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Amelia Harris

Amelia Harris

Interviewed by
Chris Cudby
Wednesday 21st August, 2013 3:11PM

With the recent premiere of her feature film Oracle Drive at the NZ International Film Festival and her current Seven Octaves Plus A Minor Third group exhibition showing at the Audio Foundation, Auckland-based artist/curator/producer Amelia Harris doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. With a huge amount of projects under her belt, now seems the perfect time to to catch up with Harris about her recent creative pursuits and more.

Tell us about your exhibition (in collaboration with over twenty local artists - including myself), 'Seven Octaves Plus A Minor Third'...

I've asked some of Auckland's artists, musicians and performers to pick a key of the piano and make a response to it, either verbally, musically or as a performance. These responses have been filmed and they comprise the main content of the exhibition, one after the other, as a single big projection.

How have the artists responded to your brief? Any surprises in how artists responded to/talked about specific notes?

They have responded amazingly, generously, simply, sadly, quietly, humorously.

You're credited as curator of this exhibition, but you're also actively involved in making the work ie. you are filming a number of artists who are contributing to the project. There seems to be some slipperiness there - do you see your role as curator for this project as being akin to the artist or something else?

I enjoy thinking pretty broadly about curating. Some shows I've curated just involved a few emails to make it happen, others needed me to really focus on individual work, write something, paint the walls, deal with digital files, others involved lending camera equipment and months of esoteric conversations, or others still needed spells of quiet research.

I'd say my style of curating responds to what the situation needs.

You were the producer of the recently released feature film Oracle Drive that recently premiered at the Auckland Film Festival – would you like to talk about that project? What did your role as 'Producer' entail for this project?

Yeah producing in this case is like how I think about curating. The film started by Gabriel White (the director) and I going on some day trips to the North Shore where we'd drive and walk around talking about the place. Some of this we'd film. Other times I've left Gabriel with the camera gear and he'd go for his own explorations. Then we'd get together and look at the shots, talk some more, have a beer and some dinner. The main role I played in the film continuously was talking about ideas, sifting through them, separating them out, looking for those ideas that make you laugh in that mischievous way, or those thoughts that make you think, whoa, full on. Other times being the producer means reading over the paperwork and making sure all the boxes are ticked. But mostly it's being on the other end of the phone, across the dinner table and in the passenger seat of the car.

What inspired Albany as a site for exploration/reflection?

We've worked on a couple of feature length documentaries based Auckland City side, so Albany, being on the north side of the North Shore, had the allure of a foreign place, and the street signs references a lot of other foreign places. To be honest, I think whoever named the streets has been expecting us to come and have a look for some time. Some of the other places weren't expecting us so much. In many ways this film could have taken place anywhere, Albany just happened to be the location this time. The next film will be shot in Manukau.

How's the reception been for Oracle Drive? Any plans to show it elsewhere?

The reception has been awesome, thanks to everyone who came. We've been so happy to be part of the NZ International Film Festival, the Q&A's were great. We're looking into some overseas festivals at the moment.

From looking at your excellent Tumblr page your art practice seems very multidisciplinary and frequently collaborative, encompassing film making, writing, curating, design and more – how would you describe your practice?

I like film because its very transportable and easy to store away or pass around, and in the way I make it, it's not very wasteful. I'm always attracted to uncovering places and information because that feels to me like where the juice of life is.

What artists are inspiring you right now?

Every single one of those artists in the show.

Seven Octaves Plus A Minor Third (curated by Amelia Harris) runs until Saturday 31 August at the Audio Foundation (Poynton Terrace, Auckland).

Trailer for Oracle Drive:

This interview is proudly brought to you by the Audio Foundation.