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.

The 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.

The artistsTerrence 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 installation.

The Galleries In 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.

Transit Film Festival 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.

Intersect 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.

Website, 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 store front.

The Oblique Kiosk 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.

The Dates Project 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.

Support 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.

Media 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
e. oblique@physicsroom.org.nz
w. http://www.physicsroom.org.nz/oblique/

background / what's new / documentation / webworks / contact / links