They Come From Far Away - Part 1 Live performances

Te Uru Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi, Auckland

10/02/2016 - 13/02/2016

They Come From Far Away

Production Details



They come from far away is a live performance series featuring a mixture of visiting artists from Finland, Germany, the UK, across Aotearoa and other places. The series will explore notions of the familiar/unfamiliar, being alien/belonging, being foreign/local and being seen/unseen.

Co-curated by Leena Kela (Finland), Christopher Hewitt (Germany) and Titirangi’s Mark Harvey, the series will be situated in locations around the surrounding environment, in addition to the main gallery. Live performances will be accompanied by video screenings and public talks.

All events are free. You can download a schedule of performances here.

A full programme can be downloaded here.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Artists include Antti Laitinen, Eero Yli-Vakkuri, Pilvi Porkola in collaboration with Claire O’Neil, Matthew Cowan, Leena Kela, val smith, Stephen Bain and Nisha Madhan, Joshua Sofaer, Oblivia, Mark Harvey and Sean Curham.

Kindly supported by the Chartwell Trust, FRAME, Arts Promotion Center Finland and TINFO.

10-13 February 2016


Antti Laitinen, Eero Yli-Vakkuri, Pilvi Porkola in collaboration with Claire O'Neil, Matthew Cowan, Leena Kela, val smith, Stephen Bain and Nisha Madhan, Joshua Sofaer, Oblivia, Mark Harvey and Sean Curham.


Site-specific/site-sympathetic , Physical , Performance installation , Performance Art , Outdoor , Multi-discipline , Theatre ,


Individual events run times vary

UFO Sightings and Singular Encounters

Review by Christina Houghton 11th Feb 2016

They come from far away but they are NOW definitely here. Te Uru Gallery in Titirangi opened the live performance series They Come from Far Away last night. This exciting program brings together a group of performance artists, theatre practitioners and choreographic artists, exploring notions of the familiar/unfamiliar, being alien/belonging, being foreign/local and being seen/unseen. A reciprocal season to the New Performance Festival in Turku, Finland 2014, where the New Zealand artists participated, NZ artists are now joined by the international artists with new work at the exciting location of Te Uru Gallery. Titirangi is a place that has attracted the arty kind throughout the ages, many of who have in fact come from far away even though they may call it home, through the historic and current colonization of this area. It is also a place that in the 90’s UFO sightings were common. These are some of the themes that are fused into the unusual experiences of the night.

Experience and engagement are the highlights of the work present in the gallery as the guests move between the three floors over two hours. We wipe our feet on Mark Harvey as the Welcome Mat as he chats to us about our carbon footprints and I ask him if he has given up hope (considering he was arguing and about climate change last time I saw him perform at the Prague Quadrennial, and before that he wrestled for Climate Change at the Venice Biennale). He assures me he is quite hopeful for the future and points out he has had someone much larger than me stand on him. Upstairs there is Joshua Sofaer Precious Object in a box, the kind that transports art. His buttocks/midriff is exposed in a gap in the middle and his face appears in a hole on the side of the box. People are engaging in conversation with him, asking him about his golden nose prosthetic and reflecting on how it feels ok to stand in close proximity and look quite closely at his face. He is enduring quite substantial heat and discomfort as this live piece of art. Later Mark Harvey and Leena Kela are wheeled through the gallery on wheeled platforms, pushed by the group of kids and anyone who wants to join in. They are constantly talking about the present moment and how they are feeling. This is fun, but after a while they have been talking a lot so we wheel them to face the wall for a bit. Some of the audience are popping down to the basement to meet Pilvi Porkola for a special gift I will bring you something. I miss out, but hear later that you can choose between three objects and receive a sensory experience as gift from the artist to the participant. This sounds lovely. There are also two video works by Mathew Cowan Shooting the Heavens (outside the gallery) & Nuuttipikki in the main gallery. Both require time to engage in different ways, drawing the audience into being a standing viewer in a quiet moment. They are based on strange rituals from foreign countries and add to themes of strange and unfamiliar, these are probably best seen during the week. The artists here are interested in a 1 to 1 scale of encounter, a single moment that exists then disappears. They also emphasize that these “live art works” are not merely objects to be viewed and consumed, but are part of our every day moving relations. Yet the preparation and structuring of such performances require physical effort, endurance and finely crafted skills thus touch on issues of services, labour and commodity, as well as themes of corporeality, the senses, environmental and social concerns.

As shown with the community response to the recent threat to the local Kauri , Titirangi is about trees. Antti Laitinen is in the basement with his tree reconstruction that will continue for the next three days. Shown at the Venice Biennale opening, he chops up a tree with an axe and then reconstructs it with hammer and nails. This week the tree is local and was obtained from a friend’s garden. The idea of putting something natural back together through man-made fix-it techniques is quite profound and I am interested in following his progress. The evening iconcludes with the highlight of Sean Curham’s Flying Object in the car park behind the gallery. We are completely surprised to see a strange light on top of the building after much anticipation only to see its landing follow a rapid downward acceleration and a loud crash, quite unexpected and brilliant.

Primarily working on the edges of the borders of art theatre and dance, performance at times finds its self as a transient travelling soul fleetingly visiting festivals, halls, galleries and appearing in public spaces. The artist’s talk prior to the opening created interesting discussion about what the artists are doing. It foregrounded performance as the perfect medium for the activating audience and questioning the world we live in, as well as questioning the purpose of art through experimentation and bringing people together. Andrew Clifford, the Artistic Director of Te Uru, supports this series as part of integrating performance as an equally important part of its current exhibition program. It is great that performance has also found a home in this new contemporary gallery.

Many of the works during the week will happen both in and outside the gallery as the week unfolds such as Future Hotel (Nisha Madhan and Stephen Bain) Arts Advice Bureau & This Means You and Val Smith’s Gutter Odes and Other Utterences and Erro Yli-Vakkuri Trans Horse – at The Huia Road Horse Club as well as different performances from the artists already mentioned. Also tonight at the New Lynn Night Markets there will be more to experience from these exciting artists. Often these in-between spaces are where there is most accessibility to the people as real everyday encounters. 

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