Monday, November 14, 2011

Art in the Dark

Stragagem Bilateral Carousel by Jasmax Grads was a nice spot to lie down and have a rest while gazing up at the lights

I caught the bus up to Auckland on Saturday so I could go to Art in the Dark, the second annual festival of lights in Western Park, Ponsonby. My daughter went last year (she is friends with the organisers and came over from Melbourne to see it) and I was so envious to hear her rave about its wonders that I had to go myself this time.

In the children's playground a long double slide was used as a projection screen to show film of children playing on that very slide, while real people also slide down. It was good fun to try and made me think I should play on slides more often.

It was fabulous, funky, fun to be wandering around an unfamiliar park in the dark with hundreds of other people, their children and dogs. Apparently for many Aucklanders this park (which I'd barely been aware of myself) is little used and perceived as threatening, even in the daytime. Art in the Dark reclaimed the space for two nights with light, sound and activities.

Rainbow Laser by Ben Clegg was best viewed from under an umbrella as the rainbow tunnel was projected through stage smoke and sprinkling water

I'm not very experienced at night photography and so my pictures are very poor compared to those on Art in the Dark's website and Facebook page. I recommend you follow the links to see better images than mine.

Some of the performances were so fleeting, so entrancing and so dynamic that I had no chance of capturing even a bad image. For example, Icarus by Celery Productions was a mysterious and marvelous swooping of enormous white angel wings worn by a man in a suit who flew utterly authentically up and down the gully. I found out later that the rigging is from the Vinter's Luck movie, and up the hill out of my view, a small poignant vignette was enacted between flights. Even without knowing any of that, Icarus was one of the favourite things I saw.

Another outstanding performance was When I Grow Up, in which a group of dancers with LED lights on their suits, danced on a dark hillside. There were no lights on their heads, and their arms were extended with lights to the length of their legs making for a very sci-fi, alien animal kind, yet with human movements.

Many of the pieces were interactive, perhaps none more so than the tree with envelopes by Ella Mizrahi. Envelopes hung from strings of lights draped around a big tree, and when we opened the envelopes we found dozens of different children and adults had contributed a drawing of what could grow on trees (sweeties, money, toys, fruit). We stuffed each drawing back in its envelope and opened another, enjoying the sense of connection with unknown contributors.

Black Gold- Memorial Tree Temple by Brydee Rood referenced my own current inspiration, the grounding of MV Rena on the Astralabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty and the oil spil.

Naturally I was very enthusiastic about the most textile-crafty work in the whole park: Knitting Luminaries. White (machine knit) fabric was stretched and twisted into sculptural forms like giant seashells crossed with fruit, suspended from a big old tree and glowing white white the tree was illuminated with blue. It was serenely beautiful and inspiring.

Knitted Luminaries by Kate Ramsay and Hyungin Yun

Western Park is very large and extends down a steep gully, with many big trees, so that there were surprises illuminating every twist and turn through the dark night. The whole experience was magical and entrancing and I walked around with a smile the whole evening. From high on the hillside, the lights of the Sky Tower and the almost full moon played along, becoming part of the Art in the Dark community, connecting our crowd to the wider city and outer space.


Lou said...

The envelope tree was by Ella Mizrahi, one of the organisers :)

Ampersand Duck said...

That was a glorious post! I can only imagine how much more glorious was the experience... jealous!