The Christchurch Hip Hop Summit 2022 – The DTR Graffiti Showcase

The Christchurch Hip Hop Summit kicked off for 2022 with a day of painting and tunes as the oldest of the four elements took centre stage. Organised and curated by Ikarus of the DTR Crew, the Summit’s Graffiti Jam featured two productions; one by a collection of local artists at the re-activated Dance-O-Mat site on Manchester Street and the other, a collaboration between the DTR and FILTH crews, along Spark Laneway between Hereford Street and Cathedral Square. While the two jams had starkly different atmospheres; DJs played music as crowds gathered at the Dance-O-Mat, the DTR and FILTH jam more low-key, they both celebrated the traditions of graffiti and resulted in impressive productions.

Making a Place of Play

Gapfiller’s Dance-O-Mat, a relocatable urban dance floor, is one of the city’s most enduring post-quake place-making icons – a status cemented when the now King and Queen Consort, Charles and Camilla, cut some shapes on the floor when they visited the city in 2012. When the Dance-O-Mat needed a new home, GapFiller found the vacant space next to Paddy McNaughton’s Irish Pub on Manchester Street. The process of installing the dance floor was undertaken and soon, the washing machine discotheque was sending rhythms out across the city and limbs were moving (some more elegantly than others).

The Dance-O-Mat’s new setting was a typical Ōtautahi lot, vacant but for rocky shingle, weeds and bright graffiti painted on the surrounding walls. Now with support from GapFiller, Resene Paints, the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit and a range of artists, the paint covered walls have been given a facelift to match the Dance-O-Mat’s activation. The first addition was a simple black and white declaration of the site as a Gapfiller ‘Place of Play’ – part of the urban play initiative. The mural, completed by Nick Lowry and Bols, simply deploys the graphic Place of Play logo, designed by Ariki Creative, running along the upper section of the Northern wall, boldly declaring the site as a destination. The painting spanning 18 metres in length and starting more than three metres up the wall, was completed in just two days, and set the tone for further activations.

If the Place of Play mural served a practical purpose, the next wave of creative work was brighter and exemplified the Place of Play intentions. On the first weekend of October, the 2022 Christchurch Hip Hop Summit kicked off with graffiti jams – including at the Dance-O-Mat site, where a selection of local graffiti artists refreshed the walls with characters and pieces. The activity, bolstered by DJs playing music, drew sizeable crowds (and dancers), making the most of the (almost) summery weather. Across from the graffiti artists, members of Slap City decorated the dedicated paste-up wall (which already featured a bold ‘Dance-O-Mat’ painting in red and yellow by teethlikescrewdrivers) with paper-based additions big, small and everywhere in between.

The flurry of activity was a perfect introduction for a site that now celebrates various creative outlets, a new must-see destination in the heart of Ōtautahi. The Dance-O-Mat is back and it looks fantastic!

One More, More The Show

More The Show returns this week with One More, More the Show – once again celebrating local wahine artists and raising funds for The Period Place. One More, More the Show will fill the walls of Clubhouse Creative on Southwark Street with art by a wide range of Ōtautahi creatives, painters, illustrators, makers and more. As organiser Lydia Thomas explains, More the Show came from the lack of wahine art at local art shows: “I haven’t been in Ōtautahi long, but I can already see and know of extremely talented females and I wanted to create someone just for them.” The More shows are short and sweet with a playful energy, intended to function like a gig or a festival (music will be supplied by talented local female DJs), a limited window to experience the event. This time, Thomas has a selection of almost 30 artists, featuring returning creatives like Robbi Carvalho, Kyla K and Harriet Murray, but also new contributors, including Emma Turner and Lily Wenmoth. Whereas previous shows have allowed artists to present multiple works, this show is more focused, with each artist contributing just one work, giving each a more unique value. The show will also donate a minimum of 10% of every sale to The Period Place, whose mission is ensure every person with a period in Aotearoa can have access to period education and products. As Thomas declares: “People should come to see the show because the talent of wahine artists in Ōtautahi is out of the gate – we are so lucky be able to head out and enjoy it, to drink wine, eat cake and celebrate!”

One More, More the Show opens Thursday 6th October, 5:30pm – 7:30pm at ClubHouse Creative, Southwark Street. Drinks and food will be supplied by from Buzz Club, Good Sh*t Soda, Young & Co Wines and Full Time Tart.

Auspicious Victory – Hostile Body @ XCHC

I became aware of Hostile Body, an exhibition of digital art produced under the identity of Auspicious Victory, through somewhat cryptic social media buzz. I had recently been grappling with the rising profile of digital art through the lens of crypto currency, skeptical of the way digital art was being represented as PFPs and 8-Bit illustrations. But Hostile Body was presenting a much more considered, conceptual and interesting approach, layered in intense visuals and tied to reality in haunting way, it suggested the best of digital practice. With the exhibition opening approaching, I was fortunate enough to talk to Auspicious Victory and find out more about the concept…

How would you describe Auspicious Victory – is it an identity, an alias, is it something more conceptual? How has Auspicious Victory evolved over time?

Gender neutral and identity fluid (they/them), Auspicious Victory can be anyone or no-one. Auspicious Victory comes from Amarapura “The house of the immortals” and preaches simulation theory as fact. Part designer, marketer, performance artist, techno prophet, visual artist, and activist all in one. Auspicious Victory’s true identity is irrelevant as they will tell you. Auspicious Victory will eventually be “guided” by a collective of individuals who wish to support their cause, this format is a DAO, a De-centralised Autonomous Organisation, breaking new ground, with the crypto world coming together with the art world to create the first de-centralised artist.

Hostile Body is described as a “multi-sensory” exhibition of various digital mediums, how long has Auspicious Victory been exploring digital art and what approaches are most interesting to them?

Auspicious Victory in this simulation was given their first PC in 1983. They learned to code in BASIC, their first program was an animation and they have created digital art ever since. In the exhibition, there is a piece of artwork created in 1999 that has never been seen before. 

Auspicious Victory responds to stimuli of all kinds and likes to collaborate with other artists. Working this way brings new perspectives and builds community along the way. The approach they are currently taking is to de-centralise as much as possible.

Deep State IX 2 E, 2021, stretched canvas, 1200mm x 1700mm

The rising profile of digital art has been tied to the cryptocurrency movement, but that unfairly obscures the longer histories of digital creativity, what does Auspicious Victory see as the biggest benefits of digital art making?

Yes, crypto is responsible for a lot of things but digital art is not one of them. Digital art was made before Auspicious Victory even entered this simulation. Digital art is anything shown on a digital screen. It’s that simple. Whatever screen you are looking at, a media professional or artist created it. There is so much media to choose from at present that we don’t even notice art when we see it.

Wow, the benefits… there are so many, where do you start? The benefits for oneself are instant gratification but this can also become a distraction. Digital art is easily shared and can be much more affordable than traditional fine art. Also you can weave deep messages and interactive experiences into digital art. You can express yourself in ways previously unimaginable. It’s corny but true, with digital art the only limit is your imagination. Digital tools are much more accessible, soon to be a commodity/service and allow anyone using a digital device with a screen to make art. 

Hostile Body presents the experiences and extremes of chronic and mental illness, has it been conceived as a very personal story or a more universal exploration? What threads have come out most clearly and how have they been explored through the digital mediums deployed? 

Auspicious Victory’s experience in this simulation is not exclusively unique. The themes are universal. Auspicious Victory encountered trauma on their journey, from this they sensed emotional and mental injuries, the data could be called pain.

In many of the pieces, the floating objects represent an aspect of an extreme emotional state, both low and high. These floating objects are held in stasis effectively freezing the emotion in time to observe and interpret.

The mood is largely determined by the colour palette; sometimes warm, bright and vivid colours suggest the high of a hypo-manic episode and conversely the darker more turbulent palettes allude to darker states.

The abundance of colour and texture in these works are a facsimile for mental over-stimulation. 

The landscape quietly or violently makes its presence felt in the background, reminding the viewer and the artist that storms are always brewing. But as all things, these too shall pass.

Deep State VIII U, 2021, stretched canvas, 1200mm x 1500mm

The exhibition is to be staged at the XCHC, how much of a challenge was ensuring the venue could successfully host the range of art? How vital was it that the venue was right?

No challenge at all. Auspicious Victory is not alone, there is a team of believers investing their time into similar projects and crossing paths with those talented people has been serendipitous and has led to creative and practical solutions. Auspicious Victory is grateful and acknowledges those who have gracefully stepped into the fray.

The venue is essential as most galleries wouldn’t do what Auspicious Victory want’s to do. XCHC is the perfect venue for this show. It’s a flexible white box. It’s intimate. It’s authentic and connected to a vibrant creative community. And its not afraid to try something new.

 Hostile Body opens 9th September 2022 at The XCHC, 376 Wilsons Road. Details and limited tickets are available here: https://events.humanitix.com/hostile-body-exhibition?accesscode=IBELIEVE

For more information about Hostile Body, visit the exhibition website: www.hostilebody.art

Benjamin Work and Brendan Kitto – MOTUTAPU @ Te Uru – Waitakere Contemporary Gallery

MOTUTAPU, a collaborative project by Tāmaki Makaurau artists Benjamin Work and Brendan Kitto, is the conclusion of a four-year exploration of the shared histories of Motutapu, or sacred islands, throughout Moana Oceania, including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour in Tāmaki. These sanctuary spaces, gateways for voyagers departing from and arriving at the mainlands, were where the lifting of tapu and making things noa (free from the restrictions of tapu) occurred, connecting navigators with their ancestors and kainga. For the artists, who travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and engaged with key knowledge holders, the journey became deeply personal, connecting to their own genealogy, centering on reconnection and reconciliation, joining communities across Moana Oceania through time and space.

The exhibition, built around the juxtaposition of Work’s evocative paintings (including the hanging Piha Passage and free-standing Mata Pā screens) and Kitto’s photographs of Motutapu ki Tāmaki Makaurau, Motutapu ki Tongatapu and Motutapu ki Raraotonga, is currently on show at Te Uru – Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (11 June – 11 September 2022), and includes the launch of an accompanying publication MOTUTAPU.

All photos by Sam Hartnett.

Showtime!

Vacation from Reality – Pener, Fiksate Gallery, 15th July, 2022

Polish artist Pener’s mid-Winter residency at Fiksate culminated with a stunning show at the Sydenham Gallery. Despite the cold and wet weather, Vacation from Reality was irresistable, with the artist’s striking abstract paintings spilling subtly onto the walls behind, extending the impact of the bold lines, colours and forms. The combination of bright and muted colours, along with the dynamic compositions wowed the crowd, who were treated to the sublime work of an international visitor with a refined practice…

Do you have a show coming up? Let us know at hello@watchthisspace.org.nz!

Exploring Aerosol – A Masterclass Workshop with Wongi Wilson

Back in June, we were lucky enough to work with local aerosol legend Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson, Toi Ōtautahi and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to deliver the free masterclass workshop Exploring Aerosol. Hosted at the iconic CoCA on Gloucester Street, where the white-walled upper gallery provided a stunning setting, attendees were given the chance to learn from Wongi’s mass of accumulated knowledge. Learning about the building blocks of graffiti as a gateway to can control, from the simple tag to the more developed three-dimensional effects of a larger piece, guests were let loose to explore techniques as Wongi presented his insights. The afternoon session dived into Wongi’s approach realism, from landscapes to his mastery of hands, the crowd in silent appreciation of how his images came together.

The free workshop was one of the first of a series of classes targeting practicing artists and providing the chance to expand technical skills. In developing Exploring Aerosol, the goal was to enable artists to develop aerosol techniques while also exploring how the spray can might be used for a variety of forms and styles, elevating the tool to a broader perception. With an energetic response (with limited spaces, not every applicant was able to attend), we hope this was just the first of future workshops that might explore the toolbox of urban art…

We want to hear from more people interested in these types of workshops and initiatives – let us know in the comments or via email to hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

Exploring Aerosol: A Masterclass Workshop with Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson

Watch This Space, in partnership with Toi Ōtautahi and with support from Te Manatū Taonga – The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, are excited to present Exploring Aerosol, a masterclass workshop hosted by renowned artist Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson!

Part of a larger series of workshops aimed at artistic up-skilling and targeting both practicing and emerging creatives, Exploring Aerosol will present the potentials of spray paint as a medium for the streets and the studio. Aerosol has long been established as the iconic tool of graffiti and urban art, allowing a practicality and a particular aesthetic that means, despite growing environmental concerns and increasingly diverse and multi-faceted approaches, this status endures within the culture and public perceptions. Importantly, aerosol has been harnessed by artists as both for painting walls as well as a studio tool.

Exploring Aerosol will be held at the beautiful Woolshed at Te Ana Marina in Lyttelton and will be hosted by one of Ōtautahi and Aotearoa’s most celebrated and skilled aerosol artists, Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson. Wongi, a member of the famed DTR Crew, is highly respected for his ability with a can, from clean, crisp, poppy effects to amazing realism on huge scales. In this workshop, Wongi will delve into the backbone of aerosol as a tool for graffiti and then into a diverse range of techniques.

Exploring Aerosol will offer a hands-on experience led by one of our most experienced urban artists – this is not to be missed!

With limited spaces available, places will be allocated via an application process, with application forms available from hello@watchthisspace.org.nz or via the Toi Ōtautahi website. Applications open Monday, 23rd May, and must be received by Friday, 3rd June. Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz with any enquiries.

Exploring Aerosol – A Masterclass Workshop, 10:30am – 3:30pm, Saturday, June 18th, 2022 at The Woolshed, Te Ana Marina, Lyttelton.

Showtime!

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland proved the place to be on April 8th, with two exhibition openings drawing crowds. We happened to be around and managed to catch both The Main Line, a collaboration between Ōtautahi artist Ghostcat and 27 Aotearoa graffiti artists that served as a love letter to the iconic Spacerunner train carriage, and Shiny Things, a collaboration between Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan (known to many as Misery) that created a beguiling world inside The Mercury Plaza gallery space on Cross Street (just behind the famed Karangahape Road). While very different shows, one grounded in history, the other mythology, both were well worth the attention…

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The Main Line – Ghostcat x Aotearoa Graffiti Artists, Limn Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 8th April, 2022

Inside Ponsonby Road’s Limn Gallery, a two metre long replica of a Spacerunner, one of New Zealand’s, and New Zealand graffiti’s most iconic train carriages, takes centre stage. Carefully laid out on top and along the walls either side are even smaller versions of the carriages, rusted and covered in tiny recreations of the graffiti that would fly by when the Spacerunners were still in circulation around Aotearoa. The tiny carriages were built by Ghostcat in his typically detailed style, before artists spanning the country and generations, contributed designs, from Opto, Vents, Lurq, Morpork and Phat 1 to Wayst, Togo, Meep, Vesil and Siar267…

Shiny Things – Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan, The Mercury Plaza, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, 8th April, 2022

The Mercury Plaza, home to a collective of creatives, where visitors can find food, art, clothing and, if they fancy it, get a tattoo. On April 8th, The Mercury Plaza welcomed guests to the opening of Shiny Things, a collaborative world building by Hannah Maurice and Tanja McMillan (Misery); an exploration of the sacred female and the conscious/unconscious that employs a range of approaches to engage the senses. From McMillan’s paintings to installations that seemingly serve as shrines, an air of ceremony palpable. Opening night was busy, with a moving karakia adding to the resonance of the works that reveled in dance, ritual, myth and dreams…

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Do you have a show coming up and want to let us know? Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz and fill us in with the details!

Watch This Space presents the Flare Street Art Festival Artist Panel

Watch This Space, in partnership with the Flare Street Art Festival, was proud to present the first ever Flare Street Art Festival Artist Panel; a chance to sit down in conversation with five of the headline artists from the festival and reflect on their work in Christchurch, their careers, their influences and aspirations. The conversation, hosted at 12 Bar on March 11th, 2022, provided some great insights into contemporary urban art in Aotearoa, it’s evolution and the motivations of the artists who are transforming city walls brick by brick. With a mix of local artists (Ikarus and Meep) and visiting creatives (Kell Sunshine, Koryu and Swiftmantis), there was a sense of diversity among the panel and experiences spanning many years and settings, making it a great deep dive into graffiti, street art, muralism and more. Check out the full discussion below…

Thank you to Ikarus, Kell Sunshine, Meep, Koryu and Swiftmantis for their participation, the support from Selina Faimalo, Dcypher and the Flare crew, Matt, Kendra and the team at 12 Bar, the WORD Festival for the live streaming gear and to Corban Tupou for the technical expertise, we could not have done without you!