FESTA, our two yearly Festival of Transitional Architecture has become one of the shining examples of the innovative and creative events to emerge in Cracked City, post-2011.
Way back in those early days, FESTA came along and celebrated and embraced the empty lots and lack of traditional buildings and CBD, whilst everyone else was busy saying we were done, finished, over. Their first event, Lux City, felt like the a glimmer of hope & fistful of possibility in what were still very bleak times.
This year, FESTA once again shifted and evolved to fit its surroundings, our shifting landscape, and who we are as a community. We love to lament the lack of progress in Cracked City, but I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing how much the CBD has changed in two years, and how little empty space there actually is to hold an event of this scale these days.
Rather than the event being bordered by endless gravel lots, of previous events, this year our backdrop was a the new south frame/ Justice Precinct, Hoyts ENTEX complex and there was actual paving and proper paths / lanes to walk on. You have no idea what a novelty that it round these parts.
So for 2018’s headline event FESTA became FEASTA, with a focus on food, culture, and sustainability. The massive illuminated scaffolding structures of past FESTA’s have become smaller, more compact, more natural, less industrial and extraterrestrial.
There may not have been so many of the big ‘WOW!’ Structures of past years, but I enjoyed how you had to explore and look a bit closer. There felt like more nooks to discover and a strong community / multi cultural focus.
My favourite installation/ project was the circular, timber, structure lined with plates with maps, roads and city outlines drawn on them. Inside, several FESTA team members, with microphones, were asking you to tell & record your own Chch food memory, and log it on a map. In exchange for your story, you got to pick an item from the shared table in the middle, which had loads of beautiful products from Canterbury producers.
It was a really lovely, emotional, feel-good, project.
I never got to record my story. I couldn’t think of one stand-out moment, and went away to think about what it was going to be, but never made it back.
In fact, if I’m totally honest, most of my night was spent sitting in a comfortable armchair, in the bar area with my dear friend who I ran into. We drank beers and chatted, proper chats, for three hours. Something we don’t get the chance to do very often. We people-watched, enjoyed the very non-Chch dance music coming from the green, leafy, dance-floor/juice bar next to us. A continual stream of friends and familiar faces would enter the area, be immediately greeted by us in our recycled-shabby thrones , and come over to say hi. It was really bloody great.
So…I didn’t get hundreds of photos of the structures all lit up. I didn’t see any of the demonstrations. Or live performances. I didn’t see, or explore, very much at all.
I guess that probably makes me a really shit event reviewer.
But the night took its own natural course and led me in other, special, directions. And that’s just fine. Because if the event was about community, memories, food and drink…well I nailed it. I got the most valuable thing of all – quality time with the people who I love and mean the most to me.
I’ll say it again – what I love about Cracked City is that I can roll up to any event, by myself, with no plans, and usually end up having the best time, in a totally different way to what I envisioned when I left the house.
The mind boggles at where we are going to be at in another two years.
Oh, and, I still don’t quite know what my food story would have been, had I made it back to record. Maybe, now, it’s eating Sun Dog Diner Pop Tarts, and drinking pale ale, with my dear pal, Maurz, that night?
– Bonjela x
FESTA was held Labour Weekend, 19-22 October 2018.
The main event, FEASTA was on 20 October, in the South Frame of the CBD.