Welcome to the Neighbourhood of Truth

Wellington Independent Arts Trust are proud to be able to support an outstanding independent artist creating ambitious engaged new work: Cushla Donaldson. Donaldson’s latest work Neighbourhood of Truth and accompanying performance Me and You Copy Paste are on for your experience at City Gallery Wellington’s Tuatara Open Late Thursday 4 August. The performance at 6.30pm and the film at 8.30pm.

Quentin Lind and I met in 2016 when I saw his work at the graduate show at Elam. His work’s relationship to working class ritual and its sophisticated critical position impressed me. I contacted him, and we have been collaborating on various projects since. The film Neighbourhood of Truth was the first large project we were able to produce together. As we grew up in the Manawatū region of Te Ika-a-Maui, we had knowledge and experiences in common outside mainstream Tāmaki narratives. We drew upon these to talk about the machinations of ideology for small town, settler-colonial, working class communities.

The investigations in the film Neighbourhood of Truth led to the development of the performance Me and You Copy Paste, which sits alongside the film at Artspace Aotearoa and, more recently, for the Wellington City Gallery’s open late event. I developed the performance in collaboration with actors Matthew Sunderland, Meg Sydenham and NYX electronic Drone Choir. The performance draws on the naturalistic horror tradition, ‘hot and cold’ theatre and South American political theatre. In developing the performance, the actors engaged with personal, political narratives and disinformation.

This series of current works began with an invitation by outgoing Artspace Aotearoa director Remco de Blaaij to produce a work investigating the terrains of ideology. In 2021, I was completing a post-graduate diploma in sociology and researching how ideology is embedded in technologies of colonisation and urbicide. Quentin Lind shares this area of interest, specifically how visual and cultural languages work particularly to their geographic identity. When looking at the political manipulations of ideology, the role of social media is, of course, an essential part of these conversations.

We have been very fortunate to have the support of The Wellington Independent Arts Trust for the film and performance and their ongoing mentorship in developing new work. Individually, the members have all produced work that has inspired us as makers, and their experience and knowledge are invaluable. WIAT’s support helped me recently gain a professional development grant for mentorship and sustainable collaborative practice from Creative New Zealand. WIAT have provided ongoing support and guidance for other applications and project development. As an independent artist, it has been invaluable to have them as a ground on which to stand while developing the work within institutional structures.

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