2018 NatCon Liveblog

Former UMSU President Desiree Cai elected as NUS President

Former University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) President Desiree Cai has been elected President of the National Union of Students (NUS) on the second day of the annual National Conference (NatCon). 

reflecting, re-examining and relocating

From the 27th of May to the 3rd of June each year it is National Reconciliation Week. The entire week celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history, as well as invites all of Australia to learn more about our stories and knowledge. It is also important to note that while Reconciliation Week is an important symbolic gesture, reconciliation is an ongoing project of decolonisation of our social, educational, legal and cultural institutions.

The Aesthetics of Perpetual Toil

Through an extravagant pose plastered on a billboard, Thai-Australian artist Kawita Vatanajyankur asks viewers to consider the human labour expended within their consumption habits. Vatanajyankur’s Carrier II, installed on the exterior of the University of Melbourne’s School of Mathematics and Statistics building, shows her body suspended by ropes against a blue background bearing towering fish baskets. The work illuminates the fraught relationship between humans and their labour by symbolising the tribulations of the Thai fishing industry to a culturally-distanced audience, the University of Melbourne’s crowds. Overall, its dissonant display of beauty, objectification and endurance demands an awareness beyond surface-level aesthetics, soliciting discomfort to create value of the labour beyond indulgent consumptive behaviours.  

Campus

NatCon 2018: Day Two Wrap-Up
12 December 2018

Whew! We had three full sessions yesterday. Lots was discussed and, like day one, lots of yelling ensued. Discussion included NUS’s role in the 2019 federal election, freedom of speech on campuses, and lunch.

Former UMSU President Desiree Cai elected as NUS President
11 December 2018

Former University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) President Desiree Cai has been elected President of the National Union of Students (NUS) on the second day of the annual National Conference (NatCon). 

NatCon 2018: Day One Wrap-Up
11 December 2018

First day is under the belt! After a very long drive up to Ballarat, a quick lunch and a whole lot of waiting around, sessions came and went (prematurely or not) and day one was wrapped up by 10pm, hacks and reporters alike waiting for tomorrow with bated breath.

So what’s this “NatCon”?
10 December 2018

NatCon is the annual national conference of the National Union of Students (NUS). This week, the student politicians will descend like locusts on the Mt Helen campus of Federation University, 10km outside Ballarat.

2018 NatCon Liveblog
10 December 2018

Follow our live updates of #nusnatcon18 here!

Nonfiction

The Problem With Travel
5 November 2018

Later this year I’m travelling to South-East Asia for three months, and I feel gut-wrenchingly guilty about it. It’s not only because of the carbon emissions involved in flying, nor the chequered and problematic history of white people journeying through Asia over the centuries. Since long before Elizabeth Gilbert ate, prayed, and loved around the globe, people from one place have travelled to another place, returning with souvenirs, stories and “new” ideas. It’s tempting to view this dissemination as a holy form of multiculturalism that celebrates social, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic difference, but I think that this belies a much shadier truth: self-interest in all its forms is the bedrock of travel.

Explainer: The US Midterms
4 November 2018

This week in America, on the first Tuesday of November, a very different race will stop a very different nation. It is a race with much more at stake. It is a race to majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate. It is, among other things, a race to be Governor in 36 states, to legalise recreational marijuana in Michigan and to give ex-felons the right to vote in Florida. This Tuesday, America votes in the midterm elections.

Silent Bodies
24 October 2018

It is only recently that McAllister returned to perform, for the first time since becoming artistic director, in the Australian Ballet’s production of The Merry Widow in Melbourne. On a stage saturated by diamond-studded dresses and scarlet curtains, McAllister appears as Njegus, the bumbling secretary to the ambassador. Pantomimic and slapstick, the fantasy is in full swing—and McAllister knows how to play the game. The audience drinks deeply from his perfectly timed winks and silly walks, revelling in the comedy.

I Do Not Have a White Name
24 September 2018

So, no, I do not have a white name. I wish other non-white people didn’t either. Our names are beautiful. They speak of our roots, cultures, homes we so dearly love. I would rather repeat my name thrice than cut it to make someone else more comfortable.

The Welfare State Is Homophobic
14 September 2018

Queers are outraged about the proposed regulation of poppers—and the restriction of its recreational use. And rightly so. The arguments against these regulations are convincing—it’s your body and your choice to ingest whatever substance you like. But every new prohibition on social behaviours comes from somewhere and we should ask what made regulating poppers possible in the first place, to properly critique these immoral policies.

Creative

Hollow
30 November 2018

His fingernails are covered in dirt,
their black edges resemble black
moons black wings of Death’s-head
hawkmoths and black birds.

Ho Ho Hold Up!
30 November 2018

The night was sweltering, despite all the jingles. Snow was a laughable concept for this part of the globe. A white Christmas even more so. Handcrafted snowflakes in windows were a poor substitute, but this festive season brought out a desperation like no other. Harry made himself comfortable on the roof, keeping his swinging legs from hitting the gutter. It was imperative that his hiding spot wasn’t compromised, for his opponent had been in the game long enough to prove a worthy challenge.

Dark Imaginings: Three Gothic Tales of Wonder
16 November 2018

These three stories are the winning entries from the gothic-themed micro-story competition associated with the exhibition Dark Imaginings: Gothic Tales of Wonder curated by Special Collections in the Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library. The challenge was to use 300 words (or less) to tell a gothic story. While the exhibition focused on the gothic from c 1750 to 1900, the competition was open to free interpretation of the word “gothic”.

A Small Collection of Things in Reverse
24 October 2018

She was on her knees by a depressive begonia.
“They’re not getting any air in here,” she said when she saw me. “It’s gotten to the point where I have to go around breathing on them, multiple times a day.”
I unloaded the box on the kitchen counter.

Semantics
24 October 2018

  in a cabin above the irksome sea where the electric heater thaws us we make pancakes for lunch pasta for dinner we play at domesticity we watch a movie we disagree vehemently the night appoints us fools you tell me you love me let’s retire these ugly games and go to bed

Culture

Review: ‘Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse’
13 December 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is like no other animated or superhero film around. It’s a visual spectacle full of witty one-liners, weird and wonderful characters, and a whole lot of heart, all accompanied by a head-bopping soundtrack.      

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’: A refreshing superhero story with a revolutionary animated style
13 December 2018

‘Into the Spider-Verse’ goes out of its way to present a story that is new and completely untold (at least in the realm of cinema). Everything here feels fresh. Even if at its core it is still just another Spider-Man movie, there’s probably enough new ground covered to push past some of the Spider fatigue you might be feeling.

reflecting, re-examining and relocating
13 December 2018

From the 27th of May to the 3rd of June each year it is National Reconciliation Week. The entire week celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history, as well as invites all of Australia to learn more about our stories and knowledge. It is also important to note that while Reconciliation Week is an important symbolic gesture, reconciliation is an ongoing project of decolonisation of our social, educational, legal and cultural institutions.

The Aesthetics of Perpetual Toil
13 December 2018

Through an extravagant pose plastered on a billboard, Thai-Australian artist Kawita Vatanajyankur asks viewers to consider the human labour expended within their consumption habits. Vatanajyankur’s Carrier II, installed on the exterior of the University of Melbourne’s School of Mathematics and Statistics building, shows her body suspended by ropes against a blue background bearing towering fish baskets. The work illuminates the fraught relationship between humans and their labour by symbolising the tribulations of the Thai fishing industry to a culturally-distanced audience, the University of Melbourne’s crowds. Overall, its dissonant display of beauty, objectification and endurance demands an awareness beyond surface-level aesthetics, soliciting discomfort to create value of the labour beyond indulgent consumptive behaviours.  

Review: Make Love and War: Cold War
5 December 2018

For a Polish iron-curtain period film shot in black and white, this film is remarkably accessible. Its breezy 88-minute runtime surely contributes – while the film’s pace is leisurely, it never feels belaboured.