Performance artist’s work gains national attention

Pictured: Wanaka performance artist Ivan Lupi will perform two pieces at The Performance Arcade 2019 in Wellington next month, including “X,” which invites people to mark his hands with a tattoo machine.| Photo: Scott Lawrie

There is another performance-based field in Wanaka that is garnering national attention besides in the activity of sport. A Wanaka-based international performance artist is heading to Wellington next month following his selection to participate at The Performance Arcade 2019.

Ivan Lupi is amongst 24 performers selected to join this year’s The Performance Arcade, which opens February 21 and runs through March 3 on the Wellington waterfront. The 46-year-old Italian immigrant told the Wanaka Sun he is excited for the opportunity to share his art in such a well-organised and established festival.

“I feel pretty lucky because since my move to New Zealand [two years ago] I have been greeted and supported by fellow artists who helped me to understand the national art environment. I have already had opportunities to perform at The Museum of Transport in Auckland and at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Christchurch, and I have a relationship with the Vivian Gallery in Matakana.”

Lupi, who has been confirmed New Zealand residency, said he is using his art to cast a light on the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, which was marked in 2018, as well as immigration issues and xenophobia from a queer perspective.  

His first piece, entitled “X,” runs for 12 consecutive hours daily from February 21-24 to celebrate the achievement of gender equality and exploring polling booth responsibilities.

“It was selected for performance three times last year, including one at Performance Art Week Aotearoa in Wellington. It’s a long duration performance that focuses on decision-making and how permanently our decisions can affect our life and the lives of others in the future. I bring my skin and a tattoo machine, inviting people to leave a mark together on the back of one of my hands of their choice,” said Lupi.

His second piece, called “Immigrants Welcome,” is also a 12-hour performance that celebrates the art of Khristopher Khrist, who is a graffiti-collage artist living in Spavinaw, Oklahoma; “a place where homophobia is tangible in the air every single day they step out of their houses,” said Lupi.

“The performance brings a living, three-dimensional setup to one of Khrist’s collages…. with Khrist’s help and the contribution of tattoo artist Mana Timu from Invercargill, we have created an interactive room where people can enter and decide to which level of interaction they intend to experience the work.”

Lupi said his work is bolstered by the high number of artists in town, but he thinks that Wanaka could use more performance artists to help demonstrate safe ways of exploring varying topics, including political, historical and philosophical. Next month’s The Performance Arcade will allow him to stage performances that “challenge people’s prejudices in mainstream settings”.

“I still think that in terms of performance artists, there could be more of us. We actually need more of them. There is still a lot of work to do,” he said.

The Performance Arcade 2019 is a free, all ages event on the Wellington Waterfront.



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