Thursday, April 07, 2005

The No.8 Wire - Issue 30

Gondwanaland Ministry of Culture
Artists' Information Bureau


An Electronic Alert for 765 of Wellington's Creative People
Tail-end Octo-numerical Interview: MARK O'BRIEN


Art, then, is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent.
- Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Transitoriness is everywhere plunging into a profound Being. And therefore all the forms of the here and now are not merely to be used in a time limited way, but so far as we can, instated within those superior significances in which we a purely terrestrial, deeply terrestrial, blissfully terrestrial consciousness, to instate what is here seen and touched within the wider, within the widest orbit -- that is what is required. Not within a Beyond, whose shadow darkens the earth, but within a whole, within the whole ... For our task is to stamp this provisional, perishing earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its being may rise again, "invisibly", in us. We are the bees of the Invisible. - Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Halewicz, Duinio Elegies

We have absolutely no reason to worry about lack of positive and affirmative philosophy. It's built in us. The phrasing, the sound of the music attest this fact. We are naturally endowed with it. You can believe all of us would have perished long ago if this were not so. As to community, the whole face of the globe is our community. You see, it is really easy for us to create. We are born with this feeling that just comes out no matter what conditions exist. Otherwise, how could our founding fathers have produced this music in the first place when they surely found themselves (as many of us do today) existing in hostile communities where there was everything to fear and damn few to trust. Any music which could grow and propagate itself as our music has, must have a hell of an affirmative belief inherent in it. - John Coltrane on the artist and society, from a letter to Don DeMichael, 2 June 1962.

The magic trick of human existence is snatching the eternal from the desperately fleeting. - Tennessee Williams



The first phase of Wellington's new arts centre will be opening soon at 61-69 Abel Smith Street, with programming, studio spaces, rehearsal rooms, and other resources available from May onward.

Contractors are finishing up the first stages of interior refit, one film production company has already relocated to the administrative spaces, the first twelve studio artists have been selected, and new creative projects and ideas are already buzzing about the place (along with a half dozen or more contractors and tradesmen).

"It's such an exciting step to be making," said Wellington Arts Advisor Eric Holowacz, who will be moving offices from the existing arts centre in the Oriental Bay Rotunda to the new two-building facility in Abel Smith Street. "There will be seven floors of space, with an emphasis on creative production and arts practice, as well as a diversity of ideas, disciplines, and developments in every corner."

Wellington City Council has spent the past two years talking to the creative community, building the policy and budget support, studying the local trends of cultural production, and trying to put the right pieces together for a bold new arts space.

"By my reckoning, it has come together nicely," remarked Holowacz, "but in a way that will place the focus on the creative people working and collaborating there and in our city. The sculptors, film-makers, writers, producers, guitarists, and arts managers will be the ones energising and shaping the centre, once the physical facility is fully refurbished and populated (expected in July 2005). Even after July, the approach will be to let new ideas come about organically, to shed under-utilised skin, and always adapt to cultural and creative needs ever-after."

An outline of some of the initial resources that will be offered follows. Those interested in any of these, as well as those seeking arts programmes and services in Wellington, should contact Holowacz on 385-1929 or

The new arts centre will contain 28 artist studio spaces on two floors, with rents beginning at $50/week (gst and utilities included). Deadline to apply for a studio is April 11, and the selection will be guided by an advisory panel. The emphasis of studios will be to support emerging and early-career artists, working in any medium or discipline. However, all applications and levels will be considered. Studios will be offered for up to two years. The Studio floors also include a wet/clean up area, common room, kitchen facility, and photographic darkroom.

The new arts centre will house a complex of meeting and workshops rooms, designed for community art courses, instruction, lectures, and group assemblies. Existing term courses and arts activities, currently offered at the Oriental Bay Rotunda location, will be transferred to the new centre in late April. Those interested in offering creative workshops or classes, from beginner to advanced specialist, should contact the new arts centre for details.

The new facility will also provide a home to small and large cultural organisations, event managers, and arts-based producers. Permanent administrative space, presently being assigned, ranges from one-room offices to larger office clusters or open plan suites. Information for prospective tenants is now available. For seasonal or variable-staffed organisations, the centre will also offer a separate project space with hot desks and work stations that can be booked for casual, short-term, and seasonal use.

The centre will also comprise a performance/rehearsal space with a seating capacity of 50-75, a studio-sized performance rehearsal space, storage for props and gear, and three sound-proofed music rooms. All of these will be hired hourly, and can be booked from mid April on.

The arts centre lobby will open to a dedicated exhibition space. This gallery will focus on the artists working within the centre, as well as exhibitions proposed by emerging curators, local and national visual arts organisations, and partner events. An application framework will be developed in late April, and expressions of interest for the May-July exhibitions can be made at any time.

After April 18, if you're in the neighbourhood, stop by Wellington's new arts centre. The facility is at 61-69 Abel Smith Street (former Board of Education buildings in back of Real Groovy Records), between Cuba and Victoria Streets.

For more information:
Eric Holowacz
Wellington Arts Centre



Wellington Arts Centre is in search of ten artists who can propose a mural design for the hoarding that will surround the Glover Park construction site. The commission for successful designs will be $1,000, and plywood and paints will be provided. Participating artists should be able to produce their murals off-site or in their own studios, but some workshop accommodation may be available at the new arts centre building in Abel Smith Street. There is no theme -- designs should reflect the work, ideas, styles, and aesthetics of the artist. Below are the basics for interested artists:

PROJECT: Glover Park Redevelopment Murals

DATES: Panels should be completed and ready-to-install by mid-June, and are expected to be in place for 6-9 months.

SIZE: Each mural surface is 4.8m x 1.8m (2 plywood panels); there will be ten or more surrounding the construction site.

COMMISSION: $1,000 per artist payable upon completed mural installation and invoice

MATERIALS: Paints and plywood will be provided

INSTALLATION SITE: Glover Park, Wellington (between Ghuznee and Garrett Streets)

THEME: There is no project theme; artists are free to propose any design; finished murals should be suitable for public display and in keeping with the design proposal.

APPLICATION PROCESS: To submit a proposal, artists should provide a letter expressing interest in the Glover Park Mural Project, their CV or complete contact details, a design sketch or mock-up of their intended mural (A3 or larger), and any notes or description they would like to include about the design. Photos, slides, and samples of other artistic work are also encouraged as support material.

All proposals will be reviewed and responded to between April and June 2005. Primary consideration will be given to artists living and working in the Te Aro neighbourhood, Cuba Street area, and within proximity to the Glover Park site.

CONTACT: For additional details, please contact Eric Holowacz, Wellington Arts Centre on 385-1929 or



Stagecraft Theatre Presents

"The Midnight Caller"
Written by Horton Foote
Directed by Leigh Cain

"The Midnight Caller" is a delightfully dislocated play about relationships, loss and loneliness but also about the importance of trust and redemption. Set in an isolated 1950s Southern American boarding house, four women cope with the addition of another female boarder, a newly divorced male and an alcoholic ex-fiancée.

"The Midnight Caller" is written by American dramatist Horton Foote. With an impressive career that spans six decades and numerous prestigious awards, Foote is most well known for his screenplay for "To Kill a Mocking Bird", "The Trip to Bountiful" and numerous other plays that highlight the triumph of the human spirit.

"I could think of a million other lives I'd rather lead, if I let myself, but this is my life so I try and make the best of it." - Miss Rowena

Dates: 12th - 16th April
Venue: Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington
Times: 8pm
Tickets: $18/15
Bookings: 04 3850 532

Be the first No.8 Wire reader to reply with a correct answer to the following question, and receive two complimentary tickets to the April 12 opening performance of The Midnight Caller at the Gryphon Theatre, courtesy of Stagecraft and Brianne Kerr Publicity...

Playwright Horton Foote's cousin, novelist and American Civil War historian Shelby Foote, was long-time friends with what other major Southern novelist and thinker? (author of The Moviegoer, Love in the Ruins, Lost in the Cosmos, and other books).



Next time you walk into City Gallery Wellington take your time - there's something new happening just before you come in the door!

SQUARE2 is a dedicated new site for moving image artworks located in the entrance of City Gallery Wellington. SQUARE2 - a pun on the site's location in the Civic Square, and the rows of 'square' monitors which display the works - will be an injection of energetic and interesting new work by local, national, and international video artists.

The first film up in the SQUARE2 programme is 'Rain', a hand-painted animation by Wellington filmmaker Lissa Mitchell that pays homage to pioneering New Zealand artist Len Lye. Mitchell describes her work as a "documentation of the world I live in - for example, 'Rain' is a representation of raindrops falling onto a glass surface that the viewer is looking up at."

26 March - 20 April
Lissa Mitchell, 'Rain', 1998

21 April - 15 May
Jae Hoon Lee, 'Leaves', 2004

16 May - 8 June
Lonnie Hutchinson, 'Red', 2002

9 June - 3 July
Sean Kerr 'Pop Dot' 2005


Arts Partners is a regular, fairly informal assembly of people involved in Wellington's creative industry. If you are an arts manager, company producer, artistic director, publicist, development director, or work for a local cultural organisation, these lunch meetings might be for you. Held about every month, they provide an easy opportunity for networking and the exchange of ideas. To request that you or your staff be added to the Arts partners list, contact the Standing Ovation office at 494 0266 or

The next Arts Partners gathering will be at 12.15pm on Thursday 21 April, at Square Affair (Ground Floor, Wellington Town Hall). Lunch will be provided, and potential Arts Partners should reply to this No.8 Wire if interested in attending. Here's what's on...

The World of Wearable Art team - Gabrielle Hervey, CEO and Heather Palmer, Company Director, will update Arts Partners on this year's show, the move from Nelson, background WOW and then answer questions. Lunch will be provided, and it should be a nice opportunity to network and share ideas.

Those interested in attending, or learning more about WOW, may also contact Jessica Garland in the Wellington City Council Special Events Office at



Arts Marketing!

Calling all artists - if you want to learn more about arts marketing, putting on your own event, business and tax issues, then read on. The Learning Connexion's Eva Yocum is delivering a weekend course at Inverlochy Art School on 7 and 8 May, which will cover these and other pertinent topics. Call (04) 939 2177 for more information or to book a place.

There's more at Inverlochy, offering Wellington's premier fine art and craft instruction. View their website today:



All original, all New Zealand made, all under one roof...

Calling all painters, sculptors, ceramic makers, glass workers, multi-media artists and any other people involved in creative pursuits, nationwide.

The Second New Zealand Affordable Art Show is coming soon. Registrations have opened for any artist wanting to exhibit and sell their work in the mid-July show. All artists are welcome to register regardless of whether they've exhibited before or not. Here's the catch - all work has to be priced below $5000.

You have to register by May 1 2005.

To do so go to and download a registration form or email / phone (04) 472 7652.



A kiss is a blessing, something we share with our loved ones, sometimes taken for granted, other times relished. We may be different combinations of lover, mother, sister, daughter, or granddaughter but we are all part of a family. Especially when they nag us, leave their wet towels on the bed or wake us in the night. We are kissed.
We are a collective of artists and writers collaborating to produce an exhibition of original artworks interpreting and incorporating poetry. The paintings have been created as not just illustrations of the poems. Instead the poetry has become an integral part of the paintings, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, exploring domesticity and community.
About the writers
Hinemoana Baker is a graduate of the Masters in Creative Writing at the IIML, Victoria University, Wellington. Her first book, 'matuhi | needle', was launched in October 2004. She is also a singer-songwriter - her debut album, 'puawai', was released at the same time as her book. She has written for stage and film, short stories and children's fiction as well as poetry.
Helen Heath has studied undergraduate writing at the IIML and Whitireia Community Polytechnic. Her interest in the domestic seems inevitable as she is the mother of two preschool children. She is the administrator for the New Zealand Poetry Society and the founder of Juicy Press.
About the painters
Kirsty Morison has a versatile background in design and after completing Textile Design at Wellington Polytechnic spent the first five years of her professional career designing interior furnishing fabrics, where she began to incorporate her love of New Zealand landscape and culture into her work. Currently Kirsty runs a small design business - Splice Design, which she operates out of Titahi Bay. During 2004 Kirsty has exhibited and sold work at Pataka - Porirua, Malo, Framework Gallery, WOW and Pots and Prints Nelson.
Daisy Wood trained in craft design at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in the early 90's, majoring in jewellery but eventually settling on painting as her medium of choice. Daisy's work has always focused on the human condition. Her recent focus has been small objects painted on a large scale as metaphors for states of the psyche. She has had a number of café shows and was a part of a group exhibition at One Eye gallery in 2001.
Kissed is open to the public from 16 April - 8 May 2005.
For further information, contact:
Helen Heath: mob 025 902 682.



2005 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement
Creative New Zealand calls for nominations
Readers, writers, other individuals, groups and organisations are invited to nominate their choice of an outstanding New Zealand writer in the genres of poetry, fiction and non-fiction for the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement 2005.
Worth $60,000 each, the annual Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement recognise writers who have made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature. Previous recipients are Janet Frame 2003, Maurice Gee 2004 (fiction); Hone Tuwhare 2003, Kevin Ireland 2004 (poetry); and Michael King 2003, Anne Salmond 2004 (non-fiction).
Fiction includes the categories of novel, short story, play, children's fiction and scriptwriting. For non-fiction, there is no restriction in the subject matter and the quality of work is the main determinant.
The annual Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement are administered by Creative New Zealand. They were established in 2003 as the result of additional funding to the literary sector, announced by the Government in May 2002.
Peter Biggs, Chair of Creative New Zealand, says this is a chance for people to nominate outstanding New Zealand poets, fiction writers and non-fiction writers whose work they admire.
"New Zealanders are well-known for their love of books and reading," Mr Biggs said. "By nominating writers worthy of this honour, they will be ensuring that their choice will be considered in the selection process."
The recipients of the 2005 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement will be announced at a special ceremony later in 2005.
Nominated writers must be New Zealand citizens or resident in New Zealand. They should have written a body of work that has received national acclaim and/or international recognition. Nominations close at 5pm, Friday 29 April 2005 and will be assessed by an expert literary panel. Its recommendations will be forwarded to the Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.

Nomination forms are available from any of Creative New Zealand's offices (Auckland Tel: 09-373 3066; Christchurch Tel: 03-366 2072; Wellington Tel: 04-473 0880). You can also download the nomination forms from the resources section of Creative New Zealand's website ( Alternatively, simply email your nominations to Creative New Zealand (, including a brief statement about why you have nominated the writer/s.



Now on View at Mezzo-space in Wellington's Main Library

"Into the Fire" is the title of a recent photographic documentary that reveals the efforts involved in the training of New Zealand fire-fighters. Wellington based photographer Liam Cullinane travelled with the Fire Service to Rotorua and Auckland and followed a group of trainees through their first house burn. His series reveals the physical and mental demands placed on those hoping to become professional fire-fighters.

Cullinane recently completed his studies in the Diploma of Photography at Massey University, Wellington. He approached the Council's Community Arts Office in November, when the Mezzo-space project was first being developed as a public exhibition hall for new and emerging visual artists.

"Liam's images tell a powerful story about how people become transformed, tested, tried, and trained," said Wellington Arts Advisor Eric Holowacz. "He answers the questions: what does a normal person have to go through to become a fire-fighter?"

"I have seen a number of documentaries on the fire service, which always seem to be about life at the fire brigade, or the heroic actions of saving people and buildings," said Cullinane, "but I wanted to concentrate on the trials and tribulations required to become a fire-fighter."

Into the fire was shot on 35mm film and has been printed to A0 size. The exhibition is on view now, and runs until Thursday 14 April. Mezzo-space is in the former BAM bookshop, next to Clarks Café, in the Wellington City Library.

Into the Fire was made possible by generous support from Techniche, Format Print, Scitronic, Tony Cullinane Electrical and Wellington City Council's Mezzo Space.

The artist can be contacted on or 0274769017. For information about Mezzo-space, or other arts programmes and services in Wellington, contact Eric Holowacz on 395-1929 or





A new production of Eve Ensler's insightful, award-winning play: Be energised, amused and inspired by the wonderfully rich exploration of female sexuality that are the Vagina Monologues.

"See it even if you haven't got one" (The Sunday Times, London).

To be performed by Dame Kate Harcourt, Lorae Parry and Fiona Collins. Directed by Kate Jason-Smith.

Don't miss out on this chance to see some of your favourite Kiwi women perform, with all proceeds going towards UNICEF's work to help girls in developing countries become 'strong women' in the future. Come and support a great cause and enjoy yourself at the same time!

This Season is proudly supported by Circa Theatre and NZAID, the Government's International Aid and Development Agency.

This 'Season' is part of UNICEF NZ's three-year 'Strong Women for Strong Women' fundraising and advocacy campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the gender discrimination and adverse cultural practices girls face in developing countries. The campaign highlights three areas where girls are most vulnerable: child protection (sexual exploitation, labour, trafficking, genital mutilation), education and HIV/AIDS.

The Vagina Monologues
Part of Season for Strong Women
Circa Theatre
11 April at 7:30pm
Tickets are $35 and can be booked on 801-7992


All the creative news that's fit to broadcast (for the week). Coming up this Sunday evening on Frontseat. You know you like to watch...

In 2000, the government set up the NZ Film Fund trust with a one-off $22 million injection. The Fund's purpose is to provide leveraging money to attract off-shore funds for next-level NZ feature films such as Whale Rider, Perfect Strangers, Perfect Creature, River Queen.The $22m is almost spent and the industry wants the government to re-capitalise the fund - only, the government thinks it already has. Julie Hill investigates the confusion.
Oliver Driver chats with Jeffrey Harris - one of New Zealand's leading living painters.Harris was one of the few NZ artists to have a successful career in Australia, he won the 2003 Wallace Award, and most recently was subject of a major retrospective by Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2004, and the lavishly illustrated companion book by Justin Paton. Book details: "Jeffrey Harris" - Justin Paton, 2005, Victoria University Press & Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Quick! See Jeffrey Harris: Selected paintings and works on paper at John Leech Gallery until 9th April (if you're in Auckland, that is).
How did an old cinema in the heart of cow country become one of New Zealand's most cutting-edge art galleries, attracting international exhibitions and becoming the home of Len Lye's legacy? Jeremy Hansen catches up with Govett-Brewster director Greg Burke as he prepares for his latest challenge, selling to the world at the Venice Biennale.
Father and daughter artists Law and Flora Kelly create their freakish dolls in a distinctly Tim Burton-esque mould, all skeletal features, crosses for eyes and punk-rock hair. See them on Frontseat or at Deluxe Cafe, Kent Tce, April 11-24.
PLUS: The winner of Rosemary McLeod's "Thrift to Fantasy", and find out how to win our copy of Justin Paton's glorious "Jeffrey Harris" book.

TV One, Sunday Nights (repeated 6.30am the following Sunday morning)



Exhibition by 25 Wellington Cartoonists on View at the Main Library: 14 - 29 April

Wellington City Council's Mezzo-space gallery will bring together over two dozen cartoon artists, and sixty examples of their work, for a closer look at this popular art. The public is invited to stop in and experience the local diversity of graphical styles, social statement, political commentary, and humour. An opening reception is planned for Thursday, 14 April, at 6pm.

"This is the most diverse cartoon exhibition ever held in New Zealand," said organiser Grant Buist, himself a well-known cartoonist for the Capital Times. "The artists are caricaturists, political cartoonists, strip cartoonists, webcomic creators, comic illustrators, fantasy artists and satirists," said Buist, noting that they publish their works in newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, student media, and online. The artists have selected their favourite works for the Mezzo-space exhibition, including a mixture of originals and prints.

"There are original pages from graphic novels, posters designed especially for the exhibition, and a reading table of material," explained Buist, adding that there will also be an exhibition catalogue of artist details.

Mezzo-space, a temporary exhibition hall for emerging and under-represented local artists, was established in 2004 in a vacant Council property and former BAM Bookstore. The location is a highly-visited area, just of Civic Square, and in the heart of Wellington.

"Comics and cartoon art are such a ubiquitous and popular part of our culture," said Eric Holowacz, Community Arts Co-ordinator for Wellington City Council. "In many ways, like other powerful forms of creative expression, cartoon art is able to tell us what our culture is below the whimsical or gilded surface, at more profound levels."

The exhibition is designed to complement several other upcoming comics events in Wellington's creative capital. The Armageddon Pulp Culture Expo takes over the Queen's Wharf Events Centre on 16 and 17 April, and the gallery at 91 Aro Street is offering a NZ Comics Weekend also on those days.

Artists participating in the Mezzo-space exhibition are Jarrod Baker, Edward Lynden Bell, Tim Bollinger, Greg Broadmore, Grant Buist, Rob Cruikshank, and Victoria Dreyer. Other cartoonists include Rosi Duthie, Ari Freeman, Brent Harpur, India Kalff, Robyn Kenealy, Martin Molloy, Simon Morse, Robbie Neilson, David Raw, Norman Levido, Grace Campbell Russell, Alexandra Saunders, Rachel Smythe, The Sprayah, stupidlikeafox, Carlos Wedde, Brent Willis, and Jem Yoshioka.

For additional details about this or other upcoming Mezzo-space exhibitions, contact Eric Holowacz on 385-1929 or For more information about the Wellington Comics Exhibition, contact Grant Buist on 475-8102 or, or see the following website



48hours - Furious Filmmaking Competition Monday, 4 April 2005, 3:24 pm STEP ASIDE MR PETER JACKSON (for two days, at least)

48HOURS is coming. Lock up your pets.

48HOURS - Furious Filmmaking is officially New Zealand's largest filmmaking challenge. It is open to anyone with a strong constitution. It is not for cowards.

Teams have just 48HOURS to create an entire short film from scratch - this means writing, shooting and editing - or die trying. And if that wasn't tough enough, teams don't even know what sort of film they'll be making. i.e. horror, religious, fairtyale, silent.

The competition started in 2003 with just 44 teams in Auckland competing. The following year it grew to 80 teams in Auckland and 45 teams in Wellington. This year the competition is truly a national event with Christchurch and Dunedin joining the chaos. Over 4000 people will be united to create NZ short films on the weekend of May 13-15.

Each year 48HOURS is responsible for film rental facilities running out of gear, actors cancelling commercials, celebrity friends being abused, broken bones, cheating, cops being called out, relationships imploding, moments of pure ecstasy, absolute exhaustion, extreme bonding, bribery, mountains of fun, production gear disappearing, freakouts, office spaces destroyed and more digital filmmaking genius than a 1000 monkeys can shake sticks at.

And this year the Grand National Winner will be voted by the public live on C4 Television - superstardom is just a click away. So... are you ready? Hurry up and sign up for one weekend you'll never forget. It just could be the start of something beautiful.

Jump to the site and register your team asap. Or you may miss out; 48HOURS Website

Hundreds of teams compete. Hundreds of thousands watch.



The Drag kings take Downstage Theatre!
dick 'n' mix - It takes Allsorts
Music, Comedy and Dance for anyone who is a Man, a Woman or thinking of becoming one...
We're delighted and thrilled to have been invited to perform at Downstage as part of the ODDFELLOWS Laugh Festival (how appropriate is that name!) in MAY.
WOW This is our BIG BREAK!
Many of you have supported us all the way through our journey of performance from the early days. We're thoroughly excited about putting our BEST FOOT FORWARD at Downstage and we really want you to share in that amazing experience with us.
The show we're embarking on is the culmination of four years of hard work and we've chosen the most 'favourite' numbers of ourselves and our audience goers. We're not about to give the whole ball game away but you can expect to see GRABBA, N'Ept, She's Having M'Baby, Surfers Paradise, Nini & The Moomus to name a mere'll be totally entertained and as always it'll be rude, raunchy and revealing!
Warning: Some Content Designed To Offend!
Make a night of it! Go for dinner/drinks first and then join us at Downstage to help us make this a hit! We really look forward to seeing you there J .
May 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th at 10.30pm (duration = 1 hour and a bit)
$15 (concession with ID) and $25
Information and Bookings at Downstage
04 801 6946



New Meisner Acting Class at The Film School in 2005
Level 1, 4-8 Oxford Tce, Newtown. $25 per class.

It takes Three Things To Become A Good Actor...Good Technique, Accurate Self Knowledge, Courage. The first I can pass on, the second I can be of guidance but the last is totally up to you.

Sandford Meisner's Acting Technique taught at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York, promotes individuality and confidence while giving students practical and effective tools to build character and performance. This 6 month once-a-week-only class will focus on the improvisational and instinctive exercises from the technique in the search for emotional truth and realistic behaviour. It is not only popular with those wanting to pursue acting seriously but also people interested in exploring their creativity and genuine, unpretentious and pragmatic self-development.

Warning: The technique and these classes are challenging and fun. Only call if you have courage and a sense of humour. Your commitment to the entire 6 month course is a must.

Contact Barbara Woods at or (027) 548 7053

Fees for the 6 month course:
Term 1 - 8 classes in April & May... $200 incl. gst (Only $25 per class)
Term 2 - 7 classes in June & July...$175 incl. gst (Only $25 per class)
Term 3 - 9 classes in Agust & September... $225 incl. gst (Only $25 per class)



Gutsy heartland verse with

celebrated, widely-published, South Islander, sportsman, writer dramatist and, above all, POET.

A former Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate, Turner is easy to listen to; he is not esoteric and he ignores the fads and fashions of poetry. His work captures the essence of southern New Zealand and its inhabitants. He knows backcountry New Zealand intimately, he writes about the domestic and he writes with a tough honesty.

Where and when:
Monday 11 April, 7.30pm
Poetry Café Porirua
The Dizzy Fish Café and Bar
1 Serlby Place, Porirua

Yes, this month we are back at the Fish with a classic Poetry Cafe. Bring your poems for the Open Mic (I know you must have lots of good stuff that needs a charged audience). Listen to the Stunned Mullets' favorite music, and then sit back and enjoy Brian Turner.

Entry is FREE. Try winning a bar tab or prize in
our popular Open Mic session this month.

Look forward to seeing you there,




Night of the Freak
Friday Night Late, April 22
At Pound
Fire performance on footpath at Dixon Street
Trapeze artist in main staircase
Strange sights and sounds everywhere

This latest Freak Fashion Show kicks off at 1am (early Saturday morning, April 23) with Kristelle Plimmer, Mistress of Ceremonies. The show includes
30 models
5 labels
Miss Demeanor
Erica Hackell Design
Minnie Dean
And other local talent

Entry by koha
To learn more, contact



Wearable Art challenge for secondary schools

Intermediate and secondary schools in Wellington will have the opportunity to create their very own version of the World of Wearable Arts show with the WOWQuest schools competition.

The team who created the highly successful Smokefree RockQuest is under licence from World of WearableArts (WOW) to produce the new competition that will involve schools in nine regions around the country. Schools will be given the opportunity to participate in a theatrical production of choreographed 10-minute mini-spectaculars, consisting of student-designed and constructed costumes and sets.

The entries will be judged by a panel at the Wellington region show in the Michael Fowler Centre on 13 June. Some of the winning garments will make it into the permanent collection on display in the WOW museum in Nelson.

"This competition develops students' skills in art, drama, music, dance and technology and gives them an opportunity to perform in a professional theatrical environment," says Smokefree WOWQuest Co-ordinator, Karen Matthews.

Wellington City Council is organising Wearable Art garment creation workshops for those schools that take up the challenge.

"With Wellington now the host of the awards show, we want to involve as many sectors of the community in the creativity and majesty of the unique WOW phenomenon. And hopefully we will see some of these students in the future as winners of the World of WearableArt show," says City Council Events Co-ordinator Jessica Garland.

Student creations will also be exhibited in a street parade planned to welcome the awards show to town in September.



ONE: Salsa Ball! Saturday 9 April

Cuban Nights Salsa Ball at The St James Jimmy Bar with live music from Calle Cuba. The full 6 members of Calle Cuba featuring from Havana, Guitar and vocals: Roberto Rodriguez. Playing their mix of Cuban Salsa and Cuban Son they are grunted to get you in the mood for dancing. Plus Guest DJs, a fantastic venue.

Includes : Tango Milonga from 6pm-8:30 pm and Tango Fire ticket draw.
Salsa lesson 8:30-9pm
DJs 9pm -10pm
Calle Cuba and DJs 10pm-12pm
Djs 12pm-1:30am

Be in to win : Two Tickets to Tango Show by Estampas Porteñas Tango Fire. One of the truly outstanding Tango Shows in the world today. 5th 6th May at the St James Theatre Wellington. If you make the pre ball tango Milonga you automatically go into the draw to win this fabulous prize courtesy of the promoters of Tango Fire. Wow! What a great prize! Drawn at 8:20pm, so be there and be in to win!

TWO: Clave Latina @Latinos Friday 22 April

Live at Latinos: The new Clave Latina bring you the spicy flavours of Mexican Salsa Moderna. Featuring from Acapulco Mexico, one of New Zealand's finest new Soneros, Carlos Navarette on vocals and guitar and on Congas they feature Adán Tijerina.

Carlos Navarette played professionally in the bars and resorts of Acapulco and we're lucky he's brought his rich knowledge of salsa and equally rich voice to Wellington.

Adán Tijerina has put his beats into bands such as Trinity Roots and Fat Freddy's Drop as well as Orquesta Salvaje in it's early years. Now he's putting that Latino sound into American Based DJ and Jazz performer DJ Recluse. He's also teamed up with Carlos and Clave Latina to lay down some terrific Salsa sounds in this new Six piece. Catch him while you can before he heads overseas for gigs in Europe and the Sates. These two outstanding musicians are ably backed by ex members of Orquesta Salvaje. Plus Hot Latin sounds from the always funky DJ Zebrita.

It all adds up to a great Night of Live Latin music and some awesome DJing. Cover is $10.





Welcome to Middle Earth. It's not long now before the Westpac St James Theatre is transformed into a magical slice of Middle Earth for The Hobbit -- a powerful live entertainment experience combining elements of drama, visual theatre and traditional puppetry...not to mention magic and wizardry.
Join Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield on an enthralling theatrical journey with music and sets that will take you from a Hobbit Hole in Bag End, through The Misty Mountains, Rivendell, Mirkwood, Lake Town and deep into the lair of Smaug, the Dragon of Lonely Mountain.

The season opens with a Wellington preview on Friday April 15th (7.30pm) and a Saturday preview matinee at 2.00pm before the World Premiere on Saturday 16th April at 7.30pm. See Tolkien's great work live on stage before it begins it's Australasian tour, and come under a new Hobbit spell.
Book tickets now at Ticketek
For more details on this enchanting show, cast your own spell here
or here

Be the fourth No.8 Wire reader to reply with a correct answer to the following Middle Earth riddle, and receive two complimentary tickets to the April 15 preview performance of The Hobbit at the St James Theatre in Wellington. Only one entry per reader, please, and all employees of Gondwanaland are ineligible.

Q: A box without hinges, key or lid
Yet golden treasure inside is hid



SEEyD Presents
the remedy syndrome
BATS Theatre
19-30 April at 7pm
Cost: $16/12 Bookings: 802 4175

'The absence of disease is the least sexy thing to sell in the universe.'

Created by Tim Spite, Danielle Mason, Pedro Ilgenfritz and Leo Gene Peters, "the remedy syndrome" is the new devised work from the critically acclaimed SEEyD Theatre Company.

"...and if your hairdresser messes up your hair you go to another hairdresser you don't become a hair dresser...and I think the mistake they often make in immunisation is that instead of 'I don't trust that person I'll go and talk to some one else' you try and become the expert... and you just can't really, genuinely, easily become the expert. So how do you make informed consent? I think informed consent's nonsense to be honest."

The story centres on Rebecca and Joe as they face the issue of vaccinating their child. Overwhelmed by all the information, they negotiate their own blueprint for parenting while their differences force them to question their compatibility.

The work grew from interviews with both scientific professionals and others from the community.

The SEEyD Theatre Company began with the creation of three stand-alone plays: "SEEyD" in the Wellington Fringe Festival 2000 followed by "inSalt" in 2001 and "SAnD" in 2002. All three works have won Most Original Production in the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for their respective years and "inSalt" also won Best Design. "the remedy syndrome" continues the companies desire to make politically involved work that interweaves design and narrative and most importantly humour.

For more information please contact Brianne Kerr
021 165 5784 or 04 380 1071



The New Cool
May - August 2005
The Dowse Art Museum

The New Cool are dancing to their own version of the commercial beat and reshaping the way we think about business.

The New Cool showcases the stories of 12 young New Zealand companies, celebrating creative business outside the 9 to 5. Defying the 'slacker' reputation of youth culture, companies (including Dawn Raid Entertainment, Huffer Clothing, Loop Aot(ear)roa Recordings, Disruptiv, Illicit, Sidhe Interactive, and Insidious Fix), have successfully transformed their creative passions into business dollars.

These inspirational stories are all about big ideas
and very small beginnings, the hard years, the timely successes, the concept of 'co-opitition' that comes from working with and for your mates, and the simple satisfaction of waking up each day and loving what
you do.

The New Cool is a highly interactive multi-media event that will be on show at The Dowse from late May - August 30, 2005.

Free Seminars: A series of free seminars will also run alongside the exhibition giving visitors the opportunity to meet the directors of some the The New Cool companies and learn how to develop a positive entrepreneurial attitude.

More info at:

Where: The Dowse Lower Hutt (04) 570 6500





Hello Happy people - there are changes afoot, big big big changes, who knows what might eventuate, but until then, here goes the week this week our happy week oh my . . .

Friday April 8 at 10pm
The Scribes of Ra
Who are the biggest beatest afrobeat orchestra? These are them.

Sunday April 10 at 8pm
Leila Adu
feat Jeff Henderson, Ricky Gooch and Tom Callwood
Finest songsmithery in the land with the land's finest musiciansmiths.
"Few debut artists are as daring as Leila Adu." - Rip It Up
"Hear this record once it stays stuck in your head like a dentist's filling." - Sunday Star Times

"A strange fusion of edgy soul and stuttering beats . . . and incomparable intensity that smoulders . . ." - Beat Magazine, Melbourne

thank you until next time fine friends.

corner Vivian and Tory Streets
PO Box 9069
New Zealand
+64 4 384 1965



Child's Eye View of a New World
By Andrew Clifford
>From the NZ Herald
30 March 2005

While bro'Town's satirical portrait of Polynesian life in New Zealand has provided some hilarious insights, Sima Urale's short film Te Tamaiti (The Children) brings some of the realities of modern Polynesian parenting into focus.

Samoa's first female director, Urale moved to Wellington with her family in 1974, when she was six. The sister of Bill Urale (aka rapper King Kapisi), she directed the videos for his first two singles, Subcranium Feeling and Reverse Resistance.

Cliff Curtis, who studied acting with Urale, has described her as "New Zealand's most exciting talent in film".

An impressive directorial debut, O Tamaiti (1996) was made on returning to New Zealand after studying film for three years in Australia and it has won eight international awards.

At only 15 minutes, it is a microcosm of cultural adaptation from a child's perspective. Filmed in moody black and white with dramatically spare use of sound, it focuses on 11-year-old Tino, who looks after his siblings while his parents juggle shiftwork.

Adults are seen from the waist down, rarely seen or speaking. Like Gregor Nicholas' slice-of-life short, Avondale Dogs, also showing in Mixed-Up Childhood, it foregrounds how children cope while parents deal with their own problems.

Poignant and sobering with a dreamy pace, O Tamaiti still captures the boisterous antics of young children as scene after scene snowballs into the next, changing tempo without missing a beat, seamlessly connecting tears and comic talcum powder disasters while moving from hospital to the bedroom to the beach to church.

She is now working on her first feature, Moana, which explores traditional and contemporary Polynesian stories in an urban context. The first draft of the script was completed at the University of Hawaii after she was awarded the inaugural $40,000 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency.

O Tamaiti, by Sima Urale in Mixed-Up Childhood
New Gallery, Auckland, to May 22



Hate Crimes
Now on at BATS
Season: Thursday 31 March - Saturday 9 April (no performances Sun/Mon)
Curtain Time: 8pm
Tickets: $16 full/$12 concession

Hate Crimes is a brilliant new comedy by Paul Rothwell, nominated for Outstanding New Playwright at the 2004 Chapman Tripp awards.
Gareth is a tragic loner outcast teen who attempts suicide and ends up a vegetable, starting a chain of events of increasing ludicrousness and violence amongst his family and friends as they struggle against the stereotypes that bind them together in the big family feud of society.
Hate Crimes is a misleadingly controversial take on race relations, gender politics, activism and the way society evolves, illustrating the biblical instruction "Before you stoop to take the speck out of your brother's eye, remove the log from your own."
See it before the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards take out an injunction against it.
"If anybody should be blamed, it's somebody else."
Presented by Bovine University, in association with Playmarket and The Bacchanals.
By Paul Rothwell
Produced by Louise Rae
Directed by David Lawrence
book now!

Be the second No.8 Wire reader to reply with a correct answer to the following question, and win a mystery prize. Only one entry per reader, please, and all employees of Gondwanaland are ineligible.

Q: Hate Crimes director, David Lawrence, is also producer/director for Wellington-based theatre troupe, The Bacchanals. What was their most recent Shakespearean production at BATS?





The Last Tour?

The April tour launches the last issue of "series 2" of A LOW HUM. I don't know what the future holds just yet for the magazine/CD/tour shenanigans, but I can tell you, it will be ace and you should hold your breath in anticipation.

I'm going out on a big one, and this tour will be perhaps the best value for money you will find anywhere except at an opportunity shop having a fire sale. This new issue of A LOW HUM comes with a 17(!) Track CD. No jokes, this is one hell of a compilation, my finest work to date. It's something to tell the grandkids about. I also wanted to finish up this round of touring with perhaps the three nicest bands in the country. Not only the nicest, but the future of indie pop as we know it.

Perhaps the worst kept low hum tour secret ever, this months lineup is superb...

Having exploded onto the NZ scene by touring their asses off and playing the blues like a mofo, Connan & The Mockasins have fans all round the country singing their praises. Their infectious blues jams mean your feet are never glued to the floor. Much has been said about Connan's mean guitar playing ability, playing Hendrix styles with his teeth and behind his back, and I guess I just said it again.

The Chandeliers Yehaa! I have been hounding these lads to come on tour with me for yonks, and with the complete band finally in the country, it is time. These guys are it. The band you'd steal money from your mother's purse to go and see. If this band doesn't make you want to dance with their infectious zombie surf music, well, you must be evil incarnate.

Rounding off the all Wellington all-star lineup is the brilliantly eclectic, how the hell do you describe them... Hot Swiss Mistress. When this band played their first show in Wellington, everybody breathed a sigh of relief. Something new and fresh, great songs, great band.

It's a mega tour to go with a mega compilation. Keeping it real, all over the country. Connan & The Mockasins, The Chandeliers & Hot Swiss Mistress

Thurs 14th April - Christchurch, Dux De Lux (Early show! Starts 8pm)
Sat 16th April - Dunedin, Arc Café
Wed 20th April, - New Plymouth, Basement
Thurs 21st April - Napier, O'Flahertys
Friday 22nd April - Palmerston North, Venue TBC
Saturday 23rd April - Wellington, Indigo Bar
Friday 29th April - Hamilton, Diggers Back Bar
Saturday 30th April - Auckland, The Dogs Bollix

After a recent jaunt to Sydney, I've found three cool Australian bands who have found their way onto this issue's CD. It also features six never before featured NZ bands, and new songs from artists I've already featured, but the songs I didn't get to use. Check it: Love of Diagrams, Architecture in Helsinki, Grand Prix, The Reduction Agents, Expatriate, Die! Die! Die!, Onanon, Ejector, Hiss Explosion, Skallander, Bachelorette, The Flower Orphans, The Chandeliers, Batrider, Superette and Operation Rolling Thunder. All shows only $10 including the magazine and 17 track compilation!

Can I get an Amen for Jack Daniels for making this past year indiealadocious and get a slight raise of the eyebrows to the good folk at The Package, The Fix, R1, Active, FleetFM and RDU for getting behind the cause.

For any info, please email



Milo's Wake
by Margery and Michael Forde
Circa Theatre
9th April - 7th May
Directed by Rachel More
Starring Ken Blackburn

It always seems such a terrible waste, people waitin' until you cark it before they have a good thing to say about ya. Milo O'Connor has decided to host his own wake - a night of humour, rhyme and song. But like a glass of Guinness...under the froth is the darkness.
Come and share the craic, the stories, the singing, the madness, the melancholy and the Guinness at Milo's Wake.

Be the third No.8 Wire reader to reply with a correct answer to the following question, and receive two complimentary tickets to the any performance of Milo's Wake at Circa Theatre. Only one entry per reader, please, and all employees of Gondwanaland are ineligible.

Q: Before setting out to create his own wake, Milo O'Connor is convinced that he can see what famous prognosticator in his X-ray?



The 2005 ODDFELLOWS NZ International Comedy Festival
would like to invite you to the Official Wellington Launch

Looking for the right comedian to lighten up your nights?

The World's First Speed Comedy Date
Thursday, 7 April
5.30pm sharp
Downstage Theatre

Come find your perfect comic match!

Learn more by writing or calling 027 626 8490



No Such Place
Te Whaea Theatre - National Dance and Drama School
11 Hutchinson Rd, Newton

20th- 24th April at 8pm
Cost: $25/18

Choreography by Lisa Densem
Live Music by Andrew Thomas & Bevan Smith
Performed by Alexa Wilson, Kristian Larsen, Lisa Densem, Megan Adams, Min Kyoung Lee, Solomon Holly-Massey
Set Design by James Moir
Light Design by Robrecht Ghesquiere
Tickets available through Ticketek and at the box-office

After living for six years in Berlin working with the acclaimed German dance company Sasha Waltz and Guests, the Wellington dancer and choreographer Lisa Densem has returned to New Zealand to create a new dance work, NO SUCH PLACE.

Lisa is known to dance audiences mainly through her work with Douglas Wright and Michael Parmenter, but hasn't performed in New Zealand since her move to Germany in 1999. Coming back to Wellington for this project is an opportunity for Lisa to share her many experiences working and touring in Europe with the NZ dance and theatre community.

NO SUCH PLACE, in which Lisa also performs, is being made in collaboration with five other NZ dancers: Alexa Wilson, Megan Adams, Kristian Larsen, Min Kyoung Lee, Solomon Holly-Massey. The Work explores human bodies/beings in relationship to non-place/in-between/super-modern city spaces like shopping malls, office-lobbies and airports. It also looks at the non-place/in-between/forgotten places in ourselves. The half-movements found between one thing and another. The fragmentary movements caught in a snapshot or a Polaroid.

In addition the work is interested in the uncontrolled organic nature of the body and in remembering its shared biological history with other living things. It endeavours to view the human body as a strange and alien thing inside an everyday city environment.

NO SUCH PLACE is the path of a body searching for itself, remembering itself. The path of a body without a home.

Original music for NO SUCH PLACE is being written by well known Wellington composers Andrew Thomas and Bevan Smith and will be performed live.



Until 26 June 2005

Visitors to the opening weekend of 'Bridget Riley: Painting and Preparatory Work 1961-2004' described the exhibition as "an optical feast of colour and movement" and "quite the most amazing exhibition I've seen in Wellington in the last four years".

Bridget Riley is Britain's leading abstract painter. Her visually-charged black and white paintings played a large part in shaping abstract painting in the 1960s, and over the four decades of her career she has consistently produced work which has entranced viewers and kept her at the forefront of contemporary painting.

Using a simple vocabulary of colours and abstract shapes, Riley produces paintings that shimmer and dance, generating sensations of light, movement and space, and creating emotional and physical experiences for viewers. The artist has been personally involved in the selection of works for the show, and many of her pivotal works are included.

$7 Admission
$5 Concession - (City Gallery Wellington Friends membership card, Senior Citizen card, Student ID, Community Services Card)
$20 Family Concession (2 Adults and 3 Children)
$14 Multi Visit Ticket (3 visits)
Children under 5 years are free. Booked education groups from primary and secondary schools are also free.





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To be added...

To submit contents, events, opportunities, or comments to contribute to...

Please send word to

Furthermore, send comments, questions, requests, etc to

Eric Vaughn Holowacz
Community Arts Co-ordinator
Wellington City Council / Wellington Arts Centre
P. O. Box 2199
Wellington, New Zealand



The Octo-numerical Query.
A batch of questions is presented.
A creative person answers.

What cities/towns have you lived in (or spent more than a few months in), beginning with your place of birth?
Dunedin, Tauranga, Paraparaumu,Hamilton,Rotorua,Nuku'alofa, Auckland
What are the earliest stories you remember hearing?
Sunday morning radio children's stories....sparky the train, et al
What music was present and still memorable from your youth/adolescence?
Early 80's ....talking heads, joy division, cure
For you as a creative person, who are three influential artists or thinkers?
Picasso , Ralph Steadman, Asterix the Gaul
What is your dream of happiness?
Living on the beach drawing cartoons
Who are your favourite or most admired figures from history?
Leonardo Da Vinci, Hunter S Thompson
Name three films that you consider profound, moving, or extraordinary.
Team America World Police, Cherry 2000, The Life of Brian
What was your first real job? second? third?
Economist, Promotions Manager, Cartoonist
If you had to eat the same meal every day, what would it be?
Name a few books that you couldn't put down, would read again, haunt you still.
Majic (the one about the puppet), Adrift (a guy who survived in a liferaft for six months)
What have you done, seen, experienced, or produced that was a disappointment to you?
Having a 8 x2m mural painted live at a conference destroyed by cleaners overnight, and having to paint another one to send to the delegate who'd bid thousands for it at the evening's charity auction.....
What was the most recent live performance you attended, and where was it presented?
NYE gig at the Hilton in Auckland
In one sentence, can you define art?
distilled imagination
What word of advice would you offer an aspiring artist in your field?
Marry a rich woman!
Where would you like to live, but have yet to?
What would you like to do, but have yet to?
Briefly describe a project you are planning for the future.
Trip to Valencia to suss out somewhere to stay during the next America's Cup
What one question would you add to this Query?
How much difference has technology made to your creative pursuits?

I've been drawing cartoons since shortly after I was born in Dunedin in 1961. I drew my way through school, creating the MONSTA cartoon character at high school.


>From the 26 March edition of the Toronto Star

Random acts of weirdness

The interventionists have landed in Toronto. Everyday life - they hope
- will never be the same If a stranger ever asks you to dance or offers
you candy, you may be part of the art...
by Murray Whyte

It's early, a Monday morning on a subway platform in February, the cold
outside rivalled only by the cool within: dozens of silent commuters,
minds turned inward, eyes cast blankly down, around or away - anywhere but directly at somebody else.

And then it happens. A beat rises, obliterating the white noise of the
train's rumble. Music spills from a boom box, and instantly, a small
troupe of dancers transforms the vacuum of morning rush hour into a
makeshift, downscale version of Electric Circus , tailored for the
bleary-eyed public transit set.

"We've called ourselves guerrilla dancers, dance terrorists, all those
things," laughs Paige Gratland, who organized the events every Monday
in February of last year. "But really, it's a kind of gift-giving. We
just want people to go about their day with the feeling that something
different happened today.... How often do you see people having fun on
the subway?"

It was a riff on an idea that Gratland and her collaborator, Day
Milman, had for Free Dance Lessons, where the pair would stage an
impromptu dance party on the street, inviting anyone nearby to join in.

The intention, Gratland says, is obvious. "People on the street don't
even want to look at each other, much less talk to each other," she
says. "And that's not how I want to live my life. We're trying to
create a public space where people can engage in a positive, meaningful way."

Gratland and Milman are not alone. You may have stumbled recently
across neatly wallpapered bus shelters, perhaps being attended by a
primly dressed man in a crinoline skirt, or a brightly coloured
concrete pillar or bicycle standard. Trees, at times, have worn
sweaters. Fire hydrants have been garlanded in cake icing. There have
been knitted cosies for bike locks and public phone receivers, dress-up
parties in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and a well-tended garden of ferns
growing from the toilets and urinals of Metro Hall. Tiny gold trophies
have been affixed around town, engraved with the slogan "Good For

And that's just Toronto. In New York recently, visitors to a McDonald's
washroom were greeted by a tuxedo-clad attendant. Last year, a
life-sized game of Pac-Man occupied city streets there. In London,
Scottish artist David Shrigley posted hand-scrawled signs, one on an
expanse of lawn ("Imagine the green is red"), and in front of the
Millennium Dome ("Ignore this building.") And the list goes on.

They are unannounced, unpredictable and ephemeral, occupying time and space in the public eye only for a brief moment before they disappear. Names have been put to them, from public intervention to performance art to installation to street theatre to happening. Some would consider them one and the same. Others would say labels don't matter. What does matter is that it's a creative act in The World Out There: The work doesn't find the audience, the audience finds it.

"I've done some of these kinds of projects in sanctified art spaces,
like galleries, and it's always less successful," says Jillian McDonald, a Canadian performance artist in Brooklyn. "People who come to those kinds of spaces know what to expect. And I really love the
delight that is possible for myself, as well as the audience when
you're outside of that, in public, because anything can happen."

McDonald has tested her theory in public space many times. In her Candy
for Strangers project, she handed out 500 sweets to subway passengers
in New York ("They were gone in about 40 minutes; I thought people
would be more suspicious," she said). Recently, McDonald, dressed in an
evening gown, strolled through a society soirée with a tray of
chocolates. When guests reached for one, she pulled away. "Sorry," she
told them. "I'm not sharing."

In the prescribed routines of social space, it was a mental snag:
Reactions ranged from the annoyed to the amused, but no one could be
indifferent, and that was exactly the point.

"So many of our interactions in public are so mundane, from getting
change to pushing past people on the subway," McDonald says. "It's when something becomes more than mundane that things get really

Tyler Clark Burke once paraded a troupe of papier-mâché zebras through
the west end to an art opening for the Borden Street collective.

"People's interactions with them on the street was amazing," she said
last year. "It made the opening an event."

Was it performance art? Who knows? But it was far from mundane. And
maybe that's enough.

"I'm in favour of a really broad definition of performance art," says
Dave Dyment, co-director of the Mercer Union art centre and board
member of Toronto's 7a*11d, an annual performance art festival. "It can
be something as simple as a little disruption, a bump in the everyday."

It is a wise strategy. As a form, it has ever been vaguely defined. Its
informal beginnings are rooted in the Futurists and Dadaists, early
20th century art movements. The notion took root in North America in
the 1930s with the composer John Cage, who was teaching at Black
Mountain College in North Carolina alongside such artists as Merce
Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg.

By the 1950s, the notion of art had spilled out of gallery settings,
morphing into vast, chaotic events called "happenings," orchestrated by
artists including Claes Oldenburg and Alan Kaprow. Around the same
time, artists such as Yves Klein were incorporating performance in
their work - which for Klein meant smearing naked women with blue paint and dragging them across a canvas, accompanied by music he composed.

The happenings, which coincided nicely with the hippie generation,
became a pop phenomenon, with decadent images of creative abandon the stuff of magazine features and coffee-table books.

But by the 1970s, around the time "performance art" was coined, the
spirit of discovery had been replaced by the intense, and the shocking.
In 1971, Chris Burden had himself shot in the arm with a .22 rifle in a
gallery space. Later, he crucified himself against the hood of a
Volkswagen. Vito Acconci would trail strangers for days at a time
through the city, documenting their every move. By the 80s, the form
had become notorious, capped off, perhaps, by Karen Finley, who gained notoriety in the alongside Robert Mapplethorpe for allegedly becoming intimate with yams in her performances.

`It's a culture jam just to smile at someone, or make eye contact.'

Dave Meslin, Toronto Public Space Committee

The stigma persisted. "Even five years ago, most people would hear the
term `performance art,' roll their eyes, and say, `Give me a break,'"
Dyment says. This may not have been a bad thing. Dyment allows it left
room for something new to grow..

"There are a generation of people now that don't have this reverence
for the term," Dyment says. "Now, there's a huge element of crossover
between performance art and prank, and I admire that, because artists
and activists are the kind of people who can elevate prank beyond a
juvenile gag."

Among them are interventionists like the Urban Beautification Brigade -
the purveyors of bus-shelter décor - and the Civic Beautification
Ensemble, who pretty up the bland bike standards and concrete pilings
with brightly coloured paint. The CBE also convened the recent
"Wintervention," which spawned the icing-laden fire hydrant, the tree
sweaters and the cosies.

Performance art, activism, call it what you will - the blurred lines
can be liberating, says Duncan Walker of the CBE.

"It's seen as something that crosses those boundaries, and I've always
been interested in that," he says. Calling the work "colour therapy,"
the CBE traipsed wilfully across those boundaries, making a definition
all the more unclear.

"We started out by spinning it as a way to promote civic involvement,
but in a tongue-in-cheek way," says Walker, who, along with fellow CBE
founders Redmond Wiesenberger and Jason Van Horne, offer Power Point
presentations in their performances, .

"But we wanted to give the impression that something's at work here. Is
it official or not? Are my tax dollars going to this? It starts a chain
of unanswerable questions, and that's really interesting."

As performance art has shifted its focus outward, its intentions have
shifted too. In 1999, Kym Pruesse, a professor at OCAD, published a
slim volume called Accidental Audience , a catalogue of artist
interventions for "off\site@toronto," a citywide project that included
the trophies and the ferns in the toilet.

"There is something about its surprise and anonymity that I respond
to," she wrote, "the feeling that the work is an unexpected gift."

Germaine Koh might not see her own public work as a gift, though humour is an element. Koh, an accomplished artist working in various media, is drawn increasingly to the public realm for her work.

"It's strange," she says. "I find myself being in the funny position of
being an artist who shows in galleries but, in the name of directness,
also losing interest in that, because it is so precious."

Last May, Koh and Jade Rude, another artist, met on a traffic island,
ringed with chains, near Union Station. Slipping off their outerwear to
reveal full boxing gear, including helmets and gloves, the pair sparred
for three rounds as traffic snarled around them, before simply dressing
and riding off on their bikes at the bell. The piece was called High
Noon .

In Watch , Koh installed herself in a slender window gallery, less than
a metre wide, on Queen St. W., impassively watching passers-by. Some
tried to engage her. Others seemed embarrassed or shocked. Some
laughed, some were outraged. Throughout, Koh sat quietly behind glass,
not responding.

In both cases, Koh gave no indication that she was mounting an art
project, nor had it been announced.

"I think I freaked some people out," she says. "But I'm not interested
in somebody coming to the work with the question `is this art?' The
more interesting question is simply, `What's going on here? Why is this
person in the storefront, and do I need to call the cops?' They jump to
the issues right away, rather than being able to push it aside into a
definition that's more comfortable."

Others take it a step further. "We didn't start this thing saying we
wanted to do a new kind of performance art," says Gratland. "It was
born out of frustration: `I'm tired of being on the street and not
being able to engage with people.' I wanted to bring energy and
vitality to my daily life on the street. That's what it's about, not
being performance artists."

It was also rooted in activism. "It's a democracy of choosing how you
want to live your life, and how you want to interact with people. If
you're not happy with something, put something forth to change it."

It's a choice that's still too rare, said Toronto Public Space
Committee coordinator Dave Meslin.

"Any time you do anything in public space that goes beyond this
monotonous habit of non-engagement is an intervention," he says. "It's
a culture jam just to smile at someone, or make eye contact."

Over the past several years, Meslin has helped organize subway parties,
where activists board a car during rush hour and decorate it with
streamers and balloons, blaring music and engaging riders in social
chit chat. He's also been involved with Reclaim the Streets, where a
activists occupy a block of the city in much the same way, completely
unannounced - until the police remove them, at least - and Critical
Mass, a hundreds-strong monthly bike ride that clots traffic all over
the city.

So is it art? "Anyone who chooses public space as a canvas is making an
artistic statement as well as a political one," Meslin says.

But the category matters less than the libertation from routine they
represent. "It should be an everyday, natural occurrence that we see
performance on the street," he says. "It should be as common as the
grass and the trees, that people feel free to turn the streets into an
art gallery."