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First Events Announced for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts


The first events announced for the 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts will enable audiences to voyage to the future; connect to histories, land and spiritual realms, and meet writers from around the globe.

Running every two years since 1986, the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts is the nation’s largest celebration of cutting-edge arts experiences based in the Wellington region.

Its programme features free and ticketed events including music, opera, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature and more.

The Festival’s early announcements give audiences a taste of what to expect in an adapted programming approach responding to Covid-19, which includes extended seasons running right across the summer, more large-scale Aotearoa New Zealand-made experiences than ever before, and the appointment of an acclaimed Artist in Focus, visual artist Lisa Reihana MNZM, who is bringing a major series of free works to the Festival.

“Our aim was to create an extraordinary Festival for extraordinary times,” says Executive Director Meg Williams, “Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts creates a space for you, your friends, whānau and the community.

Space to experience an emotional journey, to discover more about yourself and others, and to come together through the arts.

“A number of works will be able to go ahead in Covid-19 alert level 2. We’re pleased to see the vaccine programme ramping up and we can’t wait to bring audiences together this summer,” she says.

Headlining the programme is an internationally acclaimed visual artist, Lisa Reihana, who is the Artist in Focus for the 2022 Festival.

Since the 1990s Reihana has significantly influenced the development of New Zealand contemporary art and contemporary Māori art.

In 2014, she was named an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation and awarded the Te Tohu Toi Kē Te Waka Toi Maori Arts Innovation Award in 2015.

In the 2018 New Year Honours, Lisa was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art.

BELLE – A performance of air


In great demand since showcasing her large-scale video installation, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Lisa has been commissioned around the world from Australia to Europe and everywhere in between culminating in one of her biggest works for the famous shoemaker Christian Louboutin, which was closed due to Covid just after opening last year.

in Pursuit of Venus [infected] finally comes home to Aotearoa in its full and final form and will be shown at Te Papa from 15 October 2021 until 25 April 2022.

Don’t miss the spectacle event of the Festival by choreographer Malia Johnston (Show Director, World of WearableArt) alongside an exceptional team of creative artists and performers.

A breathtaking display featuring aerialists, live musicians and dance artists.

In BELLE – A performance of air, transformation is created with light, as the performers disappear and reappear like magic.

Running at TSB Arena across nine days, audiences will share the space with performers, moving around the venue bathed in light to experience aerobatics, dance and sound from multiple perspectives.(26 February – 6 March 2022).

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita says the Festival celebrates artists exploring the most compelling ideas of our time in truly innovative and exciting ways. “As always, the Festival programme is set to challenge and inspire us, as well as bring us great joy. This is just a taste of what’s to come, from sublime moments of the classical canon to the best of the contemporary art world, this programme has been crafted for you.”

BELLE takes its name from the French word libellule (dragonfly) and is also the name of the show’s unique purpose-built piece of circus apparatus.

In some cultures, the dragonfly is symbolic for transformation. In BELLE, transformation is created with sculptural light portals where the performers appear and reappear as if by magic.

BELLE invites you into a truly transformative experience where you will be left wanting more.

Enjoy solo or with friends, you will be guided to various locations in the space to observe the work from multiple perspectives. There are a strictly limited number of spaces per night, so get in quick.

2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts will be live from 21 February to 20 March, find out more information and the full line up here.

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