Tag Archives: nzinternationalartsfestival

First Contact | Flickr – Photo Sharing!


Part of the Visual Arts programme in the New Zealand International Arts Festival, First Contact was one of the free opening events for the 2012 festival. Tuffery was given special access to the Te Papa collections – what a thrill to be able to look in all those secret drawers and files! Museums always have more out the back than they are able to display in the public spaces. Sometimes that stuff is too delicate to display, or not in the right condition, or the museum doesn’t have the right display spaces for it. Tuffery aimed to bring the museum inside to the outside by projecting it onto the two main building facades at the front of Te Papa.

The opening starts off quite slowly with wiggly-sharp lines and breathy music reminiscent of the beginning of the world. It rolls through Pacific peoples and artifacts, European contact, natural world collections in the museum, art, shelving and file drawers. On the Festival opening night there were live performers and live visuals mixed in with the projection.This was pretty cool, even if I couldn’t see the performers most of the time. (I was standing behind a group of tall people who somehow managed to migrate closer to me as the evening went on.) My favourite parts of the evening were the men with poi, the amazing dancers, and steam punk Maori style.

This is a fairly long show (90 mins) so take a chair if you plan to stay for the whole thing. Further back (towards the road unfortunately) is better so you can take in both sides of the projection. There won’t be live music so download the soundtrack before you go. There do seem to be several sections so I think it would be okay to see part of it one night, then another part another night. I thought there were lots of witty and clever moments scattered through the projection. Sometimes that came from use of the building (i.e. objects that float across the top of the windows) and sometimes that came from the way objects were used (e.g. portraits looking at each other.) I also liked the way that the implements of archiving and preservation were used.

First Contact by Michel Tuffery in the New Zealand International Arts Festival, on to 18 March, 8:30pm, Te Papa forecourt.

Credits: Artist: Michel Tuffery ; Music Director: Daimon Schwalger (The Nomad); Music Courtesy of The Nomad, Horomona Horo, Rayjah45, Rhombus In Dub, The Vehicle.

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Happy as bro, it’s Monday


Today I braved the queue for the chance to get a $20 ticket from the Festival caravan. I was there from 10.55am ish (tickets om sale from 12.30pm.  If you’re planning to do the same – take your jacket. The sun is behind the buildings all morning and it’s freezing.)  I missed out on my first choice but managed to get a ticket to something that I was planning to see on Tuesday – Happy as Larry.

Apparently it’s based on the enneagram of nine personality types. They’re doing an Art Talk tomorrow so I’ll be able to find out more about that aspect of it.  The dancers were very talented and had some excellent choreography to play with.  They were crisp in their movements.  I liked the use of the moving wall to slip between scenes.  It was also used as a chalkboard (including the most ingenious direction to turn off cellphones) a climbing wall, a dance partner, a diving board and an instruction sheet.  Although there were several pieces that showed how humans like to one-up each other the overall feeling I got was one of positivity and happiness.

I think the people I know enjoyed it too – there were a few reenactments going on in the foyer afterwards.

Sniper update: Last seen on his cell phone in a store window.

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Taking a chance on music #NZfest

Sunday's festivalling was a bit of a mixed bag.?? I thought I'd take a punt on some of the musical things.?? (It's not that I don't like music but a couple of years pushing buttons in a radio station means that I blank a lot of it out.)?? After buying my $20 ticket to Peaks of Cloud at the festival caravan I called into the gallery to have a look at the abstract art of Milan Mrkusich.?? I especially like the large blue one (which might be called 'darkness' or it might be called 'blue.).?? It reminded me of a galaxy far, far away.?? Very contemplative.?? #win

The first of my three muscial things was a short talk by David Downes on two of his short films.?? Since he was billed in the Music sesion of the Festival he concentrated on describing the sound/music side of the films.?? One of them was made up of everyday noises set to images.?? This influenced his second film 'Generation' which had a piano track at its core.?? I found it interesting to hear that he applied for the Creative NZ grant (who he thanked several times) because he'd been writing a lot of music for dance and was tired of not being able to control the dancers.?? He ended up playing the piano himself instead of hiring someone to do it for him.?? I'd like to hear him talk about the animation in the film too and whether the images came first or the music.?? He said that it was based on a poem he wrote a long time ago (the words are included in the film.) #win

A quick coffee stop then back to the Town Hall to watch "Breath of wind."?? After the very interesting Karlheinz Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet I was expecting interesting things from the 'sound and video work featuring 17 hot air balloons and the Levin Brass Band'.?? Shouldn't have got my hopes up.?? I think I stayed there as long as I did mostly from disbelief that it was anything other than filming a bunch of band members warming up while being drowned out by the roar of the balloon gas. Transfixed by the audacity.?? #wtfArt

My final show was a recital by Keith Lewis (tenor) and pianist Michael Houstoun (pianist).?? They covered 300 years of music.?? I have to be honest and say that it wasn't my bag.?? They were very talented and I did like some of the individual pieces.?? Favourites – the measured timing of the first piece "So when the glittering Queen of night" (Henry Purcell – realization by Benjamin Britten (don't know what that means);?? As it is plenty W.H. Auden (part of On this Island by Benjamin Britten (don't know what that means either.)?? They also performed the world premiere of 'Peaks of Cloud: a song cycle for tenor and piano; with poems by Janet Frame; composer Jenny McLeod.?? The women behind me loved it.?? The man sitting next to her didn't. (Hilariously he said that he guessed he had to move with the times and that he was from Timaru (a town with special significance for NZ Twitter users.))?? I didn't really like the dissonance but it might improve on a second listen (I very rarely like something on the first go. Usually it takes 3 or 4 .)?? My favourite from that set was the poem called "Lament for Lakes" which is in a made up language.?? (I'd like to hear what NZ rock bands could make of some of Frame's poems.) #meh

So interesting but not entirely successful.

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NZ International Festival of the Arts


I’m at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts for a few days.  Yay!  (I’ve wanted to get here for ages and everything has just fallen into place this year.)  I’ll have photos up in a couple of weeks (don’t want to leech all the wifi in this house…like last time *OOPS*).

There are lots of free events on during the festival.  Today was the start of “Revolt of the Mannequins“.  It’s several stories that develop through scenes in shop windows using mannequins as models.  There are ten stories scattered around the CBD.  (Pick up a map from the festival caravan or download the PDF.  I’m intrigued by the mannequin who has been shot by the sniper on the Kirks roof.)  It’s as much a treasure hunt as anything else.  The tableaus blend into general shop fronts.  Tip – look for a bunch of people on the pavement.

At lunch time I was in the City Gallery for ‘Watch This Space’ a site-specific dance improvisation by the Footnote dancers.  (Some of the people there were obviously unaware that something was happening.  I overheard them asking each other if they should call the gallery staff.)  There are several galleries – the creative director was amused by people running like ‘lemmings’ from space to space.  I stayed up in the galleries displaying Séraphine Pick’s work not realising that there were more dancers downstairs.  After a 20 minute display of athleticism and grace the dancers gathered downstairs to perform a short excerpt from MTYLand.  They are possibly going to have a repeat performance next week after their secondary school workshops.  (These will be in the gallery as well. I really like the trend towards performances/rehersals that aren’t confined to traditional performance spaces.  It seems to me that it helps break the idea that ‘culture’ is only for a small selction of society.)

After that I nipped over to the Wellington Town Hall to have a look at “Music in the eye” an exhibition of graphic scores by NZ composers.  Basically the composers were interpreting music as art.  At least I think that’s what it was…I like the ones that were reminiscient of crop circle diagrams. 

My final free thing for the day was a film.  “Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet” was about the process involved in staging Karlheinz Stockhausen’s piece of music for a string quartet and four helicopters.  Completely mad but also very compelling.  I can’t figure out why it’s billed as ‘controversial’ unless it is the idea of using helicopters in music.  Is is music?  Is it art? Is it a spectacle?  I reckon it’s all three. (My favourite scene – when the four helicopters are hovering and moving in a line down the runway and the soundtrack is only ambient countryside with the sound of wind and buzzing flies.)

I’ve also been to a couple of the Art Talks which I’m finding fascinating.  Another show tonight then hopefully off to the Pacific Blue Festival Club for drinks.  So far so good!

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Apollo 13 : Mission Control


This is a show where the audience are part of the cast.  It’s based on the story of the Apollo 13 Mission.  The Hackman creative team have worked hard to balance the story with interactivity. 

Here’s how it works.

There is a core cast who determine the direction of the story from the floor.  They play the lead team in Mission Control as well as two of the three astronauts.  There are two ticket options.  The slightly more expensive option is for Console seating where you get to play the part of a controller.  You could be a surgeon, communicator, Navy representative, booster controller or a number of other roles.  There are tasks to complete and notes to write.  You choose how much you want to do.  The cheaper option is to be part of the Press Gallery and just watch the action.  One lucky audience member also gets to be the guest astronaut for the night.

Go see this show.  Trust me.

Apollo 13: Mission Control at NZ International Arts Festival
On until 9 March 2010, tickets $43 (Console seating sold out.)

Apollo 13: Mission Control at Sydney Opera House, The Studio
20-28 March 2010

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