Ari’s casual assertion that he’s a wog, not white, scorns millennia of Western empires claiming Greek epistemology as an intellectual forebear while systemically deorientalising it. This feels particularly salient for how homoeroticism in Greek antiquity is absorbed into the lineage of anglophone gay culture today. That troubled relationship to history and lineage is also a recurring trope in migrant narratives, as the point of origin recedes into a romantic homeland fading into the horizon, or becomes a risk and a burden, a chorus of voices clamouring for tribute. Or a third thing: a ship with new parts but the same name.
It’s really interesting to see all the different iterations of this story (I also reviewed the audio play in 2020) and be pushed to tease apart my responses and figure out what’s in the work vs what’s changed in the world or the presentation context or my point of view. A good exercise as a critic!
The piece that’s nominated is my review of Chinese theatremaker Wang Chong’s solo show at the Malthouse, Made in China 2.0. So many great critics have won this prize in past years, including Anwen Crawford, Jeff Sparrow, Sarah Krasnostein, and my editor for this piece and so many others, Alison Croggon. It feels like an unthinkable privilege just to write criticism at all, let alone get recognised for it, so I’m really startled, chuffed, blushing, beaming.
For The Saturday Paper, I reviewed She and Her Pretty Friend, an appealing and accessible history of queer women’s lives in Australia from roughly 1830 to 1980. There’s a lot I liked about it and a few things that bugged me too. As always, I can send a read link if you can’t access it through the paywall, just leave a comment.
Scrimshaw code-switches easily between the cautious register of the historian and the more colourful lexicon of chronically online queers, reading real events in relation to memes and fandom tropes such as “oh my god, they were roommates” and “be gay, do crime”. The effect is chatty and conspiratorial, like catching up with a friend who can’t wait to tell you about what she just read, and it’s endearing to witness her transparent disappointment when women treat each other badly or don’t get the life we feel they deserve.
As a public service, I gobbled up more than 3 kilograms of lasagne from Coles, Woolies* and Aldi, to review it for you, dear reader. Cheers to the Guardian for indulging my pivot from arts criticism to ready meal reviews.
There’s nothing like an oozy hunk of meat, cheese and carbs to make you feel as if you’ve just tucked yourself into a pasta doona. Eating lasagne under a blanket manifests a beautiful sense of symmetry: I’m at one with the universe in all its multi-layered glory.
FYI, I learned in the process of researching this story that lasagne is the plural, which is typically what’s used for pasta dishes (spaghetti, penne are also plural, and of course noodles), while lasagna is singular. Australian and UK English favours lasagne, US lasagna.
‘When I do refer to recipes, I prefer to use the web, and my usual process is to skim half a dozen recipes from different websites so I can triangulate the common denominators, and then proceed with the laziest version possible.’
‘Trans people are under immense pressure to present a coherent and palatable origin story that helps cis people make sense of us – even when we are not seeking medical treatment, we are treated by laypeople as if presenting to them for diagnosis. We are supposed to be intelligent, untroubled, sympathetic and reassuring.’
Plenty of ink and pixels have been spilled over the fraught relationship between Australia and China lately, so Nicholas Jose and Benjamin Madden’s anthology, Antipodean China: Reflections on Literary Exchange, would appear to be a timely intervention in a conversation that is rife with misreadings and illiteracy. Read my review in InDaily, part of Writers SA’s review series.