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Q+A: Auckland Arts curator Amanda Wright

Thursday 10th March 2016

What to expect from Auckland Arts.


Headlined by Kendrick Lamar and The National, the inaugural Auckland City Limits takes place on Saturday March 19 – a date which is inching nearer and nearer. But as we’ve been reminded, it won’t just be about the music. Alongside the five stages and 40 artists is Auckland Arts – a series of local works from contemporary artists that will be showcased throughout Western Springs on the day.

We hit up Auckland Arts curator Amanda Wright, who’s also a founder of Splore, to find out how she sees it all working together and what we can expect from some of the art that'll be on display.


How do you see this art programme fitting into Auckland City Limits?

Increasingly there is a demand for audiences to have a more holistic experience at music festivals where they can engage in other media that compliments the music and adds another aspect to the culture of the event. Experiencing works by leading and emerging artists and designers outside of the gallery - and in new contexts - enables both artists and audience to connect in a more expansive space where barriers are broken down and works are seen from another perspective.

Local music festivals aren’t usually places where you expect to see such an emphasis on art. How do you go about choosing the type of artists that complement the audience or the roster of musicians that are on the bill? Is that even something you have to think about?

I haven't selected artworks to complement the music, but rather works that embellish the site and create another level of engagement for the audience. If the music was genre specific I may have been more mindful of the works I selected. However, the size and inter-generational audience that's expected at ACL has influenced the bold, playful and interactive projects that will be presented.

What’s your approach when putting together something like this? To me at least, people are probably prioritising the music. Do you have to think about including works that will have a broad appeal?

There will be something that will appeal to everyone. The short time frame of the event (12 hours with only three hours of darkness), and the potentially large crowd, certainly influenced the selection of works. I've sourced projects that are bold, interactive and intimate, and stand alone in the environment of the stadium, greenfields and lakeside environment. Some will be beacons, others found in transit, while some will be places of play and respite.

You’re also one of the founders of Splore. Do you see parallels between that festival and what the organisers of Auckland City Limits are looking to do?

ACL is an urban city festival that is including some similar elements that Splore have honed over a long period of time. The city environment, diversity of music styles, curated food options and shorter duration of the event ensures that ACL will have its own unique story and culture to be experienced by the audience.

Some will be beacons, others found in transit, while some will be places of play and respite.

What have you learned over the years as a director of Splore that's helped you in this role?

Other than a minefield of festival management skills and learnings, [it’s important to] build strong trusting relationships and networks and surround yourself with exceptional like-minded people. Go with your intuition, believe in yourself and be prepared for the goals posts to shift at any time.

Ngahere is a collaboration between artists Judy Darragh and Lisa Reihana, architect Sue Hillary and designer Robin Rawstorne. What can you tell us about the work itself?

Ngahere is a formal notion that is grounded in the sheer stature of trees and bush. It emphasises key realities of shielding and providing protection. Ngahere becomes a mark on the land and a focus point. A place to gather.

Among others, you’ve also tapped the Looks Good on Paper Collective to add an emphasis on interactivity. Why is that important at a festival like this?

Interactive projects provide audiences opportunities to touch, play, contribute and activate the works on show. Often these works require the audience to interact so the work comes to life and discloses the essence of what the artwork is about. Interactive projects give people a tactile experience that can be confronting or comforting with the notion of exploring and letting our inhibitions go.

Will you get to take a moment to check out any of the music at the festival? Is there anyone you’re dying to see?

Kendrick Lamar, Modest Mouse, Ladyhawke and Kamasi Washington. But there are a bunch I don’t know which I look forward to seeing as well.

Read more on Auckland Arts here.

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