Overview: Next Wave

Keith Gallasch

Visionary Images, Glowshow

Visionary Images, Glowshow

The best thing about the 2002 Next Wave festival is that it lives up to its name. It’s rich with a present tense sense of a confident culture (often defying the youth label with very adult responses to the world) but moreso of a future tense of possibilities and potential, most evident in the proliferation of multimedia, new media, sound and site works, with very few conventional artworks or performances in sight. This is a Next Wave springing from a coherent vision which is not surprising given Artistic Director David Young’s background as composer and creator of innovative multimedia music installations and performances.

The calibre of the some 70 programmed works ranged from the utterly raw (7, under-written, under-directed, but vigorously performed by Swinburne University Indigenous Arts Course students) to the half-cooked (Y-glam’s My Brother’s a Lesbian, a script with potential, some very good performances and a misleading title) to many that were consummately professional—eg Speak Percussion, Chris Brown’s Mr Phase, the excellent dance program at Horti Hall and many of the visual arts and new media works. This mix of standards is part of the festival’s character, as irritating as it can occasionally be, and is indicative of Next Wave as a testing ground, the festival as laboratory, working with the untried, the emerging and with communities venturing into the arts. Most of the works turn out well, for example, for example, Glowshow. The huge, internally lit inflatables spelling out Shipwrecked and Humanity, beside and across the Yarra, made for an impressively contemplative work from the Visionary Images team working with disadvantaged young people and artists. Risks are taken, the rewards are many.

This Next Wave was free, a significant gesture if you think about how expensive the arts are today, let alone the financial demands of forking out for numerous tickets for a festival. Bookings were largely taken online and a percentage of seats for performances kept available for walk-ups. It wasn’t long before the word was out and shows were packed, most notably the dance program and PrimeTime (a mix of serious and kitsch entertainments at North Melbourne Town Hall) but also the one night stand by Speak Percussion in a new music program. Next Wave staff and volunteers acquitted themselves admirably in handling the crowds.

There’s little to criticise about the 2002 Next Wave, but it does need to take a very serious look at is its opening ceremony. There was nothing about it that reflected its demographic or the works to follow over the next 10 days. Okay, there were Colony’s angels and the matching soundtrack with its young participants, but the speeches beforehand, delivered to a largely older audience, were dry and inherently patronising (how many times were the audience told to get out there and enjoy), directed at youth, for youth, but not of youth, but certainly of sponsors. In the same way festival also crucially lacks a physical centre, somewhere artists, media members and audiences can gather at any hour so that the works seen can be talked through, contacts made and future collaborations made possible.

RealTime was part of the 2002 Next Wave program. Editor Keith Gallasch worked from the Express Media (publisher of Voiceworks) office with a team of 9 writers (6 from Melbourne, 3 from Sydney) in their mid 20s to produce daily responses to festival works online and in limited print editions at festival venues. What follows are 45 responses to the festival from the RealTime-NextWave writing team (Ghita Loebenstein, Katy Stevens, Vanessa Rowell, Leanne Hall, Jaye Early, Clara Tran, Even Vincent and myself) and other contributors (Kate Munro, James Kane).

RealTime-NextWave is part of the 2002 Next Wave Festival.

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 4

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

1 June 2002
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