positively artrageous

silver artrage festival 2008, perth

Joshua Mu, Aisling Donovan, Preparing to be Beautiful

Joshua Mu, Aisling Donovan, Preparing to be Beautiful

THESE DAYS THE POSSIBILITIES FOR OUTRAGE SEEM SO MUCH MORE PREVALENT WHILE ITS MANIFESTATIONS VERGE ON THE PRIVATE, EVERYDAY ERADICATION OF RIGHTS SLIPPING BY UNACKNOWLEDGED. ARE WE SLOWLY COMING TO OUR SENSES, I WONDER, WAKING TO WHAT’S HAPPENED WHILE WE’VE BEEN WATCHING OUR BACKS? ARE WE READY NOW FOR ART THAT MAKES US RAGE?

Enter Artrage, now in its 25th year and talking up its silver anniversary, which has a quaint ring for what has been by all accounts a gathering of creative tearaways, a festival of the emergent appearing unannounced in all manner of unlikely spaces. This year’s brochure looks disturbingly sweet until you read between its pages the old signs of subversion.

The necessary Climate Change action appears impressively hands-on as we should expect from the avant-garde. Following the supportive paras from sponsor Western Power who’ve planted enough trees to compensate for production of the festival, is the invitation to Artrage audiences to participate in “WA’s first mobile, networked, pedal-powered generator system.” You’re asked to “bring in your bike or use one of ours and contribute your pedal power to producing electricity to run parts of the People Power program.” This includes 1,000 LED lights attached to kites flying above the cultural centre on the Saturday night of the Northbridge Festival. Let’s hope Prof Garnault is taking notes.

Performances/events will be staged at The Bakery Complex as well as a range of other venues and galleries in Perth and Fremantle. A show that caught my eye, as one who likes to dance to the beat of a different drum: a Silent Disco where you “enter, put on headphones, choose your channel then shake it with your dance floor pals.”

In the performance arena, Home Alone showcases new WA contemporary dance as Company Upstairs, featuring Bianca Martin and design artist Jamie Macchiusi, “take a peek through the windows into an abstracted image of everyday life and contemporary Australian domestic normalcy, weekend DIY projects and debt consolidation.” And as if that weren’t enough, they’ll also be delivering “a tale of gratification via material goods, a housing squeeze and life in the lucky country!” Red Shoes is an equally ambitious “radical reworking of the fairytale by Mathew Lutton transgressing gender, eras and theatrical boundaries.” The triple bill Dyuetto includes dancers from The Dance Box in Osaka; Dancehouse in Melbourne and STRUT Dance in Perth.

What would happen, I sometimes wonder, if artists were held to account for the questions they pose at the outset of a creative process and their findings published in worthy journals like The Lancet? I look forward to results on the premise for Preparing to be Beautiful with 6 young dancers, choreographed by Alice Lee Holland, score by Julian Day: “What draws us to symmetry, structure and order” and further, what is behind “modern-day voyeuristic tendencies that reveal an interest in chaos and spontaneity?”

In 24HR Comics, an Artrage-FTI (Film & Television Institute) project, “[s]imultaneously across the globe thousands of eager artists will be doing their best to create a new comic book over 24 consecutive hours.” The book will be posted on the artrage website after October 20.

PVI’s loyal citizens’ underground will be doing their rounds during the festival watching out for transgressions in the municipal order. The festival offers another chance to see REFORM, the company’s witty, interactive performance that cleverly confounds its audience. This is the team that apparently had Singaporeans eating their potato crisps with chopsticks. PVI are also presenting This is the Time, a one-night only event featuring short and edgy performance works from across the country including Unreasonable Adults (SA), Spat & Loogie (NSW), Martyn Coutts, (VIC), Version 1.0 (NSW), panther (NSW), sic (WA), Cat Jones (QLD), Hydra Poesis (WA) and Michelle Outram (WA).

The History of Glass looks intriguing. “One day a whole lot of people wake to find themselves imprisoned in a huge cube of yellow glass.” I know the feeling. Told in a series of 80 short prose poems by local performer Mar Bucknell with live soundscapes by Allan Boyd and projected live drawings by Stuart Reid. In Limbspeak, WAAPA’s Michael Whaites and guest choreographers present new works in which physical and verbal mingle.

And this one on the complexities of internet criticism: Apocalypse Perth. “In January 2008 a cruel and anonymous review of an amateur production was posted online. What followed was an online exchange of observations, criticisms, insults and invective.” Based on the online forum and interviews with those who took part, Apocalypse Perth is a verbatim theatre piece brought to the stage by seasoned performers Kate and Jeremy Rice joined by a large cast. In another apparent oddity, Martin Heine Performance entails simultaneous projection of a series of collaborative performances generated by Dr Martin Heine and Dr David Bromfield, “creating an omnipresent, all powerful performance environment…Gaze as Heine cuts out the silhouette of Perth’s most hated art critic with his chainsaw. ” Better still, be there at KURB Gallery “when he does it live with an Elephant.” Possibly outrageous.

There are lots of mobile works to accost the unsuspecting with art from all angles: Street art adventures (The Trickster’s Bible); a portable confessional (Jen Jamieson’s The Booth); a Laser tagging gig with local artist Jeremm Lynch who worked with ANAT’s USA guest artists Graffiti Research Laboratory earlier this year, and CONTROLLED RIOT in which electro-punk Tomás Ford “is joined by an army of minions to conduct experiments in crowd control, and a frantic DIY on the night of the closing party.”

Silent Barrage is the culmination of six years of research by Phil Gamblen and Guy Ben-Ary (SymbioticA) contemplating the artistic and philosophical implications of an entity made of a “living brain” controlling a robot body. Silent Barrage presents “60 sculptural robotic objects, each responding to electric activity occurring in a living network of rat neurons, grown in a petri dish inside the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA.” For one night only Silent Barrage will be presented as an active public lab. Wear white.

The year’s festival poster features a small section of Rose Skinner’s Forbidden Garden installation commissioned by Artrage. Its “hyper-coloured psycho-popic landscape and zany assemblage of characters” induces visual hyperglycemia and aptly captures the promised mood of the festival, 25 years on and still raging. RT

RealTime issue #87 Oct-Nov 2008 pg. 55

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2008
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