Spanning a democratic dinner party to a near death experience, a dog dancing competition to an unlikely collaboration between mother and son, the May 2018 Next Wave Festival program brings together artists and audiences to share courageous stories that are told in ways that only the Festival can.
Now in its 34th year, Next Wave continues to blaze a trail across the country’s arts industry, crafting unique learning programs and presentation opportunities for artists that reflect a commitment to social and cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and inclusion.
Across the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung lands of the Kulin nation in Melbourne, 31 world premiere productions will span 18 days of evocative experiences that question memories of the past, explore the turbulence of today and determine challenges of the future.
Fifteen projects in the 2018 festival have been developed through Kickstart Helix, Next Wave’s flagship development program. A unique opportunity for Australian artists to not only present brand-new work, but to access the money, time and space required by young artists to develop ambitious projects and build a professional foundation in the arts into the future.
From printmakers, curators, installation artists and zine makers through to practitioners working in Islamic decorative arts, queer performance and radical alter-egos, the selected participants represent a diverse cross-section of identities and artistic practices operating in Australia today.
“At a moment that feels more divided than ever, this Festival captures the unsettled mood of our times,” said Next Wave Director and CEO, Georgie Meagher on her second program. “It is full of energetic conversations and interrogations that play out in both earnest and light-hearted ways, with important moments of release from that intensity, with our keynote project Ritual, and a lot of parties.”
Ritual is the central pin in the 2018 program. Set to the rhythm of the sun, emerging artists and audiences are invited to pay respect to country and elders with a free event held at a different location every day of the festival. With a different performer leading the celebration daily, Ritual is born from a desire to create pockets of time and space for people to take a moment from their busy lives to connect, strengthen and reflect.
The gamut of performances includes: Crunch Time by Brisbane theatre artist Nathan Sibthorpe – a democratic dinner party where diners live vote on each ingredient used in a meal prepared by local leaders; and from one eating experience to another, domestic dinner drama turns tech-rave apocalypse in a searing indictment on our digital dependencies in Lifestyle of the Richard and Family by Sydney theatre maker Harriet Gillies.
As climate change continues to wreak havoc on the planet, Perth collaborators Alex Tate and Olivia Tartaglia bring ecoanxiety into sharp view in Bureau of Meteoranxiety – a live art experience that offers the audience coping strategies to help stay above the metaphorical and literal flood line. Meanwhile, Greenroom Award-nominated Melbourne theatre makers Zak Pidd and Charles Purcell present Apokalypsis – a high octane theatrical flipbook performance of 100 historical disasters in 60 minutes.
Victoria based performance makers Kerensa Diball and Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez expose their candid responses to the pressures of being a good woman, a bad mother and the idea of being a mother at all in Baby Cake; and from the beginning of life to something gravely darker, House of Vnholy presents SEER – a poetic interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story Shadow – a Parable navigates the depths of the theatre in a stark and intimate experience for just one person at a time.
Performance collective Embittered Swish return to the stage with Estrogenesis – an interrogation of contemporary transgender realities that uncovers the politics of shame, control and transformation; while independent creator of Kalkadoon heritage Joshua Pether presents Jupiter Orbiting – a dance based sci-fi adventure that explores perceptions of mental health and our capacity for empathy.
Award-winning collective Slown, Smallened & Son present a dance of bodies, words and women in Lady Example – a performance that takes an exquisite stocktake of history to propose a feminine future; in Shimmer of the Numinous professional dancer Harrison Ritchie-Jones and his theatrically untrained mother Jen unite on a journey to celebrate their 24-year relationship while challenging the function of dance.
Multi-disciplinary artist Danielle Reynolds embarks on a humorous but sincere investigation into the world of freestyle dog dancing in Canine Choreography – a sensitive exploration of the motives behind this peculiar but heartfelt pursuit; while dance collaborators Ellen Davies and Alice Heyward present Future City Inflatable – a choreographic nod to the radical architecture movements of the 1960s and 1970s that is both immersive and spectacular.
Melbourne performance artist and writer Rosie Isaac undertakes an examination of how the legal system infiltrates social, political and biological structures in Intestine in My Eye; while South Australian performance prodigy Taree Sansbury presents mi:wi – an arresting dance-based work that speaks to the impact of climate change on ways of life and the importance of culture being passed onto future generations;
Selina Thompson presents salt. – an ancestry fuelled story of grief that retraces the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle; and rounding off the performance program, Sydney collective Black Birds presents Exhale – an uplifting work that astutely dissects the female Black and Brown experience in Australia and highlights the ability to heal through storytelling.
A selection of solo and curated exhibitions includes: Bloodlines – Sancintya Mohini Simpson shares experiences of indentured labour by women taken from South India to South Africa during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in a poignant story told through Indian miniature paintings with sound, video and prose; while multi-disciplinary artist Roberta Rich presents M/other Land – an exploration of her and her family’s diasporic African identity prior to, during and after South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Josh Muir and Adam Ridgeway adopt the ancient wisdom of First Peoples to cut through illusion and wake us up from the civilised psychosis that is modern living in Not Good Place – taking over two sites with a combination of sculpture, projection and sound;
Migration and the refugee experience are viewed from profound perspectives as artist and award-winning poet Elyas Alavi presents an exhibition that combines artefacts, poetry and music designed to paint a rich and moving portrait of the Afghan Hazara refugee community in Daydreamer Wolf.
In tracing transcendence, Shireen Taweel charts the history of the sacred sites and prayer spaces left behind by Islamic cameleers that resonate in today’s contemporary Muslim Australia via an installation of copper, light and sound; and in the second instalment of roving documentary On the Border of Things, artist James Nguyen and his fruit picker Uncle Ai take off on a road trip that delves into Ai’s ongoing struggle with the idea of being a “good new Australian” some 30 years after fleeing Vietnam.
Curiously journeying beyond first impressions, Luke Duncan King’s illuminating exhibition I am a… shares insights into the culture and history of Melbourne’s deaf community in an attempt to break down barriers and reframe mainstream perspectives; and Sydney based sculptor and film-maker Athena Thebus brings together her blood and “chosen” family to traverse notions of queerness, Catholicism and Filipina femininity in Deep Water Dream Girl.
Melbourne-based curator and writer Amelia Winata presents Wayfind – an investigation into the political and social connotations inherent in our architecture, featuring a series of commissions by Australian artists; and Great Movements of Feeling curated by Zara Sigglekow examines the sometimes messy, always fascinating politics of emotion in a discursive exhibition led by a team of artists who will reinforce art’s very significance within civic life.
Bringing the festival to a close in true collaborative style, interdisciplinary artists Lucreccia Quintanilla and Caroline Garcia join forces to harness sound, performance, movement and community in a block party like no other with BARRIO // BARYO SOUND SYSTEM.
Next Wave continues to set the industry standard with a focus on accessibility that ensures a program inclusive of both artists and audiences with disability. An invitation to revel in shared stories, make memories and reflect on the world in all its calamitous uncertainty, Next Wave Festival 2018 gives marginalised voices the chance to be heard.
Companion and Carer card tickets will be available once again and many events across the program will include opportunity for tactile tours, audio description, audio notes, Auslan interpreting, assistive learning, open captioning and relaxed performances.
The 2018 Next Wave Festival runs 3 – 20 May. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.nextwave.org.au for details.
Image: Josh Muir and Adam Ridgeway, Not Good Place (supplied)