waiver · flash · deviate took place on the inaugural Eastern Art Express – a free bus service to Malcolm Smith Gallery in Howick and Te Tuhi in Pakuranga, departing opposite Artspace on Karangahape Road, Tāmaki Makaurau. Bridget Riggir-Cuddy and Taarati Taiaroa commissioned three new works from artists Hana Pera Aoake, Matilda Fraser and Olivia Blyth to take place throughout the journey. The following is an account of the event from one of the passengers who took part in the journey.
I drove to catch this bus
Wearing a red jersey.
Late, feeling anxious
Only wanting to sleep
The last on I make my way down to the back where I spot a familiar face and say some breathless hellos before being instructed to put on the blindfolds we were greeted with as we boarded.(1)
It was a hot winters day and the prospect of working up a sweat making idle sightless conversation amongst that small crowd had me move away to an empty seat.
People don’t stop talking. Within earshot they’re musing as to whether we might have been deceived and are being taken on some illicit journey. Like the game young toddlers play by covering their eyes to hide, the blindfold was immediately amusing and a relief. No eye contact necessary, roll my eyes at myself and feel the sun through the window.
People all performing for each other, side by side
Making an effort
A missed opportunity, listening to that Chaka Khan song again
Who sits alone?
Colder with no one sitting next to you
Treating it just like a normal bus journey (hovering)
Wish a Speed type romance happened…
Even if wearing headphones channels your focus out the window, it’s difficult to ignore someone when they sit beside you. Silent acknowledgement, bodies shift to either make room or claim more space. After a while you both adjust to the proximity and ease back into your own thoughts. Any number of predictable or unfathomable situations could arise.
Some time into the journey somebody sat next to me. This was going to happen. Their presence was a comfort—made me make careful cat-like movements to be sure they really were there. They didn’t talk, but opened a packet of chips and crunched away—what a sweet sound—leaving as abruptly and inconspicuously as they had appeared. (2)
There was some good breeze, open windows probably
And the smell of citronella
‘So much citrus in this city’(3)
A disembodied voice
Who was our driver? I don’t remember his name but I remember thanking him.
Looking at people from behind or in the reflection of the wide windows, the sky is always right there on these buses. Napes of necks are not so visible in winter.
‘Not knowing where you are is not quite the same as being lost’(4)
Running the 1 minute distance to the bus stop near my teenage home, where during the day or weekend there’s only one an hour. Breathless in a suburban street, making sure that there’s time to wait so as not to miss it. The colour of the sky might match the music in my headphones. Get on, there’s always a seat, being at the start of the route, and settle in for the hour long mission in to ‘the city’.
Remembering the music I listened to, the epiphanies I had on the bus at certain places in the journey (“wow the sky is three dimensional – I can see clouds moving in front of other clouds”).
While the works weren’t named, their presence was accurately conveyed without clear beginning or end. The blindfolds were taken off (‘it gave me motion sickness’), the subtlety of the audio playing through the sound system was lost in bubbles of conversation, and not many people had left the seat beside them empty. Any bus ride plays host to any nostalgia, and the blur between sitting and moving, between participating and creating, fades through memories.
- Olivia Blyth
- Hana Pera Aoake
- Matilda Fraser
- Matilda Fraser
Image: Matilda Fraser (2016) Photo taken by Bridget Riggir-Cuddy