Friday, June 11, 2010

On the dark side

In yesterday's Otago Daily Times, James Dignan wrote:

There is a darkness within the Kiwi creative psyche which manifests in Gothic, magic realism and surrealist art. In cinematography, it has been well summarised as the "cinema of unease".

In the pictorial arts, it pervades the work of artists from Siddall and Pankhurst to Smillie and de Soto.

Since he's writing about an art exhibition (Seraphine Pick's) he doesn't follow this point through in the other arts. Nevertheless it's strongly seen in NZ writing, to the point where much NZ writing seems dour and gloomy and miserable. However, while it's true that there's a great deal of NZ writing that's gloomy, it's equally true that there is a good deal that's not. Why don't we hear more about that? Why does NZ literary criticism seem to focus on the dark side?

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