ABOUT JESSICA “COCO” HANSELL ///
Writer, musician and visual artist Coco Solid is Jessica Hansell, a Māori/Sāmoan/German artist from Auckland. Hansell started out making her own zines/comics and musically came up through underground punk and rap. She went on to form groups Parallel Dance Ensemble (Permanent Vacation, Germany), Badd Energy (Flying Nun, NZ) and 9-member rap collective Fanau Spa. Hansell also runs projects like Kuini Qontrol (an online hub for podcasts, music and club nights) and Equalise My Vocals (amplifying creative women, LGBTQI and decolonising voices in the Pacific). Hansell is the first woman to direct and write an adult cartoon in New Zealand for network television with her show “Aroha Bridge.” She is part of Piki Films, a small group of Māori/Pasifika screenwriters hand-picked by filmmaker Taika Waititi. She contributed to The Funambulist 24 (Jul-Aug. 2019) Futurism with a text entitled “Island Time: South Pacific Futurism From a Contemporary Aotearoa Perspective.” Learn more on her contributor page.
ABOUT THIS DAILY PODCAST SERIES ///
As many of us are confined in many places of the world, we wanted to provide you with a daily podcast in partnership with Radio Alhara emitting from Palestine. Our ambition for it is to not add to the saturation of information we are currently experiencing but, rather, to propose a daily extension 15-minute of our political imaginaries.
The concept is very simple. Every day, we ask one person the same question: “what is for you a moment of true decolonization?” The answer can be a historial moment or something they witnessed; something heroic and grandiose, or rather discreet and mundane; a durable blow to the structures of colonialism or a short instant of liberation.
While we are recording this podcast in privileged conditions of confinement, we keep in our thoughts the multitude of people around the world who do not share similar conditions or have no choice but to risk being affected by the pandemic because of criminal policies that have to do with neoliberalism, carceralism, or colonialism
We thank you for listening and wish you and your loved ones the very best wherever you are.
(music by hooksounds originals)
NB. The Funambulist daily podcast is also played every day at 3:30PM, Palestine time, on راديو الحارة Radio Alhara, a new radio produced from locked-down Bethlehem and Ramallah, along with another 15-minute production about worldwide solidarity, created specifically by The Funambulist for the purpose of this show.
EPSIODE TRANSCRIPT ///
Jesssica “Coco” Hansell: When I’m posed the question — what is a moment of decolonization that I have experienced — for me, decolonization can only be momentary. In Aotearoa, in New Zealand, we are living under a dominant culture, a dominant psyche, in a dominant worldview, which is being a British colony, being under the Commonwealth. And to me, I can liken that to being like a beautiful, natural piece of wood lacquered with a very heavy varnish. It is very shiny, but you can’t breathe as you would where you are able to grow on your own terms. And that is holistically. That is politically. People can be like: “Oh, you’ve been made into such a beautiful coffee table.”
I use the word “decolonization” in my practice, in my ideology. And that is despite it being a word that suggests that a colonial extraction is possible. I think that is quite puritan, when you break it down: the possibility that we can overwrite this imperial history and its programming, which unfortunately, we can’t. White supremacy being hardwired into nationhood here, means that we can’t recolonize culture. Because there are too many opponents and variables, even internalized variables, as well. That is a binary mentality that I would not want to adopt as an Indigenous person anyway, because that is a colonial style, which I find pretty uninteresting.
For me, decolonization can be found every day in the ruptures. It is when I’m given a chance, when I can seize an opportunity to reword or reframe a hardwired pakia notion, a white train of thought, basically. If I can disrupt that, even if it is fleeting, even if it is a micro aggression, even if it is a big, grandiose situation, it doesn’t really matter. Because it is always fleeting. It is always elusive to me. And that’s what happens when you are in the racket of decolonizing, you become a professional short circuiter. You are a sabre to all that is conditioned and rehearsed by your environment. And that is how I approach the question, like a moment of decolonization as my life story. It is pretty much where we are born into a clusterfuck of moments of decolonization. We are in the business of subversion and confrontation whether we want to be or not. We are constantly fucking with the signups of United Kingdom assumptions of what we as noble, the noble savage should be and how we should act and how we should perform that. The uprising, what that looks like to me as a Mauri Pacifica woman, is a shape shifting dynamic that I have to negotiate every day with everybody I talk to. And for me, it is inside. Decolonization is inside my behavior. It is inside my performances. It is hidden in my choices, the most subtle of alignments. And most of all my language, especially the irony of how I choose to deploy the English language, which has been one of the most ironic weapons of choice that I could possibly have, but it has been very effective.
Léopold Lambert: By the way, I think “A Clusterfuck of Moments Of Decolonization” could have been the name of that series. You were sort of alluding to it right now. Could you tell us how this continuous effort informs your musical work?
JCH: The colonial influence here is very slick, it is very insidious because it pushes this false agenda of grace. What that means is we are delicately forced into this false sense of manners and compliance and cooperation and control because “it is the Kiwi way, it is just so nice and earnest.” And this is a muzzle and a trap. That is often a way that the Crown pushes their cultural shortcomings down our throats. We internalize these things, despite their relevancy to us. So a great way to counteract that and respond to that is volume and high voltage and naming the thing and saying it out loud and repurposing bland renditions of things. And for me, that just happened to be making it into lyrical content, and then hiding it inside the Trojan horse of pop culture, which is what I do full time. I just hide my stuff inside cartoons and rap and literature. It is the way I get it across the line pretty much. And it is the way it lands in the hands of the people that I’m addressing, often. In a way that doesn’t scare them. In a way that makes them have to process because they have to admit they’re enjoying it.
LL: And going back to this notion of moments, the very title of the article that you were super kind to write for us was called Island time, South Pacific Futurism From A Contemporary Perspective. So we go back to this idea of time. The very notion of futurism has the notion of time within itself. How is decoloniality contained in time?
JCH: I think futurism is a good gateway drug to address the question, what is time really? And by that question, you’re asking what is the moment. A life is a moment. This is how I’m viewing time at the moment, especially as it is getting very distorted, our day to day dealings, all of us in quarantine. Time is bending and stretching and doing a lot of awkward things with people’s self perceptions and psychology, which I think is fantastic, because people are almost having to fathom Island time styles, whether they want to or not. They are having to address their Gregorian relationship with it, which is white, you know. They are having to evaluate the dealings on a performative level and take things as they come, and understand that the industrial complex of time, it’s being humiliated at the moment. I think for somebody who really enjoys a Pacifica clock, I’m like just go with the natural unfurling of things. You’re unable to differentiate past, present and future, those things are blending together. And that is a huge component of what I am culturally… that’s how I see things all the time. Those tenses are always in conversation with each other and antagonizing each other. People are getting it at the moment. And I think that is a tip-off that we are in a very special time. Because you sound crazy when you’re talking about this, outside of people’s actually lived daily experiences, people going: “Yes, she’s talking about that trippy relationship with time again,” but now everybody seems to be able to wrap their head around it, which I think is great.
LL: Now, I wish we had this conversation earlier in the series as well, because I realized that taking the notion of moment was very intuitive and was not the result of a very long thought process in any way. And, given my own sensitivity as an architect and the sensitivity of the Funambulist, at large, it would have been much more sensical that we chose to do a space of decolonization instead of a moment of decolonization. But for some reason, the moment was much more intuitive.
JCH: To be fair, some people do resonate with that. Some people do look at this process as an action. It can actually be gritted, it is a fixed experience, which they can actually remember. Me myself, I feel it is like a baseline under everything I do. So it is hard to isolate an incident, where I was able to destabilize the colonial shit that I’m forced to internalize, because that is almost like something that I actively choose to do every day, me and a lot of people in my community. That might sound far-fetched to a lot of people, but that is very much a kaupapa, that is almost like the promise. And it is hard to choose a moment when that is your life work.