Culture in Otira
Art installation / Film / Electronica
16 January to 13 February 1999
Otira, Highway 73, West Coast route Southern Alps, New Zealand
Fake cemetaries, water-filled corridors, underwater faultlines, moa
sightings, and systematic rose planting...
From 16 January to 13 February the virtually uninhabited township of
Otira will play host to one of the most ambitious art projects the South
Island has seen in recent years. Over 30 artists from New Zealand, Australia,
Japan, Germany, and the USA will be taking over the Southern Alps ghost
town for the Oblique project, a month long extravaganza of site specific
installation, video, film and interactive performance.
Otira Set amidst the rugged
surrounds of the Otira Valley in the heart of the Arthur's Pass, the
abandoned town may seem an unlikely spot for a project of this nature.
While Otira was formerly the hub of the NZ Rail and Civil Works Departments
for the West Coast/Arthur's Pass region, it has now been abandoned by
all but a few diehard locals and railway engineers. While it's former
inhabitants may be long gone, Otira has certainly not been forgotten,
and enjoyed the lion's share of media attention recently when the entire
town was bought for the paltry sum of $70,000 by a very game Auckland
family, who are refurbishing the hotel and town in time for the Coast
to Coast race and the Oblique project.
Project The artists
participating in Oblique are developing works in response to both the
local phenomena of the site (Otira rests on the South Islands major
fault line) and it's history as a civil works and railways town. For
the purposes of the project the artists will be utilising a number of
houses as well as taking over the abandoned Otira school, railway station
surrounds, swimming pool, play grounds, and community hall. From the
devising of a fake cemetary to a corridor filled with water, and relocation
of a slick designer fashion store, the artists bring together imagination,
technical skills, and a bit of tongue in cheek.
Handscomb, Margaret Dawson, Maria Walls, Maddie Leach, L.Budd, Rae Culbert,
Sean Kerr, Fiona Gunn, Brenda Nightingale, Katherine Claypole, Renee
Boe, Nicholas Sprat, Warren Olds, Emma Bugen, Layla Rudneva-MacKay,
Richard Shaw, Joanne Moar, Olivia Lory Kay, Blank Industries, Douglas
Bagnall, Michael Morley, Amanda Newall, James Meharry, Julaine Stephenson,
Pauline Rhodes, Plummley, Walker and Jonathan Nicol. The Australian
contingent includes David Haines, Jodi Rose, Lisa Kelly, Helen Backen,
Torben Tilly, Alex Gawronski, Garry Kent, Anne Kay, Philipa Veitch,
Bronia Iwanczak, Jane Polkinghorne, Rose Anne McGreevy, Simon Lear and
William Wilson. From further afield Nobuhiro Narumi (Japan), Ed Osborn
(USA), and The Dusseldorf Artists' Archive (Germany) will render their
responses to Otira in audio recordings, video, webworks, and sculpture
addition to this impressive list four contemporary galleries and project
spaces will be curating work for Oblique; Rm 3 from Auckland, The Honeymoon
Suite from Dunedin, and High Street Project and The Physics Room from
Christchurch will all be basing their operations in Otira for the length
of the project.
Making a timely comeback, Canterbury Film Society's Nick Paris, who
until recently ran The Lumiere Cinema, will be staging the Transit film
festival in the Otira community hall, complete with it's own nibble
nook. Short films and videos from New Zealand and overseas will open
feature films such as Vigil, Goodbye Pork Pie, Sleeping Dogs, Smash
Palace, and Tarkovsky's Stalker . The
Transit program will be screened for visitors and locals every Saturday
throughout Oblique's month long duration.
To cap it all off local
dj Pylon is organising
Intersect, the closing night dance party on Saturday 13 February
from 5pm. Intersect's line up includes Pylon, K8, Argyle, Kinesis, Solaa,
Larakin, and Grind.
Radio and SatellitesThere
is no need to panic for those who live outside the transmission area,
the Oblique website (http://www.physicsroom.org.nz/oblique/) will
keep remote audiences informed as the project unfolds. Given the remoteness
of the project location it is not surprising that many of the works
will deal with themes of communication, and several artists are developing
works that will take place not just in Otira but on the Oblique website.
For the audiophiles, RDU radio will be transmitting the sonic version
of Oblique over the month. The Oblique Satellite Stations will be operating
in Christchurch at The Physics Room's new High St location, and a central
Purveyors of fine Kitsch, The Oblique Kiosk will supply the avid souvenir
hunter with postcards, catalogues, and other artist renditions. If the
drive has taken it out of you then Red Bull, Pump, and a mean espresso
awaits to quench your thirst.
dates are 16 January to 13 February 1999. The Transit film festival
will be on every weekend. Keep your eye on the Oblique website for more
details and information on transport and accommodation.
The Oblique Trust is kindly
supported by Creative New Zealand
/ Toi Aotearoa, RDU Radio, Coast to Coast Bus Service, Canterbury
Film Society, Canterbury
University School of Fine Arts, The Otira Hotel, McVicar Timber,
and The Physics Room.
View the contraversial coverage
of Plummley Walker's 'obscene' art in New Zealand print media.
Man removes 'obscene' tax-funded art (Christchurch
Press, February 2, 1999)
Otira art makes fire chief burn (Christchurch
Press, February 3, 1999)
Artist defends Otira project after criticism (Christchurch Press,
February 4, 1999)
Letters to the editor (Christchurch Press, February 4, 1999)
Art's invaluable gift (Christchurch
Press, February 8, 1999)
Julaine Stephenson Project Coordinator