Erika Balsom, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre's 2017 International Film Curator in Residence

Erika Balsom, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre's 2017 International Film Curator in Residence

We welcome Erika Balsom as International Film Curator in Residence 2017

17 Aug 2017

Erika is senior lecturer in Film Studies at King's College, London. Her research interests include moving image installation, experimental cinema, the history of film theory, and documentary cinema.

With the increasing global interest in the work of Len Lye, this residency connects the international film community with the collection and archives of the experimental film pioneer Len Lye, along with other historic and contemporary New Zealand filmmakers.

The Creative New Zealand funded international film curator residency programme was established at the Govett-Brewster in 2013 and runs in alternate years for one month.

The International Film Curator in Residence is invited to define and curate a film project for the art museum’s film programme. Erika’s project while here includes researching a future Projection Series, the flagship programme of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre’s cinema, surveying the landscape of historical and contemporary fine art filmmaking.

Erika will give a public talk at the Len Lye Centre Cinema on Saturday 2 September in association with the forthcoming Projection Series #7: First as fiction, then as myth. With Head of Exhibitions and Collections Sophie O’Brien and Assistant Curator Tendai John Mutambu, Erika will discuss the presentation of cinema as contemporary art within museums and art galleries.

The residency is managed by Len Lye Curator Paul Brobbel with operational support and assistance from other curatorial staff specific to the programme. The residency involves working with cinematic media, artists, practitioners and institutions throughout New Zealand.

Erika Balsom is the third International Film Curator in Residence at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre after Kathy Geritz (United States) in 2015 and Philppe-Alain Michaud (France) in 2013.
Paul Brobbel: “This is the third Creative New Zealand International Film Curator in Residence and it’s a successful programme that brings world class expertise to our film programme. This is important because it’s growing our capacity as we establish the Len Lye Centre as a centre for the exhibition and thinking around film in the Pacific Rim. It also integrates our programme into the world conversation around film”.

Once again the International Film Curator in Residence is a keynote speaker at the CIRCUIT Artist and Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand Symposium. Erika will speak on the observational mode of documentary in artists’ moving image practice. CIRCUIT’s fifth annual symposium is presented this year as The Thickness of Cinema, at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, on Saturday 26 August.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Simon Rees: “We’re very glad to welcome Erika Balsom to extend the geographic reach of our three international film curators in residence to London, one of the film capitals of the world. And by extension of Erika’s background to Canada and the inspirational programme of Fogo Island Arts that our audience has learnt about through the visit of its director Nicolaus Schafhausen in 2015. I’m looking forward to Erika’s future contribution to the programme”.

Erika Balsom: “I’m so happy to be spending this month in New Zealand to undertake a curatorial project at the Govett-Brewster. It’s wonderful to participate in strengthening existing ties between the Len Lye Centre and CIRCUIT, and to be a part of the dialogue they are creating together between historical and contemporary moving image practice”.

On Sunday 27 August Erika will introduce a special programme of films by Alexandre Larose (Canada) screening at the Len Lye Centre Cinema. Larose was the 2016 International Artist in Residence with CIRCUIT Artist and Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand.

She will also give a talk, After uniqueness: art, reproducibility, and the moving image, in the Elam Postgraduate seminar series at the Elam Lecture Theatre, The University of Auckland, on Wednesday 16 August.

About Erika Balsom

Before joining the Film Studies department at King’s College in 2013, Erika Balsom held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley (2010-2011) and was assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University, Ottawa (2011-2013).

Erika Balsom has a PhD in Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, USA (2010); an MA in Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London and a BA Hons in Cinema Studies, University of Toronto, Canada.

Her most recent book, After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation, was published by Columbia University Press in 2017. She is author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013), the co-editor of Documentary Across Disciplines (2016), and a frequent contributor to Artforum and Sight and Sound. Her work has appeared in publications including Grey Roome-flux, Cinema Journal, and numerous exhibition catalogues.

Erika Balsom has lectured widely, more recently at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), LUX (London), Light Industry (New York), Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle, Copenhagen University, and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh).

In Spring 2014, she was a writer-in-residence at Fogo Island Arts. From 2012–15 she was co-chair of ExFM, the experimental film and media scholarly interest group at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She is currently a trustee at LUX.


Elam Postgraduate seminar series
Erika Balsom After uniqueness: art, reproducibility, and the moving image
Wednesday 16 August, 12 – 1.30pm
Elam Lecture Theatre, The University of Auckland

CIRCUIT Artist and Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand Symposium
The Thickness of Cinema
Saturday 26 August, 10am – 4pm
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

The Films of Alexandre Larose
Sunday 27 August, 2 – 3.30pm
Len Lye Centre Cinema

Exhibition talk – Projection Series #7: Erika Balsom
Saturday 2 September, 2 – 3pm
Len Lye Centre Cinema


Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre’s full programme happening with exhibitions, talks, tours, cinema screenings and art making, Aug – Nov, is here to peruse or download:


For high-res images or further enquiries please contact:

Kelly Loney

Communications Adviser

M: +27 839 2660




About Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in the coastal city of New Plymouth, Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific Rim. The Govett-Brewster is also home to the collection and archive of the seminal modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901–1980).

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded with a gift to the city of New Plymouth, from one of its greatest ‘Friends’ Monica Brewster (née Govett). A globetrotter before the age of air travel, Monica Brewster envisaged an art museum for her hometown that would be an international beacon for the art and ideas of the current day – the sort she had become familiar with on her global travels.

The Govett-Brewster continues in the legacy of Monica Brewster by taking on and presenting the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art in the global arts landscape.

The greatly expanded museum re-launched on 25 July 2015 with the addition of the Len Lye Centre. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is the country’s first example of destination architecture linked to contemporary art.

This latest addition to the Govett-Brewster – the Len Lye Centre – is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.

In 1964 Len Lye said “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art”.

The Len Lye Centre building, adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is an example of innovative thinking in both engineering and architecture. The architects are Patterson Associates, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architectural firms.

The new Len Lye Centre features Lye’s work in kinetic sculpture, film, painting, drawing, photography, batik and writing, as well as related work by contemporary and historical artists.

It also houses a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema – a welcoming environment for audiences to experience Len Lye’s films, local and international cinema, cult, arthouse and experimental films, and regular festival programming.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery building in New Plymouth closed in April 2013 for earthquake strengthening, compliance, upgrades and construction of the Len Lye Centre.

The Govett-Brewster/Len Lye Centre is owned and operated by the New Plymouth District Council, which governs the museum under the terms of the founding Monica Brewster Trust Deed and through the Len Lye Committee of Council which formally manages the relationship between Council, Len Lye Foundation, and Govett-Brewster staff.


About Len Lye

A visionary New Zealander, an inspirational artist, a pioneer of film; Len Lye is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand.

Len Lye was an experimental filmmaker, poet, painter, kinetic sculptor and creative visionary ahead of his time. Most of his works were so revolutionary that technology literally had to catch up to him – meaning much of Lye’s work was not realised in his own lifetime.

Lye’s iconic 45-metre kinetic sculpture Wind Wand sways gently on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. The Wind Wand that glows red at night, is the first large outdoor sculpture to be built posthumously from his plans and drawings.

In 1977 Lye returned to his homeland to oversee the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He called it the “swingiest art gallery of the antipodes”.

Shortly before his death in 1980, Lye and his supporters established the Len Lye Foundation, to which he gifted his entire collection. His collection was gifted on the condition that a suitable and permanent home be created in which his works could be fully realised.