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AAF invites everyone to take a good, long look at themselves

The mirror-gazing experience that has shot to the top of everyone’s must-do lists at Festivals around the globe is on its way to Auckland Arts Festival in March.

After sending audiences at the Sydney Festival in a spin, messing with Melburnians’ minds and giving guests at Tasmania’s 2016 Dark Mofo festival the run around, the extraordinary, ambitious and brilliant reimagining of the amusement park classic, House of Mirrors, created by two Australian artists, will park up at the Auckland Arts Festival’s Festival Playground at Silo Park from 8-25 March.

The massive outdoor, walk-through labyrinth, composed of seemingly endless mirrors, brings a new sense of scale and astonishment to the carnival mirror maze, a puzzle box that has mesmerised participants since the 19th century.

The mirror has also long fascinated Melbourne installation artists Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney who studied the reflective glass’ recurrence as a motif in art, performance and cinema when designing their geometric wonderland.

"Initially, Keith and I were looking forward to creating some chaos, with people being nervous and scared," Wagstaff told an Australian newspaper. "We wanted a significant emotional reaction.”

"From the outside, it doesn't give much away. We wanted it to have a sense of being a house, a big ominous structure, the house on the hill. Mirror mazes are a whole metaphor for life. Every moment in life is coming to a point where you make a decision about where to go next,” Wagstaff says.

Navigating through the 40 tonnes of steel and 15 tonnes of glass, each person’s experience of the giant open-air House of Mirrors will differ depending on the time of day they take their journey and the weather conditions at the time.

In a world flooded with perspective-shifting digital technology, perhaps the most impressive effect of this disorienting structure is the extraordinary optical illusion it achieves. People are truly baffled, frequently disoriented and always amazed.

House of Mirrors is utopia for children, Instagrammers, selfie-takers and anyone who wants to take a good, long look at themselves. Now go on, get lost.


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