Underbelly Arts Festival
National Art School
October 7-8, 2017
Underbelly Arts Festival is a two-day presentation and celebration of contemporary Australian art in all its forms. 21 ambitious new projects spanning installation, performance, dance, sound, visual art, intervention, digital art, radical opera, architecture, activist and participatory practices and everything in between with the selection of this year’s program approached with a feeling, rather than a particular theme.
The common thread of this year’s Underbelly Arts program is that each artist has taken something they are deeply connected to and squeezed it to see what new shapes emerge:
Christian liturgy and Chinese opera, cultural songs and clay, hot chips, Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Albert Camu’s Myth of Sisyphus and Beyoncé’s Watermelon.
Daoist shrines, Indian noise music, public complaints, memes, microbes, Tamil devotional films and reality TV with the artists sharing stories of their multi-geographical, multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-historical, multi-gendered upbringings with the audience.
Proceedings were opened with a shindig serenaded with sad Goth party jams, visceral electronic beats and roaming performances by Bhenji Ra and Angela Goh to celebrate the opening night of Underbelly Arts Festival, featuring Melbourne’s HABITS, Gussy and Jikuroux.
A peek behind-the-scenes of experimental art making is offered as the curtain was lifted on the creative process via two-week program of behind-the-scenes Lab tours and evening events - from experimental poetry readings to talks that span apple genetics and decolonising the dance floor, group chats about envisioning the future and a presentation on the art of listening to the tides.
Artists from all 21 projects will be onsite at National Art School, developing, installing and rehearsing their ambitious projects.
After taking a Lab Tour, one is invited to delve into the Late at the Lab program of evening events: talks, workshops, lectures, film screenings, readings and performances run in collaboration with Runway Experimental Art, the NOW now, Subbed In, 2 Up among others.
In the ten years since it kicked off at Carriageworks, this biennial festival of arts, music and performance has established itself as a sort of alt-Biennale: Edgier, local-focused, but consistently facilitating artists with large visions, and creating a festival that has always been immersive and interactive in its presentation of 'art'.
Roslyn Helper, former Underbelly Arts participant and new festival director, has hit the ground running, offering emerging artist a forum and proper space to develop and present their emissions.
A festival that is vitally important for the future of Australian arts and one that deserves that be marked in your calendar.
Photos by KAVV -- See a full gallery below.
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