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Wellington magazine’s eye on future of the arts

Apr 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News

THE EDITOR of a Wellington magazine wants to see radical change in the creative atmosphere of New Zealand.

Ron Hanson, the editor of innovative art and music magazine, White Fungus left Wellington for Taiwan in 2009.

Now he’s back in the city to study a Masters of Art History, and launch the magazine’s latest issue.

“I’m really excited to be back, and about the new wave of people coming up through art schools.  There are a whole lot of new people for us to cover,” says Mr Hanson.

While enthusiastic about watching New Zealand art culture develop, documenting it has at times been a painful process.

“NZ lacks confidence.  We’re small, we’re young, and we fear failure.  But we should take risks.  We need to say “we only live once”, and if people look down on failure, that’s their problem,” he says.

Mr Hanson knows this from personal experience.  He estimates that for every 100 people he talked to in the course of setting up White Fungus, 90 didn’t respond.

“But you get to tipping points.  You work for ages.  It’s a hard grind, but you can get there with vision.  You just have to keep at it.”

Evidence of triumph over adversity is the success of White Fungus itself. It has evolved from a one-off political protest against the Wellington bypass to an internationally respected publication stocked in Europe, Asia, USA and Canada.

The magazine currently features in the Millennium Magazines exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at the Publish and Be Damned festival at the ICA in London.

Mr Hanson believes New Zealand has a unique perspective, forged by an isolation he thinks we share with Taiwan.

“Being from NZ gives you a different perspective to the rest of the world.  We can play on our difference and uniqueness,” he says.

“It is the harnessing of our potential that needs to happen.”

“New Zealand has at times shown real leadership in its history like the anti-nuclear movement – when we weren’t afraid to stick up for ourselves and seize on what we can be.”

“The rest of the time we tend to follow.  But nobody cares if we follow.  The world is interested in when we do our own thing,” he says.

While mainstream achievements in New Zealand are celebrated, Mr Hanson wants to see  experimental art and music fully recognised here.

“We have twenty years of really exiting creative achievements that we should be proud of, but the underground and experimental art scene needs to be really established and celebrated – not just Flight of the Conchords and Peter Jackson,” he says.

Mr Hanson’s brother Mark Hanson remains in Taiwan as co-editor of White Fungus, and the duo intend to continue coverage of New Zealand culture from a global perspective.

You can check out Issue 12 at

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