RISING Just Revealed the Stacked 185-Event Arts Program It's Bringing to Melbourne This June

More than 400 artists will help bring this year's citywide fest to life, serving up 12 days of visual art, culture, music, performance and food.
Libby Curran
Published on March 14, 2023

If the waning summer temperatures have got you feeling frosty about the cooler months to come, here's something that'll warm up your outlook again. Melbourne's major citywide arts festival RISING is back and it promises to be the bright spark in Victoria's winter, unveiling the blockbuster 185-event program it's bringing to town from Wednesday, June 7–Sunday, June 18.

RISING's 2023 instalment is set to be a monumental affair, assembling more than 400 artists for almost two jam-packed weeks of art, culture, music, performance and culinary goodness. There are 35 works commissioned exclusively for the festival and an impressive 12 world premieres set to hit.

Alongside the already-announced Euphoria, which will take over Melbourne Town Hall with an immersive multi-screen film installation starring Cate Blanchett, the program is filled with a hefty and diverse array of happenings.

Euphoria by Katja Illner.

Large-scale events abound, not least of which is Shadow Spirit — a showcase of First Peoples-led projects across the realms of art, performance, music, food and more. Put together by renowned Yorta Yorta writer and curator Kimberley Moulton, it'll grace the legendary space above Flinders Street Station for eight weeks, displaying major works from artists like Brian Robertson (Maluyligal/Wuthathi), Karla Dickens (Wiradjuri), Vicki Couzens (Keerray Wooroong/Gunditjmara), Paola Balla (Wemba Wemba/Gunditjmara) and more.

At Federation Square, a mass participatory work by composer Ciaran Frame will feature 10,000 biodegradable kazoos played simultaneously by eager locals, while Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde's SPARK takes the form of a wondrous floating light show, animating thousands of 'fireflies' crafted from biodegradable materials.

Festival hub Night Trade takes over the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral for the duration, coming to life with super-sized surrealist art from Poncili Creción, performances from the likes of Debby Friday and London DJ ESA, hawker-style dining by Free to Feed and even a smattering of drag karaoke.

Paola Balla

Head inside the cathedral to experience Anthem — an equally majestic installation of sound and video courtesy of singer Beverly Glenn-Copeland and artist Wu-Tsang, which comes to Melbourne fresh from the Guggenheim.

RISING's ice-skating rink will be reborn bigger than ever, this time perched at Birrarung Marr, set beneath an installation of luminous orbs, and complemented by a wintery offering of mulled wine, hot chocolates and popcorn.

Music lovers of all persuasions will be kept busy with RISING's sonic lineup, spanning everyone from bass legend Thundercat and Afrofuturist pioneer Flying Lotus to UK punk icons The Damned and hit US singer-songwriter Weyes Blood — and Ruth Radelet from Chromatics, too, performing her first-ever solo show.

The Rink by Shannyn Higgins.

Uncle Kutcha Edwards is assembling an all-star lineup of First Nations talent for Waripa, Paul Kelly will take his mix-tape album Drinking live to the stage for two shows at Melbourne Recital Centre, and Japanese composer Cornelius joins Shintaro Sakamoto for a double bill at The Forum.

The program is brimming with theatre and dance, too, including two Australian Ballet commissions by Daniel Riley and Alice Topp, Florentina Holzinger's famously unsettling body-horror ballet Tanz — while she's in Australia for Dark Mofo as well — and a deep-dive into the history of alternative Aussie tunes with Robyn Archer: an Australian Songbook.

And, it features sound work Consort of the Moon, a communal listening experience by twilight at Fitzroy Gardens — plus Buŋgul, with live Yolŋu dancers and songmen celebrating the inspiration behind Dr G Yunupiŋu's album Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow).

Meanwhile, catch Hear My Eyes give the Robert Pattinson-starring Good Time the live score treatment, then check out a 20-strong flock of three-metre-tall wallabies in a technicolour work by Archibald Prize finalist Matthew Clarke. You can also see Chapter House transformed into an ever-evolving living museum celebrating Haitian street culture, and take to the high seas with all-ages First Nations comedy Hide the Dog. Plus, you'll soon spot six striking new First Peoples artworks rolling through the city for the latest instalment of Melbourne Art Trams.

Hide the Dog by Pat Stevenson.

RISING will descend on venues and spaces across Melbourne from Wednesday, June 7–Sunday, June 18. For the full program and to sign up for pre-sale, see the website.

Published on March 14, 2023 by Libby Curran
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