Cramming together Auckland's creative community in the Basement Theatre for a mysterious five-day festival, the organisers wait tentatively for The Experiment to begin.
When you try something out for the first time, you don’t always know what to expect. But even in its second year, this Auckland art festival is planning on being unpredictable.
The Experiment is a five-night art carnival kicking off tonight. The Basement Theatre will be transformed into a hive of urban art with over 30 artists and installations including live music, street art, comedy, and dance.
The event, which is true to its name, will be larger and slightly more structured than last year, says event organiser Karl Sheridan.
“[Last year] it was something that people hadn’t seen before, which is why it’s called The Experiment, because no one really knew what was going to happen.
“It was an experiment that could have gone either way. Some things worked, some things didn’t. It was about trying them out in the first place. It was about trying new collaborations and introducing the artists to crowds.”
This year, hosted by production company Monster Valley, The Experiment marks the return of sculptors, hospitality, and public speaking in one space, and watching what unfolds along with their audience.
“We’re consciously putting [different] people together hoping that something will happen,” says another event organiser, Taylor MacGregor. “It's exciting not knowing how it's all going to turn out.”
Featuring a varied lineup, including Tourettes, Rackets, and Randa, this year’s festival will also include a special artistic performance by Chris Knox.
MacGregor says one of the most exciting moments for him came when Knox confirmed his interest in The Experiment via a Facebook selfie.
“[Having him involved] has been a dream come true,” MacGregor beams.
As well as showcasing immersive art, this year Sheridan and MacGregor are also collaborating with Boosted and The Arts Foundation, hosting panel discussions and educating creative people about how to fund their careers. Boosted are also crowd-funding to donate directly to the artists involved.
Auckland based musician Randa [Mainard Larkin] is excited to soak up the creative environment and see what Auckland’s creative community has to offer.
“I think it’ll bring people together who will be friends, but might never have met if they hadn’t been at this festival. It’ll be cool to see what comes from that. What kind of relationships are formed,” Larkin says.
“If you buy a ticket for the night, you’re not just going to see one thing. You're going to experience a whole range of things.”
Performance artist Robin Gee will be returning to the festival again this year after being “blown away” by the last festival.
“The venue was small, but it resulted in creative relationships with people. That intimacy was good.”
Gee says that the five day duration provides enough time to build community and form relationships with other artists.
“You talk about your work and what it’s about. You find the commonalities, you find the things that people are doing differently and you cross-pollinate each other's work. It’s quite an exciting thing to be able to do.”
With almost 40 artists involved, and more than double the space, no one knows exactly how this year’s Experiment will operate, but that’s exactly how the Monster Valley duo like it.
“I like that whole ethos of it being a really open platform for people to try stuff out on,” Sheridan says.
“[It’s] about trying new collaborations and introducing the artists to crowds and that kind of thing.”