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Erica Sklenars’ star is shining brightly. She tells Bruce Munro how her recent residency in China is impacting on her upcoming installation in the Wellington Lux Light Festival.
Beijing came out of the blue. Lux will be an illuminating journey in to the dark.
Erica Sklenars (31) is only back from China by a couple of weeks. Already she is needing to turn her attention outwards once more.
The Dunedin-based performance and video artist is about to head out of her adopted city again. This time to Wellington, where her new installation, Augmented Geometries, will be on show in the Lux Light Festival.
Raised in New Plymouth, Sklenars studied graphic design in Whanganui and then lived in Wellington for five years.
Erica Sklenars did the stage design, created the sculptures and projection mapped the images for this performance by United States DJ Tokimonsta, at the San Fran Bar, Wellington, 2015.
Her work is multimedia. In her solo endeavours, she makes herself the subject as a way to explore themes ranging from humour in contemporary feminism and social conventions, to pop culture and the absurdity of human existence.
In her collaborative work as Lady Lazer Light, she works with musicians and sound artists to create performance experiences. Her contribution involves projection-mapping of original or found video images, as well as lighting, set and costume design.
''I'm really interested in my artwork being accessible to a wide audience,'' Sklenars says.
''So, a lot of my work ends up being not in galleries but in other spaces. That is my favourite thing; seeing people interacting or enjoying a space differently.''
To earn a crust, she teaches an online graphic design course and is course administrator for the online YooBee School of Design, a part-time, mobile job that is well-suited to a passion for art that takes her far and wide.
Early in 2016, Sklenars moved to Dunedin.
''I've always really liked Dunedin,'' she says.
''I'd visited a few times doing visuals for bands. And I also had lots of friends who had moved here.
''It's a good city for artists. I can have a studio with enough space to make work. It's cheaper here and there's a really good community as well.''
But recognition of her talent keeps pulling her away.
Already this year, she has had a month-long art residency in Beijing. That opportunity was a follow-up to a three month residency in late 2015, when she was chosen for a Wellington-Asia artist exchange programme.
''Early this year, the Beijing gallery invited me back for a month, which was really nice.
''It was very inspiring; a great opportunity to create new work, as well as to see what work others are creating.''
It also left just enough time for her to participate in this month's Lux Light Festival.
The most recent festival, in 2015, attracted more than 85,000 people to the free nightly art displays.
This year's fortnight-long event, from May 12, will feature more than 30 light installations by nationally and internationally recognised artists, designers and architects. There will also be interactive activities and performances.
The captivating celebration of light, art, technology and design will transform Wellington's waterfront, laneways and public spaces.
Sklenars' work, Augmented Geometries, will be installed in one of the capital's laneways. Her installation is a collection of three-dimensional geometric forms that will be hung on the laneway wall and overlaid with projected video images, fragmenting and transforming the architecture.
She is excited by the prospect.
''It's a great opportunity to show my work in a different context, because often the installations I do are for performances.
''They are usually in a venue building and are just up for one night. So, having something up for a couple of weeks in a public space is really exciting.''
Screening images on to geometric forms is done with ''one video projector and some clever computer software'', allowing her to accurately map it all out.
Sklenars' New Plymouth-based father has built the wooden shapes for her. A sound component is being added by Dunedin sound artist Nikolai Sim.
Sklenars thinks she will have video content on the wall between the geometric shapes.
''But it [the video] will come and go. I'm still finalising that.''
The last minute touch-ups are a consequence of her experience-rich time in China.
''I had some cool collaborations there which I really loved, like projection-mapping on to other people's sculptures.
''It's definitely influenced my thinking about the video content [for Lux]. I came back very inspired.''