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 that one big day 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, which you can now sample.
The festival is divided into two crucial parts. The second part — the Festival weekend — consists of two days of performances, art and adventure for the visiting public. But before that, you're also invited to the first part — the Lab — where you can see the artists put their work together, workshop, test and reassess their ambitions for the festival itself. The Lab runs July 24–31 and is free, with tours kicking off daily at 3pm.
All the artists will have something to show, but one surely worth seeking out during the Lab is Warren Armstrong's Forms of Thought. Using a 3D printer in combination with sensors attached to your head to, yes, print out your thoughts, it's the kind of installation you'll have trouble getting close to at the Festival but might actually get to try at the Lab. Similarly, this is a good chance to examine Michaela Davies' Game On, which will let the audience control involuntary boxers being moved through electric muscle stimulation.
The Festival weekend on August 3 and 4 is ticketed, and tickets are on sale now. The Festival sold out last time around and, all in all, it's an even bigger lineup 2013.
Read more about eight pioneering Underbelly Arts projects in our feature.
By Zacha Rosen and Rima Sabina Aouf. Image by Dylan Tonkin.