Funhouse concept features at Splore

By Rebecca Blithe


Fluxus Funhouse is a whimsical part of this weekend's Splore festival just outside Auckland at Tapapakanga Regional Park.

Elise Sterback, of Vibracorp, the company staging the Funhouse, says the idea evolved from the Fluxus movement of the 1960s in which artists coaxed audiences to become part of the artwork.

"It's not like standing in the crowd and saying: 'Look at that'," says Miss Sterback. "I always want to do some thing completely different that people have never experienced; something a bit mysterious. Something that startles people."

A shy person socially, Miss Sterback says the funhouse's 20-minute interactive "ride" pushes beyond the awkward, polite small talk and helps participants meet new people in new ways. For instance Play-doh and bubbles offer leeway for interpretation - and a childlike sense of play.

She says last year's smaller scale version was a hit. "We were quite prepared for people to throw their toys out of the cot and say, 'I'm not doing that'."

Instead, one person who'd seemed quiet broke into a monologue from Rocky Horror, a fiasco with paper planes erupted, and grown men got exuberantly obsessive with bubbles.

"One girl told me she'd arrived late and all of a sudden this guy came up to her, hugged her and said, 'I hate yams'.

"Secretly I feel kind of gleeful when I hear people say afterwards they wish they'd known [about the event]."

Fluxus Funhouse is scheduled for Friday at 5pm, 5.30pm and 6pm in the Living Lounge, followed by a whole new experience on Saturday at 10pm in a new, temporary addition to Splore, the Portavilion.

Participants are sent text instructions for fanciful activities enhanced by visuals and sounds, choreographed by 14 Auckland artists.

A collaboration of street artists, Cut Collective, London-based designer Emma Underhill, and Paris-based architect Jasper Middleton, is creating the Portavilion - big enough to hold large artworks and events like the Funhouse.

Cut Collective artist Gary Yong says his group has painted artworks on hundreds of wooden pallets for the area.

"It's allowed us to collaborate with artists from different fields. Our initial idea sort of related to theirs, so we decided to join forces.

"Emma's done a lot of Portavilions overseas but they usually take six months to two years to do. This one's been three months so it's sort of uncharted territory for her. We have to build it in three days."

Inspired by previous use of the pallets - transporting goods and advertising - the artists have designed images taken from old signs, animations and familiar cartoons.

They have also designed cushion covers for chill-out zones in the Portavilion, which will be a relaxation space when it's not being used for workshops and activities like yoga classes and art exhibitions, during the three-day Splore festival.

WHAT IS SPLORE?

Splore is a somewhat different three-day music, art and performance festival. The full weekend Splore is held every two years, alternating with Splore City. The theme for this year's Splore is "The Island of Hooha" and the park will transform into a "quasi-mystical place" full of "wild beasties and nymphs".

"Bring costumery that enhances a feeling of anticipation for ribald good times and a personal bubbling up of exotica," says the bumph.

WHEN Fri-Sun, February 17-19

WHERE Tapapakanga Regional Park

HOW MUCH Whole weekend with unreserved camp spot $220; youth $120. All reserved campsites are sold out. Tickets www.1-night.co.nz/splore

WEB www.splore.net

- THE AUCKLANDER

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