Wellington Scoop

Three artists, three works, one crisis

News from Urban Dream Brokerage
Two of Wellington’s ‘mega wahine babes’ come together to take on the housing crisis with support from Wellington’s enlivening, boundary pushing, arts and community organisation Urban Dream Brokerage.

Introducing Two Artists, Three Works, One Crisis! Get set for another hot topic with Urban Dream Brokerage’s (UDB) fourth 2021 commission for a vacant space, with support from the Wellington City Council. From late November through to February, artists Bek Coogan and Heleyni Pratley will delve into one of the biggest crises of our time, presenting two solo works, along with a collaborative ‘panel discussion’ event, in response to the housing crisis. Prepare!

“We intend for our art to draw attention to the pain & suffering caused by the effects of the neo-liberal economic agenda regarding housing over the last decades. The results of these ‘free-market’ policies have increased the poverty & class divide for all”

Bek Coogan kicks things off on November 26th for a four day period, with her performance based project The Original Homeless running from Friday November 26th to Monday November 29th at 115 Manners St, next to the Opera House. Developing further her recent art project ‘We’re all Hostages’ held at Te Whare Herā in 2020.

For that project Coogan rescued 100s of shards of mostly rimu sarking destined for landfill, in what she calls a “raged response” to the housing and economic situation. The rimu sarking wood is making a come-back, starring in a contemporary, interactive, real life, real time take on the Christmas nativity scene with ‘classic Christmas crafts’ We are the ‘Christmas Card,” says Coogan. “Can affordable rent be the gift this Christmas?”

This interactive work will be part installation, part performance, as passers by are welcomed to become part of the work and part of the story, via the opportunity to take a photo, make a card, or a decoration with their own authentic message. It may be just a chance to pause and breathe. Sometimes that is the best option available.

Like the real estate agents say, ‘Location, Location, Location’. The site of Te Aro Park for this art work is already historically loaded, located at 115 Manners St, the activation will be open from 10am to 4pm daily.

Check www.urbandreambrokerage.org.nz/two-artists-three-works-one-crisis for updates around activation.

“I’m referencing historic and symbolic narratives that have been ‘layered with consumerism’ via the brainwashing with the tropes of ‘Christmas Capitalism’, to create a space to reflect on how the land and spirituality, and the human rights to a home have also been consumed and disrespected.”

Bek Coogan is a Te Whanganui-a-Tara-based artist and musician, performance artist, whose work orbits the meeting points where real life meets art. Originally from Palmerston North, she works across the fields of Performance, Music, Video, Drawing and Collage, exploring both the art and non-art world, questioning the artist’s role and their ability to practice in non-art spaces.

Part two of this huge and essential topic comes from artist Heleyni Pratley with background work and interviews kicking off in December and culminating in February with A Work About The Housing Crisis With An Indoor Outdoor Flow featuring The Housing Crisis Community Reflection and Assessment Centre, where you will be met by ‘Flow’ a housing space concept, embodied by Pratley. This immersive and participatory work will carve out a space in the city where the complexities of the housing crisis can be explored and feelings shared, through art making, discussion and reflection.

The work from these two incredibly strong Wellington based women then culminates in February as they combine forces for The Panel! Get Set for this live performance event starring ‘the ladder’, an economist, and a smoke machine.

Two Artists, Three Works, One Crisis, is the fourth in a series of public art commissions for vacant city spaces funded by Wellington City Council’s City Recovery Fund and commissioned by public art organisation Letting Space and vacant space brokers Urban Dream Brokerage. They will be produced by artists during 2021 and early 2022 with spaces brokered for them by the brokerage.

UDB has previously assisted and brokered space for over 100 creative projects in Te Whanganui-e-tara and wider Aotearoa from 2013-2018. The programme has encouraged the innovative use of vacant and underutilised retail and public space to creatively build community. With our world changing due to Covid 19, they received a strong mandate to return in 2020 and continue their mahi of enlivening our cities’ streets.

“Urban Dream Brokerage is a must-have for Wellington – with its ability to energise locations and spaces and create a sense of fun and interest – it helps continue to make our city a special place.”

— David McGuinness, Director, Willis Bond, 2021