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By Meg Watson
March 08, 2014
By Meg Watson
March 08, 2014

Good things are coming in big packages these days. White Night devoured the CBD whole last month, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is right around the corner, and in the meantime we've been offered up the very first Festival of Live Art — a behemoth of a thing bustling with new and exciting work that closes the increasingly ambiguous gap between art and theatre.

In a joint venture between Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre, the festival will take place at multiple venues over the two-week period, and better yet: most events are free. Take a look at the program and plan your full experience, or drift in and out of the events listed below. If you're up for a challenge, get stuck into the whole list — a decathlon of sorts (for us artsy types).

Filibuster of Dreams: Sarah Rodigari

So Melbourne Now may have late-night art, but Arts House is bringing you a sleepover. From 11pm on Saturday, March 22 till 9am the following morning, Sydney artist Sarah Rodigari will be taking a leaf out of Wendy Davis's book by performing an awe-inspiring filibuster. No, it might not be all kick-ass lady power and reproductive rights, but it will surely be a thing of beauty as Rodigari talks about love, loss, honour and hope. Cheer her on through the fatigue and BYO blankets and pillows.

March 22 - 23; Arts House; FREE.

Art and the Body

People do crazy things in the name of live art. They nail their testicles to roads in Russia, sew their own mouths shut, and get people to shoot them point blank. There's a reason artists have a reputation for insanity. But it's not all that often we talk about it in a cohesive way. Why does this happen, what is it for, and is there a future in it? Artists Moira Finucane, Natalie Abbott, Casey Jenkins and Stelarc will be joined in discussion with Julieanne Pearce at The Wheeler Centre for a debate on the topic. Finally, we have the chance to ask: was this really worth it?

March 18; The Wheeler Centre.; FREE.

Drift: Julie Vulcan

Like most FoLA events, Drift is less an artwork and more of an experience. Described as "a space for contemplation," the work itself is a dark room full of "twinkling single vessels" that offer audience members a space of tentative refuge. The work is then accompanied by music from Sydney-based creative Ashley Scott — a composition equal parts soothing and brooding that provides soundtrack to a work with obvious but important political undertones.

March 21 - 23; Arts House; FREE.

Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model

It's safe to say Bryony Kimmings is not a fan of Miley Cyrus. In an attempt to undermine the sexualisation and commodification of childhood, this British performance artist and her niece Taylor dreamt up a new role model — "a dinosaur-loving, bike-riding, tuna-pasta-eating pop star" — and sought to make her world famous. The piece was a phenomenon in the UK garnering attention from the likes of Amanda Palmer and Yoko Ono, and now the stage show acts as a kind of dynamic analysis. Did it work? Was it necessary? Where do we go from here?

March 25 - April; Theatre Works; $25 - $32.

Live Art Dance Party

So you've spent a week or so with your brian in overdrive. Artists are raising important issues and their work is embarking on new frontiers — time to forget about all of that and get your body involved in the process. This one-night event is exactly what it sounds like. Artists, DJs, and performers such as Ash Keating, Robin Fox, and Sisters Grimm will be cutting loose in the belly of the beast at Arts House with a sensory mash-up of art, lasers and good tunes. If you were looking for an opportunity to break out that sequinned leotard or acid green feather boa, this might well be it.

March 22, Arts House, $15.

Habobas House: Alia Gabres

A lot of live art is about finding magic in the ordinary. Fittingly, in this piece, performance poet Alia Gabres takes you into her grandmother's house for an authentic and affecting experience — some coffee from her homeland and a good story. Like the aforementioned Drift and recent work Cherry, Cherry: A Dining Room Tale there's a definite focus on multiculturalism and migration — Alia herself was a child of migration and her family has an important story to tell. Being in such a personal space also carries an understandable gravitas and while there, audiences will be encouraged to take part in "sensory exploration and writing exercises" to unearth the ritual importance of their own stories.

March 14 - 15; Henderson House, Artist Studio, Footscray Community Arts Centre; $15 - $20.

Game Show: Tristan Meecham & Aphids

Tristan Meecham has a reputation for grand theatrics, and this — one of the most talked about acts of the festival — is no exception. In Game Show, Meecham is quite literally giving away all of his personal possessions. Really. Each night, 50 contestants will compete in a game show (orchestrated and hosted by Meecham himself) in order to win his television, his CDs, and even his car. The second instalment of his Coming Out Trilogy, Game Show belongs to a series of works that explore and undermine grandeur (the first work, Fun Run, consisted of Meecham running a marathon on an on-stage treadmill at the 2013 Sydney Festival). An unsettling combination of entertainment and distress, Game Show is set to be an apt critique on materialism and competitiveness (and you might just win some free stuff in the process).

March 19 - 22; Arts House; $20 - $25.

Tawdry Heartburn's Manic Cures: James Berlyn

Like a terrifying real-life Post Secret, Perth artist James Berlyn is about to ask a whole lot from his audience. In a free, 20-minute one-on-one performance, Berlyn will act as manicure professional Tawdry Heartburn and ask you to divulge all your well-kept secrets. Terrifically cathartic yet horribly scary, your secret will then be added to an ever-expanding collection on public display at Arts House. This one isn't for those not fond of audience participation, although there is the option to submit secrets anonymously during the festival or in an online component. Thank God for the internet.

March 21 - 23; Arts House; FREE.

Performprint: Joel Gailer and Michael Meneghetti

Performprint is the festival's finest offering of the traditional extreme strain of live art. In a ten-hour durational work Gailer and Meneghetti will do everything from give printmaking lectures to perform a live branding on the former's skin. Of course, with a work so long it's hard to make any hard and fast judgment calls but the artists claim their main focus will be on masculinity and reproduction. Joel Gailer is in fact a printmaker by trade and will explore the intricacies and issues of Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes with the help of a Harley Davidson, a skateboard, and two warring live bands. Turn up any time in the day and make of it what you will.

March 23; Arts House; FREE.

24 Hour Experience

If a ten-hour work wasn't enough for you, this work goes the whole hog. Over 24 hours, 24 live works will take place in various locations around the city. That's right — it's double the fun (and half the crowds) of White Night. Check the website for a full list of shows or just head along and stumble across something great. Think of it as a closing night extravaganza.

March 29 - 30; Various locations; $20 per show, $95 for a 12-hour pass, or $180 for a 24-hour ticket.

The Festival of Live Art runs from March 14 - 30. For more information including session times and ticketing, check the website.

Published on March 08, 2014 by Meg Watson


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