Shuffling about in the dark

Motoko Kikkawa's installation in front of the First Church from the Nocturnal Projections and...
Motoko Kikkawa's installation in front of the First Church from the Nocturnal Projections and Other Small Happenings Festival in 2017. Photo: Supplied
There's something magical about shuffling about in the winter darkness and coming across a strange little "interruption".

That's what the Nocturnal Projections and Other Small Happenings Festival in 2017 was all about. For two weeks, artworks were tucked away in various locations around the city, waiting to be stumbled upon by whoever happened to be about.

Now, two years later, it's happening again. Nocturnal Projections 2019 builds on the same theme: Public artworks, intended to be appreciated after dark, that usually play with light or sound in some way.

"The intention is really just to have over the winter months a whole lot of things happening," explained organiser and festival creator Cath Cocker.

"It's also to bring contemporary art into the public focus in a non-aggressive way, but that's beneficial to everybody because I think contemporary art gets hidden behind gallery walls.

"So I guess it's for the general public - not just for the people that go to galleries or go to gigs. So that's part of the intention."

In 2017, I found the environment the works were displayed in shaped the process of appreciating them. The crisp night air and the frosty smells all became part of the works, and I fondly remember standing in the dark with Motoko Kikkawa's illuminated drawings in front and First Church towering above.

If they were in a gallery, I would remember them differently, or maybe not at all. Nocturnal Projections is "not a spectacle", it's more introspective. It's for people who might not go to art galleries, or people who, like me, prefer to appreciate art alone, curating their own soundtrack through headphones.

The event is named after Nocturnal Projections, a band in the '80s, and this year the frontman Peter Jefferies will be involved, curating an exhibition of gig posters from the era. Many of the opening events will also include musical performances from boundary-pushing artists such as Jeremy Mayall and Chris Wilson.

"All the spaces that I've chosen are spaces that can be seen by the public, like the cube in the public library is because it's in a public space.

"I just think if you don't have art or music or sound it's a pretty grey world."

It's important to mention that Michael Findlay, who had collaborated in 2017 and 2019, recently died suddenly. It was a huge personal loss to Cath, as well as the community at large. His designs can be seen on the posters and fliers.

Every single event is completely free and open to the public, so don't let the cold stop you. Get out there and discover it.

The gig

Nocturnal Projections  2019 official opening, Gasworks Museum, Tuesday from 5.30pm-7.30pm. Art installations at First Church, Dunedin Public Library, DPAG Rear Window, Olga Gallery and more. Visit for the full schedule.

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