Festival wrap-up: FOLA

Posted by Thom Smyth, March 27th, 2014

What is ‘live art’? It’s a contentious term that has been applied to works from a broad swathe of cross art form contemporary practice. So it’s a daunting task to attempt to answer that question, and even more so to curate a Festival of Live Art. Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre took on the challenge, with a massive three-week program from across the world. The question wasn’t answered for us, but we (Thom and Fiona) found it was well worth trying.

We hit FOLA – Melbourne’s inaugural Festival of Live Art – in week two, when it had taken over the whole of Arts House, converting the North Melbourne Town Hall and the nearby Meat Market into a playground of live performance. James Berlyn was suited up and manning Tawdry’s typewriters, ready for the secrets Melbourne had to offer, having already hosted the Silent Drag Booth of Berlyn earlier in the week.fola5

The works we saw:

Sam Halmarack (UK) | Sam Halmarack & The Miserablites

An adorable take on audience participation, ably facilitated by our stranded band frontman and a suitably daggy “instructional” video work. Took the audience on the journey.

 

Tristan Meecham | Game Show

Putting his life’s possessions on the line for the live “studio audience”, Tristan Meecham as our host led selected contestants through several gruelling challenges to find the ultimate winner. Large scale and ambitious.

 

triage live art collective & Nicola Gunn | Live Art Escort Service

Fiona procured the assistance of Nicola Gunn to ponder the big artistic question of the festival – What is live art? – while being led outside and down surrounding dark laneways. Peering in on the lives of others through open windows, definitions of live art melted away into shared experience.

 

Sam Routledge & Martyn Coutts | I Think I Can

This Perth Festival favourite called the North Melbourne Town Hall home for the week, laying down the model railway for locals to bring the miniature world to life. Fiona’s Giant Man arrived in town as a political appointment as Acting Police Inspector, only to spring into action to save a Giant Woman being threatened by a vampire on the hotel roof…

 

Julie Vulcan | Drift

Entering a contemplative space of twinkling lights and tentative refuge, we were greeted with an inflatable flotilla of “vessels” where you could curl up against the ravages of the outside world. Travellers remained for such a long time we both missed out on the trip.

 

Malcolm Whittaker | Ignoramus Anonymous

An interactive support group for the ignorant. Is there something you are too ashamed to admit that you don’t know? The sort of thing everyone would scoff at? Ignoramus Anonymous is here to help. Thom’s group were both forthcoming with their knowledge gaps and with their answers, Fiona’s group…not so much.

 

Paul Gazzola | Gold Coin Series

Three works spread across the Town Hall and Meat Market spaces, Paul Gazzola encouraged us to questions our notions of value, worth, and what you truly think a dollar is worth.

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Ranters Theatre | I Know That I Am Not Dead (created by Beth Buchanan)

Fiona was the first audience member to enter Beth’s tent on a first floor balcony at Arts House and spend 20 minutes discussing sleep and not sleeping – one on one. The blankets were cosy, the thermos was full of hot peppermint tea, the conversation convivial.

 

Emma Beech | Life is Short and Long

A work in development, this facilitated conversation about what we know, how we feel, and how we were affected by the Global Financial Crisis morphed into a conversation about coping with crisis more broadly. Fascinating conversation, and Thom got into the snacks.

 

Mish Grigor | Man O Man

Part performance, part town hall meeting, post’s Mish Grigor joined forces with a team of local female writers to script letters to be read on the final night of the Patriarchy. On hearing the beautifully and hilariously crafted arguments for and against, participants were invited to vote on whether the male tyranny should prevail. The performance also included lamingtons. Lots of them.

 

Live Art Dance Party

Curated by Arts House, this was a hit and miss celebration of different works, crossing art forms, boundaries and taste levels. Sisters Grimm and The Town Bikes were highlights.

 

Sarah Rodigari | A Filibuster of Dreams

While many were sleeping off the effects of a Saturday night, Sarah Rodigari was delivering a mammoth ten hour durational performance reciting well-wishes submitted by audience members to their fellow Melbournites.

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Amy Spiers & Catherine Ryan | Nothing To See Hear (Dispersal)

Appropriating the techniques of riot squads and police units, patrons were steered away from the “performance space”, breaking and reforming their crowds. Fiona was a peaceful objector, and got covered in ‘Nothing to See Here’ tape for her disobedience. A stand out experience provoking self-reflection and meditation on freedom of choice.

 

Fragment31 / Leisa Shelton | Mapping

What are the key touch points and experiences you’ve had with live art in Australia? This work seeks to map the collective memory of all participants.  Stage One of a longer project, Leisa reported early results were showing a flurry of Perth-based projects. Stage Two will build an archive and invite us to step back and see what it looks like.


James Berlyn: This week Melbourne, next week…

Posted by Fiona de Garis, April 15th, 2013

Words: Fiona de Garis, Producer

Like all independent artists, James is constantly juggling projects.

This week Melbourne’s Artplay is full of colourful new artworks. Today James Berlyn is bumping out his collection of splatterpaults and stencil stompers after four days of SPLAT! workshops.  Judging by the photos, this may well have been the messiest Artplay event this year – it also looks like loads of fun. If you are in Melbourne stop by Birrarung Marr and see the resulting exhibition from tomorrow until May 5 – and have a go at the DIY stencilling station.

SPLAT! was originally commissioned by Awesome Arts and is presented in Melbourne by Artplay, a place where families and children can be creative and express themselves in an open and supportive environment.

In a couple of months James will be pulling out his typewriters heading East again. This time he will collect the secrets of Adelaide Cabaret Festival goers as Tawdry Heartburn’s Manic Cures manifests in the Winter Garden 12-16 and 19-22 June.
Visit www.tawdryheartburn.com  to view the secrets archive from Tawdry’s past performances.

But it isn’t only about new life for past shows. James is working on two new productions which we hope to bring you before the year is out. Stay tuned.

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