Artists turn their gaze to Brighton

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 08:51 29/11/2013
New Brighton gratitude protest
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GIVING THANKS: As part of the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa festival, a Gratitude Protest was held in New Brighton led by Auckland-based performance artist Mark Harvey, right, with participation by Phil Dadson, waving on the left.

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Artists from throughout New Zealand have declared New Brighton a Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa (Teza) this week.

Involving several community groups, until Monday the seaside eastern suburb will see such activities as a bicycle choir led by arts laureate Phil Dadson, street performances, Ngai Tahu flag and food exchange gatherings and "sound carrying light beams" crossing the New Brighton skyline.

Earlier this week, Auckland- based performance artist Mark Harvey led a group of participants in a Gratitude Protest which included chanting "thank-you" to the New Brighton Library.

Wellington-based curators Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram, of national public art producers Letting Space, said Teza was about exploring new ways of working together for common good.

Letting Space seeks to transform the relationship between artists, the public and their environments to enable social change. "It's quite an audacious project. It's about responding to a global need. Since the quakes, Christchurch has been a hotbed of resourcefulness and innovative projects that explore different forms of exchange," Amery said.

"We want to recognise this strength in Christchurch and highlight how vital such experimentation is to the future as the economic systems we currently use show signs they are past their use-by date."

He described special economic zones as a common late-capitalist mechanism that allow multinational companies to operate globally and extract resources from a region at a local community's expense.

"We want to turn the idea of such a zone on its head and explore what a more positive model for an economic zone might look like and how a group of artists from many different places might visit and exchange with communities and tangata whenua for the local good."

In partnership with Renew Brighton and the Positive Directions Trust, the group are occupying the Creative Quarter at 101 New Brighton Mall and are hosting a variety of workshops and discussions.

As part of the project photographic artists David Cook and Tim J. Velling are working with 60 students from Freeville School.

The students are taking photographs and telling stories about their school before it is merged and "the space becomes empty".

Tomorrow, between 10.30am- 11.30am, these children will unveil a mural in New Brighton Mall.

The project has been two years in development and has funding support from Creative New Zealand and the Canterbury Community Trust. Other funders and supporters include collective decision-making digital platform Loomio, Massey University, Wintec, University of Canterbury, Ngai Tahu, Ministry of Awesome and The Physics Room.

See lettingspace.org.nz

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