Rainbow taonga at Te Papa

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride nz.com [00:00:05] cura My name is Stephanie GIFs. And I'm here with Lynette Townsend. And we're two history curators at Harper. And a big part of our work is collecting the history of New Zealand and people's stories told through their objects. And we're always looking for really compelling, historically significant material that can tell those stories. [00:00:24] One of our focuses as on a diversity of New Zealand history. So we're always looking for objects that can tell history from different perspectives from different groups and the community. And just so that we can get a really diverse range of stories and experiences. [00:00:46] So we were we standing now, [00:00:47] right now we're in the Big History store. And we call it the grocery store, because it's got large examples of furniture from the 19th century, 20th centuries. And we also have lots of technology here, printing and tight rashes and whatnot. And lots of big flash objects like wallpaper and posters. So very diverse. It's a huge store, and a lot of its created up for earthquake mitigation. [00:01:11] And this seems to be quite a rumble of conditioning. Is that right? [00:01:15] Yeah, it's all really in condition controlled. So the temperatures always 21 degrees plus or minus one or two degrees, and the humidity is always the same as well. So that that's the optimum conditions to keep the objects in perfect condition. [00:01:30] And so why is that? Why at that temperature, [00:01:33] because it's dry and mild. So it's not two drives. So you don't want the woods to crack and your furniture. But if you have it moist, then you have other problems come in, like mold, mold spores, so it's got to keep it dry area. And mild is the best. In terms of preservation for delicate materials. It's all [00:01:54] about keeping things stable and constancy don't want any fluctuations. [00:02:00] September of this year is queer History Month. And we're looking at a variety of clicking institutions and the kind of rainbow materials they have in the collections. Can you tell me what's on the top hapa collection in terms of rainbow material? [00:02:14] Well, it's really diverse, we have a lot of TechStars elements. So dress and fashion. Some of its very flamboyant from our drag queen and transgender community. We also have a lot of sort of activist objects, so t shirts that are emblazoned with identity politics. We had placards, posters from homosexual Law Reform Movement. And we also keep collecting material that's around activism, especially things like clearing an Irish recurring schools. And we also collect [00:02:48] examples of popular culture like the top twins, for example, [00:02:51] one of the seats of objects that we've collected or been doing some work on recently is the collage panels that were on the Evergreen coffee lounge. And they were made by Chrissy Wait, Oh, cool. And so they these 3435 panels that make up their collection. [00:03:10] So how did these objects come into the collection? [00:03:13] Well, quite often, they are mainly donated, in quite a lot of the objects that we've collected in recent years have come about when we've done public events, Steve and I have done a few talks recently, and after that people have come forward with various objects that they've got. Amazon's softball collection came in through there. It was after we're done the age, Asia Pacific out games, he was, of course, you know, huge. A lot of events here. And Steve and I did a public talk. And we we actually asked people, what would we do they say, the gifts and the collection, what do we need, and a couple of people came forward and said Amazon's would be really great to collect. And from that we did a bit of research and managed to locate some of the old uniforms. [00:04:00] I mentioned, the research element must be quite large. I'm thinking like in terms of these panels from the Evergreen cafe, we've got like, hundreds of photos, but not necessarily identified. Are they in terms of people in them? [00:04:13] Well, they it's been a big part of the research is to identify people, the places and the stories around them. And I am we've made a start on us. And we've got some really great family stories and stories from people that knew Chrissy friends and acquaintances of hulu's. But I imagine that this will be a project that will go on for years and years, because the more you research, the more you realize that the deep than that the more avenues there are to kind of carry on researching. [00:04:45] And then how do you document that new information. [00:04:47] So it all gets documented on our database. So some, some of the information is just keep behind the scenes. And that will be the sort of future researchers. But we've been trying to write it up as narrative story, and then attach the kept the related collages and other objects that help to sort of enrich the story. [00:05:08] What are some of the other things that you've collected. [00:05:09] So we've collected around other aspects of [00:05:17] govt life that might not be so obvious. So in support sport, as we mentioned before, but also get as you can very kindly helped us with this clicking around the outlines, the Asia Pacific Games, such as a really exciting moment here in New Zealand 2011. And we managed to collect a huge body of material. So that that really grew our collections and quite a different direction. So we're always looking at new ways to collect and collect different experiences of being GLVTI. In New Zealand. [00:05:48] One of the other big collections that we've got is from Carmen. And we, we've collected one, several times around common. So some items, we things that Cameron herself donated, we've purchased items as well. And then after she passed away, we collected a whole range of objects as well. [00:06:10] So that's actually a really rich and diverse and varied collection now. [00:06:17] So sorry, the Pacific and actions also have collected material from the govt community, for example, the Pacific cultures collection has some wonderful examples of DNA, clothing and design. So it is the Christians happening right across the organization. [00:06:35] An interesting thing with Carmen is that in the recent kind of media coverage of her traffic lights and keep them all she's been referred to in the press as a drag queen. And I know in some institution that she's referred to as drag queen, others transgender. How do you categorize people's sexuality and gender identity? [00:06:56] It's really tricky, because we're using a DC museum sort of source from America. So we're, technically speaking, our database uses these international classification systems. And they don't have all these nuances around identity and sexuality and orientation. They have a few, they have broad ones like homosexuality, but they don't have transgender, for example, is a category. So we have to embed those categories and different parts of the database and own it and our information, the way we deliver it online, we need to write write that up and make it really visible online. But it's not actually always in the classification system and behind the scenes. [00:07:39] The other thing is that it's really important for us to keep connecting with the communities that we those objects belong to, and the people who those objects belong to. And I think, because I think the naming or the names that people use changes, and has changed so much over time, and we try to keep in touch with that. And I think and we really open to kind of re revising how we've kind of written things up and named things. So it's, it's, you know, I think even if something's been written up in a certain way, now, then we're really open to kind of changing there and taking on advice. [00:08:16] So how does one changes, say, like the Getty source? How does one So actually we want transgender source? [00:08:25] Well, we wouldn't need to work that digital team here and ask them to champion for us. And we have asked, we just need to chase it up. So we just need to make it an institutional priority. So I think if we change costs money, basically, it's probably a financial decision as well. And also the Gucci with their international purview will be having their own discussions around issues like this, I suspect. So we just need to get become become part of those conversations, or drive the conversation. [00:08:53] And operator over here is assigned 27 times what does that refer to? [00:08:58] So this is from the homosexual Lord for campaign in 1985, which got very, very vicious and haters. And the the people that were against homosexual reform, ran a huge petition what they said it was huge. They said they had so many signatures and reality they didn't they had done repeat signatures, say signatures, children, people that didn't have enough mental capacity to sign. So the petition was a bit of a lie. And when it was delivered to Parliament, the day it was delivered was a huge protest rally and reaction to it. And people for the reform held up some placards. And one of them said, I signed 27 times. So it says that it's a very ironic placard that it was a very successful blackout and was picked up by the news media at the time. And it's become quite resonances just come into the collection this year. So we're really excited that it survived all this time. [00:09:52] And I think she was showing me earlier how it's not only what's on the front of the blackout, but it's also what's kind of underneath it and around it. [00:10:00] What a great thing is that a lot of activists of course, are active on lots of friends. So around 1985 of course, there was the Springbok tour issue came up again where the All Blacks wanted to go to South Africa and of course imaginary one would hit the terrible clashes here in New Zealand soil. So imagine a five there were more protests around rugby and apartheid in so the the guy who gang who made the placard for the homosexual law reform, protest, recycled, anti Springbok to a posters and painted on the backs of them. So it's a lovely combination, hybrid objects around about activism and the 1980s and New Zealand. [00:10:39] One of the things I think often I look at the sign is that it was constructed for that purpose and 8586. And maybe was never intended to be here. 30 years later, how do you preserve conserve this [00:10:52] year will often a lot of kind of protest materials, very ephemeral. And people never imagined that it's going to last. And so sometimes it's a bit of luck that things survive, particularly, you know, posters and things like this play card, but we do a lot of proactive collecting as well. So we try and collect around things that are happening at the time so that we can, Steve particularly does a lot of collecting of posters and looking out for proteins material. And now so that we can kind of keep those for the future. [00:11:26] Once it suddenly here, how do you how do you look after it [00:11:30] all? Well, it's about it's partly to do with the environment, keeping it an optimum condition. So is it free box saying into show, making sure the environments really stable, and there's no moisture. So, you know, you can imagine something like the plague head would be in somebody's garage, and it would get wheat and moldy and just become destroyed over time. So here, it can just stay in perfect condition and can last, you know, hundreds of years, hopefully. [00:11:57] I mean, the thing to keep in mind, these objects we have here are just the remnant of the remnant of the remnant. So over the years, objects get recycled, they get thrown out, they get damaged. And we just getting just a few surviving remnants often from people's homes and collections. And we find that we're often run by the families of activists who have passed away and the families will ring us in a panic and say, Look, we've got rooms full of stuff from our parents, you know, they were leading activists, what do we do with all this stuff. And you've got a week to pick up the house. So you know, the quite terrifying those phone calls, because you you'll go, you'll go to that house, and you'll see the most amazing, rich record of protest history. And you know, you can only take a fraction others. So that's a real privilege when families renew and they know they've got important stuff and the district find a good home for it and honor the family members who were out there on the front lines. [00:12:52] So when you can only take a fraction of the material offered? What are the things that what goes through your mind in terms of how do you how do you choose? [00:12:59] Well, it's really complex, it's like a matrix of significance that you bring together and you do it with your colleagues, you do it as a team, because not one person can ever understand everything. So you bring all your knowledge together, and all you experience and you look at the significance of the moment what the object represents. It's, it's, it's, it's quite qualities, its aesthetic qualities or not, you know, ugly objects have great history, too. So it's not always about How good does it look, it's about what is saying and where it was and who held it and who made it and in does it change things that change anybody's life? You know, I mean, we've got a great banner, from the 1981 and 1985, Springbok to protest. And it's got eagerness because somebody through Exodus, and you know, we can preserve that we can actually preserve the stone. Yeah, it's quite visceral. [00:13:50] Some of the things that are the hardest for us to deal with the things like glue guns and stuff they've been it has been glue gun together, and sellotape and, you know, staples, they've got rust on them and things like that. But we do have experts here at popper that can deal with it. And our consumers can kind of make recommendations and kind of treat things so that we can kind of Yeah, so there's still last the test of time. [00:14:17] So activism is kind of one stream in terms of what you're collecting. What are the other kind of areas in terms of rainbow communities that you're interested in? [00:14:27] Well, we've got the amazing usernames, Memorial quote, Robin, also that can be seen as an activist project as well. We have fashion, we've got [00:14:37] quite a lot of items that relate to performance. So Franklin's was one person who and one group of collection items that we got on quite early on. So yeah, in that kind of transgender kind of performance, we're this this sort of thing that comes in quite commonly because it's especially very rich and people think to save us and that kind of that's the sort of object that kind of lasts in and but you know, also we've collected around poor Jean done and the the fury stories, shows that we're on a bit theater and we managed to get a couple of costumes as well after he passed away. [00:15:22] What else have we got? We've got [00:15:23] some devotion, dad's material, we really came to document those, those wonderful, very public parties in the 80s and 90s, are starting that after the homosexual reform in 86. The real flowering of visibility and excitement in the 90s with devotion and hero and managing an Auckland, massive big public events. And so we've got some devotion material and a little bit of hair and material, but we're keen for more. [00:15:50] We've got some fun little dolls of the top ones, so they have to nessa dolls. So one of them's camp leader in camp mother. And they were donated to us by I think probably a Fein. Yeah. [00:16:06] This is a bit of a tangential thing. But we have a last few years, we've brought on a really large concept of collection, which has a lot of six six condoms, and Mr. Jang, which is just brilliant. And we managed to put some of that on display. And these are products that were made or put together by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. And they are targeted at gay bisexual men. And they have some really powerful imagery and messaging and that material. [00:16:30] Another group of objects relate to Michael Matala in this interesting seat because they weren't necessarily collected because of the gay story. But it was more like a fish in history kind of perspective. But I think that's another sort of line of inquiry, this sort of quite interesting reading across the conditions and kind of exploring and exposing or discovering the guy stories it might be hidden with her now convictions. [00:17:00] Let's talk about hidden collections. And I mean, not everyone is veiled. I'm thinking of like creators or what artists? I mean, do you have any kind of hidden histories that you're we're all [00:17:12] we're aware of quite a few. We haven't surface them yet clean done a big research project in this regard. But we really came, [00:17:19] I think the thing about objects as they can be read and reread in so many different ways. And and we're always looking for new ways that you can kind of tell a story around an object and it's kind of this fundamental to what we do. So we collect objects, the can be an initial kind of history that we really know about it, but quite often research will uncover all the other kind of stories around it as well. [00:17:49] And also, I guess the reverse can happen to you can take objects that people might think govt objects only, but actually put them into their for historical context, like the New Zealand Knights Memorial quote, for example, that you know, AIDS and HIV affect everybody [00:18:04] can we have look at the quote. [00:18:06] So we're going to these amazing big roller cabinets, we call them compact storage, and it means we can get lots of objects into a smaller space, we'll just done. I'll just roll. It's quite a big, big Michelle cabinets, and it's quite deep, probably about 20 meters deep, couple meters wise. And there's a big manual handle that I've got a tune to get into these big, huge bays, we call them, you know, that he's known as moral code is so large. Because they are 1616 blocks, each block is four by four nieces is actually really, really large. And we've managed to fold them down into a panel size. So each block is made up of eight panels in a panel is the size of an American grave. So that hopefully will sort of paint you a picture. And we've managed to fold the quotes into the panel size. So it's an eighth generation eighth of the original size, and it's still really large, and they look like a shelves and shelves and shelves of slum mattresses is what you said looks like that each quote has been lovingly conserved, folded up carefully and put into these beautiful Calico wrappers with bow ties. So they're usually looked after it's like, it's like the little uncovered, sort of that you can think of. And they're all numbered, and they've all been beautifully photographed and roll online. And we always doing a little bit of research into them to improve our records. This is such a critical moment. And it was global history and human health history, and political history, music of govt rights at that time when I heard the world. They're an incredible record. And they were also amazing record personal histories and family histories. They're incredibly emotional, they still make people wait, they still make people remember. And they also still remind us to be vigilant that we still have HIV and AIDS in the world. So they're very powerful, powerful educational tools, and historical information that's embedded in them, they really rich, sometimes they can be beautiful works of craft, they can be really rough as guts and as Lynette mentions is a lot of glue gun a lot of meticulous are a lot of fabric kinds and scary stuff going on. But they're real record of the times. [00:20:36] But it's like, you know, the thing about preserving objects as these are really special kind of history that you can tell around objects is nothing else where you can have that to reach tangible link back to a moment in time in the people that made that thing. So that's why for us objects are really rich and powerful. And I think they do evoke emotion we are other things don't necessarily bring up the same kind of emotional response to history. [00:21:04] In also the moral code as a living memorial, we still use it, you know, it's still use, that's the right word, it still comes out. For candlelight ceremonies, it still resonates with people. So it has a light, it still actually has a life even though it's in a museum. So as a life, [00:21:21] How can two people exist not only see the quote, but also the other objects you've talked about? [00:21:27] Well, the initial thing is everything we have in the collection is on our collections online. So we try and when objects come in, we try and photograph them straight away and write up the history around them. So people can always access them straight away online. But also, we're more than happy to show our collections to the to anybody in general public, it's just a matter of kind of making an appointment and coming in and, and then we really happy to show them and share our collections with people in that way. And then of course, we're always looking for great opportunities to have objects out and exhibition songs on the floor. So people can enjoy them in that way to you [00:22:04] know, if there's a special community event. And if it's logistically possible, then we try and be present in an event. So for example, with a candlelight Memorial at to pepper. Over the last couple of years, we've been able to bring out the quilts. So there's lots of different ways that we can provide access. [00:22:21] And so you're looking for people to come forward and say, Have you thought about this idea in terms of like an expression or [00:22:26] so we, as you can imagine, gets a lot of love really great suggestions. And they are they're always canvassed and the organization, we discuss them all. And it just depends on the upcoming programming, how we can fit things and that there's a lot of there's a lot of huge interest groups, both externally and internally, we've got to sort of negotiate and navigate them all, to see what it actually actually ends up in our exhibitions. [00:22:53] And how can communities kind of helped with your research in terms of feeding into, you know, talking about the second evergreen photos? [00:23:01] We've been asking people to come forward and talk about the Evergreen photos. And so I've been running workshops, and we've we've done a few workshops with you sort of interviewed people and and then all that information has been kind of stored digitally. But yes, so we really happy when people come forward with then they've got their own stories to tell around objects. So with the Evergreen, as well, I've got about another five interviews sort of lined up around that. And yeah, I think it'll be ongoing for years and years. And hopefully, because it's just so rich, I think these kind of those touchstone moments and kind of LGBT history, the big stories, but then there's just tons and tons of those lovely personal stories that are associated with them as well. And yes, I've been interviewing people and transcribing those interviews, and then writing them up into narratives and putting it up online. [00:23:59] And we really love working with communities. And we would love to co Q. Kochi right with people and so we really rely on people's expertise out in the community, we don't know everything we we only know a fraction. So it's really vital for us that we have good relationships with people in the community. And that we can be like a conduit to initial connection. [00:24:19] So how do we get in contact with you. [00:24:21] So you can either go straight felony and I or any history trader that you could either just ring the general number or go through the inquiries or ramp inquiries and ask for email addresses that if you put put attention history curators and your byline that will get to us. [00:24:40] And I've got a special Email Setup for the Evergreen projects called evergreen it to papa doc golf dot indeed [00:24:49] sounds like an amazing job [00:24:52] with some incredibly privileged you know, I feel really, really lucky to be able to kind of work with these objects and then connect with him. Unity's that's all all about these objects are really the for the people of New Zealand. And that's what we're that's what we're really interested in preserving them for, you know, for the history of New Zealand people and then allowing XZ sort you know, encouraging access and continually building up those stories around objects. We really want that to happen. [00:25:23] Do you have favorites, Rainbow objects? [00:25:28] That's a good question. People always respond well to the top 10 dolls. It's funny they people absolutely love ninja turtles that represent real people. And people love to talk to him. And I think that they've been really nice objects to have fun with that. I mean personally, I love the activist objects because I just think the chances of survival is so slim and I know it's probably a bit of a sad reflection on society but I do love the queer the night poster which came out a couple of years ago it was posted up on the streets and I think happened the same year is the marriage equality law was passed so great jubilation and and and happiness over finally achieving marriage equality. But in the same year there was an activist group that felt it needed to make a purchase match around the danger and like a safety at night for people to the rainbow community and I think I thought that was really sad and telling the same year you could have those extremes that there are still concerns and worries around safety and acceptance. [00:26:31] I really love the Evergreen coffee lunch panels because I've been working so closely with them and I've started to realize the more I more research we do on them the retro they are but I also really liked some of the heat races you know Commons heat races that are on display at the moment but also Franklin's he treats it he you know lovingly and made out of bits and bobs that he found and crafted together and it was something that he wanted stage and performed on Sorry about that.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.