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By Miriam Cosic in The Saturday Paper

Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s otherworldly paintings were hidden for most of the 20th century. She wanted it that way. Born in Stockholm in 1862, she died in 1944 at the age of 81. Her will stipulated that her work not be shown to the public until at least 20 years later, as she believed the world was not ready for her ideas. Indeed, when a few of her works were shown for the first time in a 1986 exhibition in Los Angeles, The Spiritual in Art, they received little attention.

When her…


By Martin McKenzie-Murray in The Monthly

This week, the Pentagon briefed the House Intelligence Committee on UFOs — or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) in the newly revised jargon. An unclassified report will be made public soon, possibly next week, and it will crown a sort of renaissance of public interest in alien visitation.

This renaissance is attributable, in part, to preemptive leaks of the report, and an influential New York Times story, splashed on its front page in December 2017, about a “shadowy” military inquiry into what two of its navy pilots had described in 2004 as an inexplicable encounter…


By Mahmood Fazal in The Monthly

OneFour rapper J Emz. Photograph by Jonathan Tumbel

Beyond the fog, we see public housing and powerlines. A palm tree blows in the wind outside a white fibro house. Two mattresses are leaning against a wooden fence. There are broken bicycles and broken windows.

Sporting long braids, tracksuits and Gucci caps, a gang of rappers have come home to Mount Druitt, in Sydney’s west. Hulking and charismatic, J Emz stares down the barrel of the camera and spits, “I come from Mounty — that’s home of the brave.” Black and white images of Western Sydney romanticise the disarray that energises them. …


By Santilla Chingaipe in The Saturday Paper

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ television adaptation of The Underground Railroad is a brilliant and deeply moving depiction of slavery in America.

Aaron Pierre as Caesar and Thuso Mbedu as Cora in The Underground Railroad. Credit: Amazon Prime.

If you were around in the late 1970s, the chances are that you are one of millions of people around the globe who watched the original Roots television series. If you happen to be Black and of African descent, watching Alex Haley’s mini-series was an unofficial rite of passage.

I recall the first time I watched it on a VHS tape my family had borrowed. I must have been about eight. After…


By Elizabeth Finkel in The Monthly

Credit: Jeff Fisher

Human embryos cloned from skin cells, mouse fetuses grown in incubators, human-monkey embryos… It’s not a line-up from the latest Netflix sci-fi series. This was the stuff of news headlines in March and April.

“These really are big steps,” says Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Hyun sits on the ethics committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which advises researchers and policy-makers. “Taken together they might make some people nervous,” acknowledges University of Melbourne bioethicist Megan Munsie, the committee’s chair.

At a time when…


By Naomi Stead in The Saturday Paper

Supplied: Australian War Memorial

When Scott Morrison announced on November 1, 2018 that the government would provide $498 million over nine years to fund a major redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial (AWM), he described the place as “the soul of the nation … sacred to us all. It transcends politics, it transcends all of us.”

Despite Morrison’s overt religiosity and hyperbole here, he’s not wrong. The commemorative spaces at the national memorial are deeply moving: the bronze Roll of Honour with its embossed names and poppies pressed into the cracks, the pool of reflection and eternal…


By Anwen Crawford in The Saturday Paper

As My Bloody Valentine add their lauded back catalogue to streaming services, and hint at the prospect of new music, Kevin Shields describes the fascinations and inventions that gave the band their sound.

My Bloody Valentine (from left) Kevin Shields, Colm Ó Cíosóig, Bilinda Butcher and Debbie Googe. CREDIT: STEVE GULLICK

“The truth is it’s nearly like performance art,” says Kevin Shields, describing how it feels to play live with his band My Bloody Valentine — a band that has existed, on and off, for almost 40 years. “You could say, ‘It represents the struggle between the fragile human and the machines we’ve created.’ ”

On the side of the fragile…


By Sarah Krasnostein in The Monthly

Richard Pusey, April 2020. © Michael Dodge / AAP Images

From what was revealed in court, it seems that on the early evening of Wednesday, April 22 last year, the world of Richard Pusey, populated only by Richard Pusey, was a place where every possible form of justice was possessed exclusively by Richard Pusey. In this empty interior realm, moral law was coordinated to his exclusive benefit, legal justice did not exist, remunerative justice had rewarded him because he was good, and vindictive justice had eliminated his enemies.

One month before, on March 21, Pusey’s black Porsche 911 had been captured on camera speeding…


By Anwen Crawford in The Monthly

Photograph by Eric Welles-Nyström

In 2015, six years ago almost to the month, Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophonist and a lion of jazz, last played in Australia. His set was performed with a local pickup band at Sydney’s Carriageworks, and reprised several compositions by the late John Coltrane, whose band Sanders joined in the mid 1960s — but these were not the tempestuous sound-paintings that would confirm both Coltrane and Sanders, on albums like Ascension (1966), as leaders of the free jazz avant-garde. …


By Katrina Lobley in The Saturday Paper

Although Tasmania’s last passenger train service ceased operations more than four decades ago, rail enthusiasts still have ample opportunities to enjoy living history.

Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway steam train.
CREDIT: WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY

Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway attracts your everyday tourist, along with a certain type of enthusiast. “You have your ‘puffer nutters’, as we like to call them,” says Andrew Wiles, the heritage steam train’s guest experience supervisor and guide, as we chug back towards Queenstown’s moonscape — a legacy of mining, toxic fumes and logging. In 2021, the train is so popular with Australia’s trapped travellers that you have to…

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Publisher of The Saturday Paper and The Monthly. We publish intelligent news and current affairs that breaks the 24-hour news cycle.

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