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a man looking at the camera

In celebration of Ōtautahi Christchurch’s annual Antarctic Festival Days of Ice from 29 September to 9 October we’ll be screening Where Memories Sleep on our 20 metre screen four times a day at the International Antarctic Centre.

When: 29 September – 9 October at 9.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm & 2.30pm

Duration: 30 Minutes

You can watch Where Memories Sleep for free with your paid General Admission to International Antarctic Centre.

Where Memories Sleep is an immersive cine-dance production that tells the imagined legend of the Aurora in Antarctica. Blurring the lines between dance, theatre, music and film this exciting installation is a creative output inspired by the 2016 Scott Base, Antarctica residency by visual artist Jason O’Hara and musician Warren Maxwell. Choreography by Ooshcon Masseurs.


a dark room

The production opens with a pre-performance sequence depicting a journey through the concrete wilderness. This two-minute introduction sets the scene of modern life in Aotearoa New Zealand and gives the audience a chance to get settled before the dancers begin.


a person in a dark room

We find ourselves settled in a concrete landscape that slowly fills with a wave of humanity stumbling forward, mindlessly lost in their own journey with little consideration for the impact of their actions. In the midst of this crowd appears the story’s hero, an inquisitive young woman called Sci, who bravely answers a call of adventure and fights her way against the flow.

Our young explorer represents an amalgamation of the scientists who visit Antarctica looking to understand our relationship with the natural world, its history and the impact of climate change. The “call of Antarctica” is actually based on the sound of Weddell Seal calls recorded under the sea-ice in Antarctica.


a person standing next to a body of water

The masses melt away and Sci finds herself on a long sea voyage south. Along the way, she has recruited five other adventurers and together they form a ‘waka’ to push through the waves. Eventually, the waves build to a ferocious storm and between lightning flashes we see glimpses of other characters who have come to help her but eventually,
the storm builds and chaos ensues.

The six explorers are a tribute to an early Polynesian explorer Ui-Te-Rangiora who headed a fleet of six waka that sailed far enough south to see icebergs in the seventh century.


The storm clears to reveal a frozen landscape and the first inhabitants to encounter Sci are a gang of penguins. They come over to investigate this newcomer, eventually making friends.

Penguins regularly appear to investigate science teams on the ice. They reminded Jason and Warren of groups of bored teenagers hanging out on the streets and they took inspiration from Japanese street fashion and urban street dance in their representation. The landscape behind them is a photo of the face of Barne Glacier.


a close up of an animal

The encounter with the penguins is interrupted by the arrival of a Weddell Seal. He has been watching from afar and has fallen in love with Sci. Changing into human form he seduces her with his graceful dance.

Representing the beauty of Antarctica, Weddell seals often accompany scientists diving under the sea ice as they investigate the effects of a changing climate. Their graceful movement and unworldly calls are incredibly seductive.


The developing romance is hindered when a powerful kaitiaki appears. She reminds the young explorer of humanity’s place in the world and gifts her the memories of the world she has kept in her icy cloak.

Mount Erebus was an omnipresent feature of the team’s field campsite. Flowing down her slopes is the Barne Glacier. Some science teams drill into the ice in Antarctica and can sample air trapped there to analyse conditions from thousands of years ago.


The departure of the kaitiaki signals the start of the darkness of winter. Sci has a brief moment to say goodbye to her love before returning to her home. Heartbroken at her departure, the seal sings a song of lament so beautiful that it lights the night sky.

Most of the science community in Antarctica leaves with the onset of the 24/7 darkness and bitter cold of the Antarctic winter. The few that “winter over” are treated to the sight of the Aurora Australis. Warren has again used the haunting sound of the seal calls in this section of the soundtrack.