ODT Dunedin Arts Festival – ArteFact – How to behave in an art gallery


“It can be quite difficult to look at a work of art in a gallery. The first thing I like to do is make sure it’s a work of art.” says choreographer Ross McCormack, who used it as a starting point to create a site-specific dance/theatre work.

When you arrive in the Gallery, don’t assume everyone is as they first appear. The visiting hosts standing at reception, the security team hanging around in the background – are they gallery staff? Or dancers? In Artifactyou never know who might lead you on this playful journey, where they might take you, or what they might teach you about the visual arts.

Artifact received rave reviews with Theatreview writing how “the performers enjoyed themselves, mischievously disrupting the expected etiquette of the normally austere environment.” Stairs become surfaces where bodies melt headlong or tumble to melodramatic death.

McCormack designed Artifact be presented in different spaces – a much more difficult concept than working for the theater stage. Following its (digital) premiere at the Auckland War Memorial Museum earlier this year, the exhibition travels to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Nelson’s Suter Art Gallery – all very different spaces that require the work itself to change. and adapts to its environment. The other really special element is that the work is performed “en promenade”, which means that the audience follows the dancers through the space.

As one of Aotearoa’s most in-demand choreographers, McCormack masterfully fuses physical theater and comedy to reveal some irresistible secrets of the human experience. He knows that contemporary dance can sometimes be a little confusing, and his advice is to live with it. “Have fun being surprised and let the whole experience be an invigorating game that provides new exercise for your brain.”

This whimsical and surprisingly funny piece will show Dunedin’s public art gallery in a whole new light.


ODT Dunedin Arts Festival, Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Sat 22 & Sun 23 Oct at 5:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.


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