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We have been cultural hermits of late, curled up with books or our favourite television shows. We are hooked on the second season of “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, a home-grown detective show set in the roaring twenties in Melbourne. It has a wonderful cast, fabulous costumes, great cars and eccentric villains.

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Then there are the offerings on BBC IView, which I have discovered through the IPad and Apple TV. And thanks to the miracle of mirroring, we can now access one of our favourite shows– A&E’s recently renewed Wyoming Western– “Longmire.” Despite the lead’s ruggedly Western appearance and accent, Robert Taylor is a graduate of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He hails from this part of the world.

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The Melbourne International Festival is going on, however. We have witnessed some wonderful productions at the Festival in past years, including a great Lithuanian production of “Romeo and Juliet” set in two pizza parlours. This year the offerings seem less compelling, but that may be because I’m simply not keeping up with the cultural shifts or the artistic director is less attuned to my demographic, or there are budget constraints, or a combination of all three.

We did get tickets to one of the hottest new dance troupes to hit Melbourne in awhile– Hofesh Shecter’s troupe from the UK. His latest show is called “Sun,” a production my wife compared to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring. It was definitely loud and intense, discomforting and a little disorienting.

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“In a career still only ten years old, Hofesh Shechter’s inimitable brand of epic, cinematic and powerfully tribal choreography has become a genre unto itself – a blend of pulverising rock, skittering folk dance and haunting imagery that has redefined the boundaries of dance. A former drummer and rock musician, Shechter composes the propulsive soundtracks that drive his works, making for a closely bound marriage of sound and movement.”

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Check out the trailer for the show and decide for yourself. It’s at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLjTbvasEzo.

This weekend, we have tickets for Clannad. This will be one of their first performances together in years and I’m looking forward to their ethereal sound. On Sunday, I took the tram down to the City to see an eleven minute anamorphic art film called “Film.” It is another product of the UK, originally projected at the Tate Modern. “Epic yet intimate, Dean’s work is a surreal, hallucinatory display of ever-transforming images, grand and minute, silent yet full to bursting. A 13-metre-tall monolith, FILM appears for its second-ever showing in the expansive setting of ACCA’s main gallery. Flickering with a luminous, tangible beauty, Tacita Dean’s artwork is an epic homage to an endangered medium – a pure and essential distillation of the fading magic of celluloid cinema.”

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What captivated me more than anything else was an event I witnessed by chance, when I wandered around the wonderful water-wall at the National Gallery of Victoria to take some photos. I arrived right before a performance of “music” on the oddest assortment of instruments I have ever seen. The event was called “DisArm,” for reasons that soon became obvious.

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Mexican artist/musician Pedro Reyes was already known for a 2008 project called “Pistols to Shovels,” in which he melted down 1,527 weapons to make the same number of shovels to plant trees. For “Disarm,” Reyes had a choice of about 6,700 guns that were turned in or seized by the army and police in Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.3 million people across the border from El Paso, Texas. In 2010, at the height of the drug-related violence in Mexico, the city averaged 10 killings a day. “DisArm” began with a phone call offering Pedro another chance to work with an arsenal of seized weapons.

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Drug-cartel violence cost more than 70,000 lives in Mexico over the last six years and the weapons trafficking has been a sore point; many of the weapons used by the cartels are smuggled across the border from the United States into Mexico. In 2012, then-president Felipe Calderon inaugurated a billboard in Ciudad Juarez which, facing Texas, spelled out the words “No More Weapons” in welded pieces of decommissioned guns.

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“It occurred to me to make musical instruments, because music is the opposite of weapons,” Reyes said. “This exercise of transformation we see with the guns, is what we would like to see in society.” “It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons, as if a sort of exorcism was taking place,” sculptor Pedro Reyes said in a description of his project emailed to The Associated Press.

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When they were played, he said, “the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.” As you might expect, the “music” produced on the ingenious instruments was anything but harmonious. It was loud, cacophonous and disturbing, like the lethal impact of the weapons themselves. But if the medium really is the message, “DisArm” has “Sun” and “Film” beat by a plowshare.

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After the exceedingly hot temps last Sunday (that we cyclists could have done without, thank you), it has turned chilly again. Today, the estimate is from 10 to 18 Celsius, or between 50 and 64 F. I have no idea what it was last night when I hopped the tram down to Federation Square, but it was damn cold. I expected to see a crowd in the thousands for a free Arts Festival event . Instead, maybe a hundred shivering souls showed up.

The event was called “Sphere of Influence.” The pictures convey the aesthetic of the globe, but they don’t really capture the accompanying sounds, all of which were live and quite bizarre, even scary at times. Or the text and images flashed on the huge video display overhead. The artist’s name is Jon Rose. The overriding message seemed to be “there is no free lunch.”

Melbourne loves festivals, even more than Montreal. The Fringe Festival just ended. The Melbourne International Arts Festival is in full swing. Merce Cunningham is here with his dance company. Laurie Anderson performed a specially commissioned work called “Homeland.” Peter Brook is directing an Athol Fugard play.

Attracted to familiar names, I bought tickets to a Canadian production of a play by John Mighton called “Half Life” and a new work by the Japanese Butoh group, Sankai Juku. I had never seen a Mighton play before, but had always liked the production company, Necessary Angel. I had vague, but favorable memories of a performance of Sankai Juku years ago in Los Angeles, probably soon after the company was founded 32 years ago.

The play was well written and very well executed, but its exploration of old age seemed self indulgent and pedestrian. Unfortunately, my wife was heading off the continent the night of Sankai Juku. I talked my teenage daughter into going, thinking the costumes would enchant her.

The dance was called Kagemi, beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors. It was slow and abstract. Compelling if you love the marvelous invention of choreography and the talent of the dancers. But there was no intermission. No chance for my daughter to escape.

Last night’s performance was done for free in Federation Square. No one was trapped. Some people strolled through the performance space apparently oblivious to the art in progress. Some drifted off into the night. I was enchanted with the idea of the fabric globe but the execution of the piece seemed repetitive and less than inspired.

I was home in time to catch the new series on The Australian Broadcasting Corporation called “Not Quite Art.” The host is charming and very enthusiastic about all those activities that fall outside the scope of galleries and museums. Last night’s show was about graffiti, which attracts Japanese tourists to Melbourne in droves.

I haven’t given up. Call me a fool for art. There is the circus and La Clique, in the Famous Speigeltent. Stay tuned.

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