Art in the Dark 2011

Western Park, Ponsonby, Auckland

11/11/2011 - 12/11/2011

Production Details

Art in the Dark is a community art event, held at night in Ponsonby’s very own Western Park.

On the 11th and 12th of November, the park will transform into a community hub, lit by installations, short films and live performances. We’ve challenged local artists to create illuminating art works that are powered by clean, eco friendly energy. So come along (it’s free!), explore the park, and see art in a whole new light.

Why Art in the Dark?

At Art in the Dark, we believe in celebrating the artistic talents of our local community. So we’ve turned Western Park into an art gallery that everyone can enjoy, free of charge. We hope to inspire people to think sustainably and be eco friendly. That’s why many of the artworks are solar powered or made from recycled materials. We wanted to create a space where the community can come together and experience a unique and beautiful event, in their own backyard.

Art in the Dark

Western Park, Ponsonby
11 & 12 November 2011

Angus Muir, Nova Paul, Ben Clegg, Ella Mizrahi, Amy Potenger & Jessamyn Gemming, Celery House with Alex Leonhartsberger, JX Grad Lads, Jules Turner, Lia Kent Mackillop, Anja Harrison & Xanthe Harrison, Kate Ramsay & HyunJin Yun, Melissa Durbin, Emily Priest, Adelle  Rodda Jennie Robertson & Dan Veint Marcel Allen  & Renee Warner, Niamh Peren, Che O'Donnell Gibson  & Will Reece, Lara Fischel Chisholm with Cut Collective, Isobel  Dryburgh, Trevor  Reive, Jon Chapman Smith Fuman, La Lumiere,  The Velociteers, Annabel Harrison, Brydee Rood, Kristina Levings, Asumi Mizuo, Julia  Oram  

3 hours

That was some enchanted evening!

Review by 13th Nov 2011

Well! That was some enchanted evening! The second night of Art in the Dark at Western Park seemed to have lost some of its advertised live performance elements but actually, it was quite difficult to separate out the dancers from the spectators and the choreographers from the moment by moment unfolding social spectacle.

Much of the evening’s ambience and the extraordinary feeling of utter safety despite being in an urban park after dark resulted from light effects. Children swung and slid on the playground equipment lit with coloured balloons, creating their own delicious soundtrack. Even the cables for the mass lights and tree roots played a part. Certainly the old man seated quietly on a large stump took on a performance quality. This is one event that exposes Auckland citizens’ yearning for art as part of the script of everyday life, and the expression of a rather whimsical society.

Apart from the grandness of the trees lit with neon, the mighty nature of the forest was enhanced by the soft occasional whoosh of wings from out of a visible construction of wires and pulleys. Debonaire, Alex Leonhartsberger is Icarus, a white-winged angel in a black suit strapped into the beautiful machinery originally built for Elizabeth Knox’s movie, The Vintners Luck. Gliding beautifully, he exposes a dancer’s subtle evocative movements on takeoff and landing, ready to greet his waiting bride (Ella Mizrahi on night one but unnamed on night two), all dressed in white. She is very still as she sits amongst her audience entourage, waiting for his arrival. She greets the angel and they move to a park bench, where he kisses her, then departs. The bride is sad, and so are we, at this a forlorn romance presented by Celery Productions, perfectly pitched at the gentle, somehow colonial pace of Western Park.

I search in vain for Tread Lightly, solos by Annabel Harrison dressed in costumes with embedded LED lights, but along the way I follow the Stilt Tui Bird, a Morag Brownlie creation with help of lightsuit master, Vospertron, processing up the hill with support from a torch-holding helper who lights the hollows and tree roots so they can be avoided, and keeps the audience from tangling with the stilts in the dark.  

When I Grow Up is a dance of disarray presented by Jules Turner, Rya Allen, Mandy Alves, Lucy McGall and Nataljer Emeschajmer dressed in suits decorated with LED lights, cleverly choreographed to shift our gaze beyond the human dancing body into the spaces between the dancers and the surrounding environment. The Fighting Kitten Friends, an energetic creation of virtual, accumulative fighter roles in computer games by Jennie Robertson and Dan Veint becomes a human kinetic performance with a strangely non-human perspective.

Other notable and exquisitely presented works include Kate Ramsey and Hyunjin Yun’s, Knitted Luminaries, glowing white knitted yarns hanging like vine detritus and cocoons from a tree. In a marvelous juxtaposition of urban deconstructed art; Lara Fischel-Chisholm & Cut Collective’s highlighting of the instant in art, the belonging and the replaceable with their work, Whose Wall Is This. The toilet wall shows the antic action of street graffiti artists continuously painting and erasing, painting and erasing.

There is no real ending to the evening. It is a seamless event with a warm, receptive and comfortable crowd. Hundreds of people take in the peaceful surveys of imaginative minds and bodies of the selected artists. This year, Art in the Dark focusses on the way art and light and expansive snatches of recorded music can allay our habitual fears of walking in parks after dark, and I think the mix of nature, design machination and art is perfect. This show deserves a month’s exposure. If only it were so easy. While I was walking, I was also pondering how the event management and sponsors could afford performers night after night while maintaining free entry. Self imposed funding anxiety aside, I for one can see how this event could become as perennial as the Franklin Road lights, the Otara markets, the Antique fairs — and  I  look forward to next year’s event already.


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