Wellington Performance Arcade – Exhibition Review

By Mayke Blom

18-22nd February 2015

I walk around and through carefully placed sets of shipping containers, each one containing a performed installed artwork. There is a bar and a stage and seating welcoming the passers-by to socialize and pause a moment to peek around corners and engage with a fleeting experience. The 5 day show runs all day and into the hours of the evening until dark.

I feel curious and confronted with contrasting performances that ask me to engage on many different levels. There’s a studio set up like a stage, asking for requests of personal stories, a peep-hole to look at a star-wars psychologist where people open up about their feelings in a closed off room. Or stand in front of a photographer who decides to take your picture whilst she’s nude. Some of the less confronting works are passive observational pieces or are devoid of human interactions altogether. This includes work like time machine where you can zip back and forth to reflect on passers-by of the waterfront. Or Rainscape, a passage from one end of the container to the other, engaging with the textures, sounds, the density of the air and visual effects.

The flurry of diversity and the way it engages as an intervention of an everyday space encourages me to see it as an amusement park of art ‘objects’. Some of the works are out of containers and are moving through the city, really pushing for the manifestation of art to integrate into the spirit of ‘creative Wellington’. I feel like there is a drive for continued engagement as a yearly event, offering an opportunity for artists to reflect in art making of changing presentation landscapes.

I feel like when art tries to engage with a public audience the reactions are limited and the time spent with the works is reduced. The experience/intervention becomes a memory through the media, and identifies within the contained space of the urban and of the shipping container, confining the work dimensional limitations. However of course these limitations are innate unless of course you introduce the use of audiovisual installation, in which the performance arcade successfully integrates the variety of works this year.

I like how this event is transferable to other urban environments, with shipping containers being a globally accessible object. I feel like the independent works could function a bit more successfully on their own as they sometimes blend into one another, perhaps through practical application.

Having been involved as a volunteer in the set-up of the work, I think the Performance arcade has definitely developed since its first production 5 years ago. As an interventionist event it challenges new modes of presentations of performance art and culturally increases accessibility and awareness of performance art practice. As well as strictly performance works, the arcade travels across art disciplines to include AV set ups, installation and object art, interactive and combining media enhancing and questioning the context of installation and performativity space.

The arcade interprets an artwork as a performed space, an interactive experienced environment between a staged spatial or figurative composition. This environment would definitely help me better comprehend audience engagement and interactivity through use of limited space within my own work as a semi-interactive audiovisual installation.

Wandering Objects by artist Lucy Wardle – Exhibition Review

By William Hadwen

Lucy Wardle’s recent work in the 2015 Wellington Performance Arcade, ‘Wandering Objects’ featured a shipping container with one open end for participants to enter through, while the other end was occupied by a transparent pink wall. This performance felt approachable and welcoming and participation was quiet and contemplative compared to the more intense and confronting performances I have experienced. Inside the container was a rather inviting pile of what I could only describe as elephant trunks, constructed with hundreds of threaded floral rounds, cut from warm-tone woollen blankets.

In regard to presentation, once lying on the woollen trunks – intertwined and content – I noticed lights had been installed in the ceiling of the container, emphasising the pink glow of the transparent wall and dowsing the interior with an artificial pink glow. This saturated illumination gradually diffused toward the opening, which appeared to provide a certain natural green glow from the outside world caused by my eyes’ over compensation in reaction to the overpowering pink setting. While this work was certainly presented as a contemporary interactive performance – it was in the Performance Arcade, after all – it also showed certain formal qualities which I didn’t expect and was in fact pleasantly surprised by. The processes employed involved both physical objects within the space and a study of light and human visual perception, purposefully displacing what one would expect to see and offering a filtered view of reality – we don’t realise what we take for granted because… we take it for granted.

Simple objects with elements of complexity within a rigid, strongly geometric space brought a certain physical minimalism with potentially darker undertones of a more gruesome or bodily narrative, inside the belly of a whale perhaps. Willing participants, consumed into the warmth of a nurturing interior. My favourite aspect of this sculptural installation was the intentional use of light on the ceiling and walls of the container, it was as though it offered two different poles between the artificial pink overload and exaggerated green compensation. The undulating metal surface alternated between bars of pink and green light, each becoming thicker toward their respected end, but meeting harmoniously and in balance at the center of the container’s interior surfaces.

The success of this work was its understated immersiveness.

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