Melbourne's Blockbuster Citywide Arts Festival Rising Will Finally Make Its Proper Debut This June

COVID might have crushed the festival's dreams two years in a row, but it's ready and raring for 2022 with a huge 12-day program featuring 225 events and 800-plus artists.
Libby Curran
Published on March 17, 2022

If it's true that the things that don't kill you only serve to make you stronger, we can all expect Melbourne's Rising festival to come out fighting fit for its long-awaited premiere run this year. After COVID-19 unravelled its planned 2020 debut, then returned to cancel all but opening night of its 2021 program, the blockbuster citywide multi-arts festival will this year, finally, get its moment. As announced today, Rising is set to descend on Melbourne from Wednesday, June 1–Sunday, June 12.

Determined to make this third time a charm, the festival is delivering a hefty, carefully-honed program of art, music and performance. "Overall, we're expecting one million people to experience Rising across 225 events, with over 800 artists involved," festival co-director Gideon Obarzanek tells Concrete Playground.

Over 12 days and nights, those artists will transform the streets and spaces of Melbourne into their canvases and stages, serving up a diverse, supersized culture fix to kickstart winter. With borders reopened, a stack more international names have been able to join the bill, too.

The Wilds, 2021

While the program has evolved and morphed since last year, some of its key experiences are built on return concepts. "The Wilds and Golden Square are the two big pillar pieces," explains co-director Hannah Fox. "But a lot of the content within those projects is new."

The Wilds will return to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, this time dishing up a fluorescent-tinged fusion of art, sound and flavour courtesy of renowned New York-based Aussie artists Tin & Ed. It'll play host to performances, quirky large-scale structures, and an ice-skating rink beating to the sound of 80s and 90s bangers.

Exceptional eats here include snacks from the likes of 1800 Lasagne and Smith & Daughters, and a 'glowing glasshouse bistro' manned by celebrated chefs David Moyle, Jo Barrett and Matt Stone.

Paul Yore's 2018 work 'It's All Wrong But It's Alright'. Credit Rémi Chauvin.

Golden Square will again transform a multi-storey Chinatown carpark into a vibrant, sensorial art park, featuring parades, rooftop bars and a compelling site-wide exhibition from artists like Paul Yore, Scotty So, Atong Atem and Jason Phu.

Patricia Piccinini's otherworldy exhibition A Miracle Constantly Repeated will continue its popular run, gracing the Flinders Street Ballroom until the festival's end on June 12.

Leading audio-visual artist Robin Fox is also creating a mesmerising laser and sound work, Monochord, that will beam one kilometre along the Yarra each night. And, thanks to Keith Courtney, one of the folks behind House of Mirrors and 1000 Doors, a 20-metre-long kaleidoscopic labyrinth will invite attendees to immerse themselves in a playground of mazes and light.

Robin Fox's work MONOCHORD

Gig-starved music-lovers can expect a smorgasbord of sonic delights throughout the fest, as international names like Moses Sumney, Welsh electro star Kelly Lee Owens and the multi-talented Andy Shauf join homegrown talent including renowned drummer Jim White, Tkay Maidza, Harvey Sutherland and the legendary Sampa the Great.

Meanwhile, a diverse program of dance performances will share stories from around the world, with unmissable works from the likes of Stephanie Lake Company, Denmark's Mette Ingvartsen, Indonesian choreographer Rianto and Uruguay's Tamara Cubas.

Legendary text-based artist Jenny Holzer will transform a 19th-century building facade with her six-storey projection work I CONJURE, too — and for The Invisible Opera, the constant buzz of Federation Square will be mapped in real-time, creating an immersive multi-disciplinary performance piece.

Tkay Maidza

Jurrungu ngan-ga (meaning 'straight talk') explores refugee detention and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody via a captivating, culture-bridging dance performance by the Marrugeku crew. Plus, the return of the famed Melbourne Art Trams will showcase six trams emblazoned with designs by First Peoples artists, alongside a reproduction of the 1991 tram work by acclaimed artist, painter and sculptor Lin Onus.

And, nodding to one of the city's greatest sporting loves, there's the work that has Hannah Fox most excited, Still Lives. "It's a performance we commissioned back in 2020, which is now going to take place in the NGV, in the Great Hall," the festival director explains. "It's essentially two artists, Luke George and Daniel Kok, who are working with five retired AFL players to suspend them in rope bondage from the ceiling… in the form of an iconic mark from the AFL's history. Yeah, I'm very excited for that."

Rising will run from Wednesday, June 1–Sunday, June 12 at venues and public spaces across Melbourne. Presale tickets are available from 12pm on Monday, March 21, with regular tickets selling from 12pm on Friday, March 25.

Published on March 17, 2022 by Libby Curran
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