I’ve had people share their stories of discovering their Aboriginality late in life.”

Culture December 22, 2018

Robin DiAngelo, an agent of change

Robin DiAngelo knows a lot about white privilege – it’s in her DNA. The American academic, author and anti-racism advocate talks about how structures of whiteness and so-called white progressives are continuing to damage the lives of people of colour. ‘I grew up in poverty … I was a feminist for most of my life before I realised I could also be an oppressor. But I draw from my experience of oppression … I think that helps. The key is not to exempt myself from being an oppressor, just because I experience oppression. Ask anyone if they’d rather be poor and white or poor and brown – I knew I was poor, but I also knew I was white.’

review

Culture February 16, 2019

Methyl Ethel’s Triage

On the latest Methyl Ethel album, Triage, Jake Webb’s extraordinary songwriting is on full display in pop music of unusual complexity.

Culture February 16, 2019

STC’s Mary Stuart

Kate Mulvany’s adaptation of Mary Stuart shares with the recent film starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie a desire to portray rival monarchs Mary and Elizabeth I as sisters pitted against each other by the patriarchy.

Culture February 9, 2019

Escape at Dannemora

Ben Stiller’s small-screen directorial debut, Escape at Dannemora, a dramatisation of a real-life prison break, invites viewers’ sympathy for two violent criminals and then churns it into a grim vision of Trump’s America.

portrait

Culture November 3, 2018

António Serzedelo, revolutionary

A visit to the Lisbon apartment of polymath activist António Serzedelo.

Culture October 13, 2018

Author Deb Kandelaars

The writer of Memoirs of a Suburban Girl on her long road out of a violent relationship. “There I am, right in the middle of my teenage years and suddenly in a serious relationship. A relationship that pushes away my other life. Being hit was beyond my world experience. I didn’t want it to happen again. I started treading a little bit more carefully, and that set up a power dynamic.”

Culture October 6, 2018

Theatre designer Tracy Grant Lord

A chat with theatre designer Tracy Grant Lord, side stage at a rehearsal for Twelfth Night.

books

Culture February 16, 2019

The Photographer at Sixteen

On July 31, 1975 – in the midst of an uncharacteristically hot English summer – Magda Szirtes, a Jewish Hungarian survivor of World War II, took an overdose in her North London home. The ambulance dispatched to revive her was delayed by a …

Culture February 16, 2019

Imperfect

Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram filters, and cosmetic injectables and other “treatments”, modern standards of beauty are perhaps more standardised than ever. Uneven teeth, lined foreheads, body hair, jowls – you need to look hard to …

Culture February 16, 2019

You Know You Want This

Kristen Roupenian’s name may not be familiar, but there’s a good chance you’ve read, or at least heard of, her short story “Cat Person”. After its publication in The New Yorker in 2017, that story went viral on social …