Check into Heather Straka’s Isolation Hotel this summer

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Artist Heather Straka's “wacky” exhibition will transport visitors to 1930s Germany.

Ross Giblin

Artist Heather Straka’s “wacky” exhibition will transport visitors to 1930s Germany.

With managed isolation facilities popping up everywhere in recent years, Cantabria will soon have the opportunity to experience a different kind of isolation hotel.

The Isolation Hotel exhibition, created by Auckland artist Heather Straka, will transport visitors to 1930s Germany this summer at the Canterbury Museum in collaboration with SCAPE Public Art.

The exhibition will combine photography, performance and scenography to achieve an immersive feeling allowing viewers to express themselves on an elaborate stage inside the museum.

The Isolation Hotel opened on Saturday and operates until March 20, 2022.

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It will feature a diverse cast of mysterious characters seeking sanctuary at this once lavish, but now run-down German hotel.

A series of free and paid programs including drawing, poetry, theater, artists working in space, film screenings and a cabaret performance will be organized for the public by guest curator Audrey Baldwin to bring to life the exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition will experience the recreated look of a German hotel foyer, with the set forming a backdrop for Straka’s own photographs that recall the epic history of famous Baroque artists Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt .

Boy in Trouble, 2021. Image courtesy of Heather Straka.

Heather straka

Boy in Trouble, 2021. Image courtesy of Heather Straka.

Straka hoped visitors could relate to the characters in her photo, but also use the setting as a backdrop for taking their own photos and telling their own stories.

“I left the experience open and enigmatic, so that people could project their own dreams, desires and anxieties onto the stage. Isolation Hotel can mean whatever you want, ”Straka said.

Straka is a New Zealand artist who has created a significant body of fascinating and controversial works in painting and photography. His practice regularly explores the nature of authenticity and the challenges of representation.

Mambokadzi Tsvarakadenga Queen The Beautiful One, 2021. Image courtesy of Heather Straka.

Heather straka

Mambokadzi Tsvarakadenga Queen The Beautiful One, 2021. Image courtesy of Heather Straka.

Isolation Hotel alludes to current social issues, including Covid-19 lockdowns and managed isolation, the #metoo movement, LGBTQIA + aesthetics and liberation, the housing shortage and contested monuments of a colonial past.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright said he was excited to work with SCAPE Public Art to bring the Isolation Hotel to Canterbury.

“Heather Straka created a totally wacky experience – it’s definitely unlike anything we’ve had at the museum before.

“I’m sure it will generate a lot of fun while provoking interesting conversations,” he said.


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