Now or Never's Second Huge Year Will Close Out Winter 2024 in Melbourne with More Than 100 Events

From live music in the Royal Exhibition Building to an audiovisual installation above the Yarra, this year's lineup is full of highlights.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 20, 2024

Winter in Melbourne in 2024 began with a festival, with RISING getting June started with everything from music-fuelled block parties to 24-hour movie marathons. Winter in Melbourne in 2024 will also end with a fest when Now or Never makes its big return in mid-to-late August. After proving a hit with its mix of tunes, performances, installations, talks and more in 2023, its inaugural year, this City of Melbourne-presented celebration will again fill the Victorian capital with creativity. Clear your calendar now — you've got more than 100 different events to attend.

Now or Never already locked in its dates and theme earlier in the year. Whether you're a Melburnian or an interstater looking for an excuse for a getaway, you'll have plenty to do across Thursday, August 22–Saturday, August 31. And, with help from 250-plus local and international talents, you'll be getting revelling with the concept 'look through the image' — so, honing in on imagination, emotions and contemplation — firmly in mind. A recurring idea among 2024's Now or Never events is peering beyond the surface, as reflected in a lineup that's jam-packed full of deep cuts.

While 2023's fest saw Melbourne's historic Royal Exhibition Building host its first large-scale live music performances in over 20 years, 2024's will return to the venue for four nights of tunes and audiovisual projections that aim to leave a big impression. Eartheater, Sandwell District, Erika De Casier, Ben Frost, Naretha Williams, Clark and DJ Donato Dozzy are all on the bill, as is the Australian debut of COUCOU CHLOE.

Still on Aussie premieres, DESASTRES from Marco Fusinato falls into that category, heading Down Under after first appearing at the Venice Biennale 2022 across a 200-day run. For just two days in Melbourne, audiences will be peering at the world's largest LED volume screen for virtual production at NantStudios in Docklands cinema studios for this experimental noise performance project, which synchronises its guitar sounds with imagery. It's both a solo performance and an installation.

Across Thursday–Sunday nights during the festival, Joanie Lemercier will unveil Constellations above the Yarra River. This free AV installation projects lights to form shapes in the air, focusing on the cosmos, as accompanied by a soundscape by producer Paul Jebansam.

Similarly at the right price for everyone's wallets, the also-free Silent Symphony and Present Shock II hail from London's United Visual Artists. The first features Frost's compositions as part of celestial patterns given a sonic interpretation, in a piece that will never repeat. The second boasts a score by Massive Attack's Robert Del Naj with Robert Thomas, and is all about confronting a realm where alternative facts and post-truths now dwell.

At ACMI — and also presented by the Melbourne International Film Festival — the free world-premiere kajoo yannaga (come on let's walk together) will take participants on an interactive virtual and gamified walk on Country that puts First Nations knowledge at the fore, all thanks to Wiradjuri Scottish artist April Phillips. Or, hovering above Melbourne Museum Plaza, get ready to experience Peder Bjurman's augmented-reality experience Slow Walker, which turns a microscopic organism into a floating giant.

Plagiary is another certain highlight, with dance technologist and choreographer Alisdair Macindoe joining forces with media artist Sam Mcgilp to create a new dance performance each night. Ten dancers will improvise, but it's a computer presence that'll tell them what to respond to.

Elsewhere on the lineup, Roxane Gay's latest trip to Australia is tied to discussing 2023 book Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People's Business; Melbourne's HTRK and Britain's Actress are teaming up for a single evening; and Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta and Nari Nari man Kutcha Edwards is in the spotlight at Wuigada — Gagada (To Sing — Loud), which makes its Victorian premiere. There's also MOUNTAIN, a dance performance with costumes by Akira Isogawa, plus mycologist Merlin Sheldrake chatting about fungi, if you needed more examples of how wide-ranging the 2024 program is.

Now or Never 2024 runs from Thursday, August 22–Saturday, August 31 around Melbourne — head to the festival website for further details.

Published on June 20, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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