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Stephen Jones' hats: Jo Gordon, Kiss of death 1994, © V&A Images; Stephen Jones, © Justine Photography

Stephen Jones’ hats: Jo Gordon, Kiss of death 1994, © V&A Images; Stephen Jones, © Justine Photography

heady stuff: stephen jones’ hats

It’s not the Sydney media arts expert Stephen Jones, but someone even headier, a UK hat artist with a Brisbane-exclusive exhibition, Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones, visiting the Queensland Art Gallery from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The garden-like millinery exhibition includes 250 hats and head pieces ancient and modern including Jones’ own creations (Mick Jagger’s hat for the Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang World Tour) and a journey through the life of a hat. Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, Queensland Art Gallery, March 27– June 27; www.qag.qld.gov.au

blissful opera

Peter Carey’s Bliss, a grippingly strange novel, was unexpectedly and memorably adapted to the screen in Ray Lawrence’s film (1985), which upped the book’s 80s oz-surrealism. The bigger than life characters, situations and ideas lend themselves to opera just as well as film, though pulling off the more fantastical elements onstage will be an exciting challenge. We might though get a deeper feel for Harry Joy’s inner world, the kind offered by listening as much as looking. Brett Dean is an award-winning composer who manages to bridge accessibility and challenge, creating memorable themes and engaging textures. Peter Coleman-Wright will play Harry, Neil Armfield is directing and the libretto is by Amanda Holden. Opera Australia, Bliss, World Premiere, March 12-30, http://opera-australia.org.au

desperately hoping: stvdio arts channel

Ovation, better known these days as the Andre Rieu channel, has been taken over by SBS and re-named STVDIO. ABC TV’s revolution in arts & entertainment erred on the side of the latter with a plethora of comedian-led competition programs. There have been the occasional late Tuesday night art programs from Andrew Frost and Marcus Westbury and the quaint, numbing Sunday Arts show (now deceased), but little else. Cable subscribers are keeping their fingers crossed that STVDIO will provide recent documentaries and features alongside worthwhile classics with a broader and more challenging approach to the arts here and overseas than Ovation’s ever narrowing and repetitious ambit. STVDIO, from April 1.

genre-hopping: tiny stadiums festival

One of the more scintillating contemporary arts events of 2009 was the Tiny Stadiums Festival, revealing new talent and ideas about performance, installation and networking. Describing the event as “a contemporary arts festival of genre-hopping live art”, the Quarterbred team have “curated a program made up of accumulative and durational projects that design and redesign the village, your hankies and your hair.” And it’s mostly free.

There’ll be the unveiling of a miniature Erskineville—a fun critique of the village into which Tiny Stadiums is increasingly insinuating itself with performances, installations and screenings in shops, vacant lots and a pub. Tristram Meechams’ Back To Hair Technology promises that you’ll “walk a mile in a bald man’s head by receiving your very own bald cap.” On a different hair tack, hairdresser Jade Markham will style and curate buns in Bunhead. In Photo-Opp Melbourne-based artist Zoe Meagher will offer herself in Ken’s Cake Shop for endless photo opportunities with you as the photographer: “it’s the subject who is constant, eternally waiting for the fleeting photographer to appear and complete the image.” Parachutes for Ladies will test the conformity of mass dancing with you in The Dance of Death. If that makes you weep you’ll doubtless respond to Amy Spiers’ Sob Stories, on-hanky tales of public teariness. Melbourne based collective Tape Projects will present video art at the Rose Hotel. Tiny Stadiums is curated by Quarterbred, an artist run initiative, in residence at PACT. Erskineville Road shops, parks and PACT, Feb 22-March 7; www.pact.net.au

Eric Bridgeman Boi Boi The Labourer 2008 – 2009, part of Mind Games, ACP

Eric Bridgeman Boi Boi The Labourer 2008 – 2009, part of Mind Games, ACP

Eric Bridgeman Boi Boi The Labourer 2008 – 2009, part of Mind Games, ACP

mind games: other selves in the picture

ACP’s new show, Mind Games, is a potent mix of works from Papua New Guinea/Australia, South Korea, Japan and the UK focusing “on the psychology of play and the construction of identity.” The most immediately striking images come from Eric Bridgeman who himself performs The Sport and Fair Play of Aussie Rules, “a series of caricatures that parody and critique stereotypes of masculinity and femininity in both black and white Australian culture.” A recent graduate of the Queensland College of Art, Bridgeman has already exhibited widely, attracting attention for his 2007 series Blue-Colour Picture exploring his heritage in the Queensland mining town Cracow and blue-collar masculinity. The other artists in the show are Suk Kuhn Oh (South Korea), Toshie Takeuchi (Japan) and the Jackson Twins (UK) who “present a series of ironically melodramatic self-portraits that draw on the anxious fascination of pop culture with identical twins: cloning, doppelgangers, sibling rivalry, ESP and the notion of the evil other.” Australian Centre for Photography, Mind Games, Photography, Identity and Play, Sydney, Jan 29-March 6, http://tmp.acp.org.au

experimenta’s happy critique: utopia now

Experimenta’s big exhibitions, now cast as an international biennial of media art, have always had an optimistic aura, the result of a certain playfulness and hands-on opportunities for audiences that tally with their daily new media experiences. But this time the biennial is addressing the flaws in “the dream of a perfect world”, never an easy fantasy given the state of the world and the diminution of utopian thinking. However it looks like it’ll be a fun critique: “Pull up your leg warmers and bust a move with our interactive dance party in a box; become a sticky shadow magnet and lead a chorus of interactive singing plants; take sides as Australian and international artists unite and fall out over the future survival of the planet.”

Also on the program of 25 works from Australia, Japan, Austria, India, Germany, Canada, France, Taiwan and the UK are “the funkadelic International Dance Party, a complete party in a box which transforms from humble transport crate into a powerful party machine that increases its frantic output the harder and faster you dance; Akousmaflore, a hanging garden composed of living musical plants that react to human gesture and gentle contact; Shadow 3, an interactive installation where the by-products of our consumerist society fall from the sky like rain, inundating your shadow with a deluge of debris; and You Were in my Dream, an off-the-wall ‘choose your own adventure’ dreamscape where interacting with familiar fairytale characters draws you into an enchanted fractured forest. [R]enowned Japanese/American artist Momoyo Torimitsu performs with her life-size robotic businessman Miyata Jiro as he crawls his way commando-style through the CBD battlefield like so many before him.” Experimenta, Utopia Now, International Biennial of Media Art, Blackbox, The Arts Centre, Melbourne, Feb 12-March 14; www.experimenta.org

Kathkali Dance Ensemble, part of Womadelaide

Kathkali Dance Ensemble, part of Womadelaide

Kathkali Dance Ensemble, part of Womadelaide

womadelaide: classical indian rarity

An extremely rare opportunity presents itself in March to see classical Indian dance drama. The visiting Kerala Kalamandalam Dance Company will perform The Killing of Dushasana, a central episode of the Mahabhrata telling the story of rival families, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The work will be performed in traditional Kathakali style with 17 dancers, singers, actors, drummers and, not least, make-up artists. A centrepiece in the tense unfolding drama is Lord Krishna’s sermon on selfless action and the setting out of the concept of Dharma. If you can’t make it to Womadelaide there are one-off opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne. Womadelaide, Kathakali Dance Ensemble, Feb 6-7; www.womadelaide.com.au; Seymour Centre, Sydney, Thursday March 11; Melbourne Town Hall, Tuesday March 9

RealTime issue #95 Feb-March 2010 pg. 20

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

1 February 2010