Started in 2007, Underbelly Arts is the festival weekend that's a fortnight, that's a biennial. Probably Sydney's leading event for fresh interdisciplinary and interactive art, it is better known to audiences as those big days of playtime on atmospheric Cockatoo Island. But Underbelly Arts doesn't spend two years sleeping; it uses that time to foster the development of new work, a lot of which has come to fruition by festival time.
The festival is divided into two crucial parts. Following the week-long Lab, which brought visitors onto the island to see the works in progress and be art guinea pigs, the second part — the Festival weekend — is on. It consists of two days of performances, art and adventure for the visiting public, held on August 3 and 4. The same works are on each day, although the Saturday is augmented by talks and panels by day and parties by night, while the Sunday adds some kid-friendly activities to the schedule.
The Art Workers make reference to Chaplin’s Modern Times in Art Work, and Abdul Abdullah and brother Abdul-Rahman explore their past Bankstown digs in Project HOME. Art Month 2013 co-curators Penelope Benton and Alexandra Clapham will unpack Tableau Vivant, the latest incarnation of their ongoing art dining projects; Applespiel will weave alternative takes on the idea of 'history', the adjective 'true' and the place 'Cockatoo Island'; while Andrew Burrell and Chris Rodley channel Jonathan Harris for Everything is Going to Be Okay 🙂
Brixels revitalises the idea of Breakout, as well as the idea of playing Breakout on a wall, Nothing to See Here reshapes the city’s landmarks with ideas from an unbuilt Holocaust memorial, while the Lot engage with Cockatoo Island’s landmarks in Mammoth: the Anti-Artifact Project.
Tickets are on sale now. The Festival sold out last time around and, all in all, it's an even bigger lineup in 2013.
Read more about eight pioneering Underbelly Arts projects in our feature.
By Zacha Rosen and Rima Sabina Aouf. Image by Prudence Upton.