Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announcing her pregnancy from her Pt Chevalier home / William Henry Margetson, At The Cottage Door, c.1900. (Image: Lawrence Smith/Stuff)

NZ Art Parallels: This pregnancy is going to be an art-parallel goldmine

NZ Art Parallels is the Twitter account which reveals the hidden connections between world art history and New Zealand politics and media. Now NZ Art Parallels has joined The Spinoff for a monthly column collecting the best parallels from Twitter and exclusive Spinoff-only content.

There are two types of parallel: the no-brainer – the one where the politician or situation mirrors almost exactly an extant artwork – and then the one where some editorialising happens.

By far the most popular parallels are the literal ones, and it’s a bonza moment when one presents itself. The editorialised parallels, on the other hand, tend to attract comments from ‘Twitter eggs’ and other assorted trolls. The thread of replies to the original tweet quickly becomes the comments section I always dreamed of.

The Spinoff Featured Parallel of the Month

Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy announcement blew the nation and its media apart. No-one could see this coming, apart from NZ Art Parallels, in a post from back in August last year:

We’d have to overlook several crucial facts to really get this parallel to click at the narrative level, but on a visual level it works.

Given the five or so months we have left of this very public pregnancy, there will be a million opportunities to parallel Ardern with artworks. So here is one especially for The Spinoff readers, and congratulations to the PM on her exciting news.

Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announcing her pregnancy from her Pt Chevalier home / William Henry Margetson, At The Cottage Door, c.1900. (Image: Lawrence Smith/Stuff)

The parallel here is about the impact of opening the door on the pregnancy. Jacinda has not only opened the door of her house in Pt Chevalier, she’s opened the floodgate of personal opinion and outrage. Also, the way the Margetson figure opens the door is the expected behaviour; the smiling face of polite compliance, whereas Ardern looks somewhat bemused and incredulous at the interest.

Most of us can just shut that front door, but the PM cannot, and hopefully she’ll be able to have some time to just enjoy the pregnancy. Surely, we call all agree on that.

Most popular parallel

Sam Neill narrates a good overview of this Walters series here.

Walters is the master of the reductive motif, and Simon Bridges the master of the redacted transport document. What a hot mess this document is; it’s as if Bridges’ office asked for everything including the full-stops to be redacted. [link]

Uncanny resemblances of the month

Speaking of Bridges, how much does he look like a young Claude Monet here? The greaser hair, the thousand-yard stare, the awful shiny tie. Like Monet, Bridges is image-conscious and creates the impression that he might one day lead something—and it’s not the impressionist art movement. He’s been in the news alot lately, especially trying to convince us that he’s just a chilled-out entertainer who likes nothing more than tapping the skins and Sting, in between document-redaction duties. [link]

Even JuCo seemed to appreciate this one. Is there a further parallel in this beyond round glasses and similar hairstyles? The answer is, no, there isn’t. [link]

Competition of the month

In December, Judith Collins appeared on The AM Show with housing minister Phil Twyford. During their relaxed banter, she presented Twyford with a play builder’s set so he could fix the housing crisis. Twyford then made a comment about a builder’s belt and it dissolved into bad, filthy, 60th-birthday-card humour; meantime a competition was born. Judith’s face was a picture of snark, and her offering to Twyford attracted myriad suggestions, here:

The winner was @bertnigel with this beauty which had been used in a previous NZ Art Parallel here, showing then-prime minister John Key ham-fistedly trying to drive a nail into a hoarding – shaming us on the international stage as a country of apparently incompetent DIY-obsessed losers. [link]

Animal of the month

Te Ururoa Flavell’s dog came up somewhere on Twitter, and it looked just like Nolde’s Frau, even down to the collar/necklace.

Emil Nolde was primarily a printmaker and he was one of the first Expressionists, an art movement that went more for feeling over form, and no-one showed more feeling in the last election results than Te Ururoa Flavell. [link]

Backbencher of the month


Brett Hudson is seen here holding a prawn while a boy holds a lobster in an artwork. His suit is grey and the boy’s clothing is grey. It’s no more complex than that. Honestly, neither – probably – is Brett Hudson.

That’s the thing about New Zealand politics and self-promotion: it’s the banality of these moments that makes them so unintentionally amusing, and Brett Hudson is probably well aware of this, to be fair. [link]

The ‘Holiday Special’ parallel


Neil Finn’s pav was one of the many joys of Christmas Twitter, as things really wound down and there was very little political action to parallel beyond some barbeque thing or some MP for Rodney’s glass of Christmas booze. Finn’s pav looked instantly just like this tondo by Michelangelo. You can even see the Virgin’s left arm curving around; the rest lacks detail, but just go with it. The tondo shape, or circle, also reminds us of eternity, which is the length of Finn’s recording career. In a good way. [link]

Jacket of the month

This slot is usually inhabited by Hosking, but one day out of literally nowhere in the Waikato, this contender turned up in an hilarious Christmas suit, probably sourced from the Look Sharp Store, Hamilton East. Even so, boy did it create a sensation that day in parliament and on social media, and now his name is etched into our collective consciousness forever. Possibly.

It’s pretty hard to find an exact parallel for Christmas suits, so a “colour it in yourself” sad harlequin was selected. [link]

Hungriest politician

No one was hungrier in 2017 than Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross. The plight of the hungry politician became all too real, and Ross let his feelings known, in no uncertain terms, that he was fucking starving. So sad to see someone miss a meal break because of work.

Ross was paired with a well-heeled and equally hungry-looking toddler, for effect. [link]

The te reo debate parallel


The discussion around the use of te reo on the radio – and indeed anywhere – really drew out the trolls in 2017 in way that was neither funny nor wholly constructive. However, what the discourse did do was get many of us to take part in conversations about our own use of te reo, and we saw enrolments in te reo courses surge. Radio New Zealand continued to cop it from angry texters who were absolutely bewildered by this archaic language that they thought had been dealt with in 1840, especially since Guyon and Susie weren’t actual marhrees, so why were they bothering to mihi their audience in the mornings? Couldn’t we just have the bird call and proper news and get on with it?

This parallel reflected some of those conversations, and the work of Kahukiwa is rich in suggestions about lost language, identity and tikanga. Plus it’s pretty choice the way the body language is mirrored in each. [link]

New Year’s Eve parallel

New Year is huge in New Zealand and while this was obviously nothing to do with politics, it was everything to do with New Zealand boozing culture, of which to some extent, we are all a part. Even the local police coveted this drinking set-up and the story made its way right around the world.

The parallel had to be with eternal weirdo Bosch, who always has strange hierarchical scenarios punctuated with grog-drinking cretins. [link]


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