Art Gallery of New South Wales reveals artist line-up for the inaugural Volume festival

Maissa-Alameddine-and-Hamed-Sadeghi-photo-by-Jordan-MunnsThe Art Gallery of New South Wales has revealed the next artist line-up for the inaugural Volume festival, featuring a massive free program of local and international live music, moving image works and dance performances over 17 days.

Running from 22 September to 8 October, Volume festival brings 86 trailblazing musicians – 52 Australian and 34 international – together in Sydney with boundary-pushing filmmakers and cutting-edge performers for more than 50 music, film and performance events, by day and night, across the Art Gallery’s new North and original South buildings.

The highlight of the free music program is North and South, an extraordinary two-night series of world premieres and new music commissions by renowned musicians including Akio Suzuki (Japan), Alexandra Spence (Australia), amby downs (Australia), Annea Lockwood (NZ/USA), David Shea (Australia/USA), David Toop (UK), Ellen Fullman (USA), Hiromi Miyakita (Japan), JG Thirlwell (Australia/USA), JWPaton (Australia), Lawrence English (Australia), Lisa Lerkenfeldt (Australia), Loren Mazzacane Connors (USA), Philip Samartzis (Australia), Primitive Motion (Australia), Saint Abdullah (Tehran/USA), Theresa Wong (USA), and Vanessa Tomlinson (Australia). North and South takes places on Wednesday 27 September and Wednesday 4 October, 5.00 -10.00pm.

Created in collaboration with composer, artist and curator Lawrence English (Room40), North and South features intergenerational performance, emerging Indigenous musicians and international senior career musicians presenting a showcase of exploratory sonic approaches, neo-classical forms and reductive electronics.

In addition to the music program, Volume features two major new art commissions that will transform the Tank through moving image, light, electronic music and dance, by mid-career Australian artists: Sydney dancer and choreographer Angela Goh and UK-based Australian filmmaker and artist Sam Smith.

Angela Goh’s Axe Arc Echo is a new 4-hour performance commission, curated by Art Gallery of NSW curator of contemporary art Lisa Catt, which takes audiences on an unflinching physical journey that perseveres against intense sonic forces and the vastness of the Tank itself.

A remarkable feat of distance and duration, Axe Arc Echo will transport viewers into a deep and strange realm, where they will witness the dancer as a traveller in an all-consuming environment created by Goh’s acclaimed collaborators, electronic producer and composer Corin Ileto and lighting designer Govin Ruben. Held on Saturday 7 October and Sunday 8 October at 11.00am – 4.00pm.

The Art Gallery’s first moving image commission for the Tank, Sam Smith’s A concave space, transforms the space into a futuristic, neon wetland featuring multiple, synchronised projections that spill across a 40-metre expanse. Curated by Art Gallery of NSW curator of film Ruby Arrowsmith-Todd and starring April Lin ?? as a beautiful and eerie sci-fi avatar, this immersive experience explores the Tank’s material history as a Second World War oil tank in light of the fossil-fuelled environmental crisis.

Expect shimmering visions of oil slicks, evocative incantations by acclaimed speculative writer Ama Josephine Budge and field recordings by Yuin artist and musician JWPATON, and underwater cinematography shot in collaboration with French artist Sonia Levy. Visitors can view A concave space from Saturday 23 September to Tuesday 26 September at 10am – 3.30pm and Friday 29 September to Thursday 5 October at 10am – 3.30pm.

Art Gallery of New South Wales deputy director and director of collections Maud Page said the free festival program will activate every corner of the Art Gallery when it launches next month.

“We are proud to announce the large and diverse free program for the inaugural Volume festival, featuring some of the most exciting names in contemporary music, film and performance,” said Page.

“It is extraordinarily special to have so many innovative artists, musicians and creatives from around the globe – spanning many artforms and genres – coming together to interact with our collection and the Tank in new and surprising ways.”

“Whether it’s an evening concert or spontaneous encounter, every visit to Volume will be memorable and unique,” said Page.

The energy of Volume will pulse through the Art Gallery with Tones, moves, strings, a three-part program featuring more than 40 intimate live music and dance performances by more than 35 artists from across Sydney and Australia that will pop up across the North and South buildings daily during Volume at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm from Saturday 23 September.

The Tones program (10.30am) features improvised music performances where solo musicians who work tonally with sound, engaging a range of instruments including brass, wind and voice, respond to a work from the Art Gallery’s collection. Musicians include Akio Suzuki, Ben Carey, Chloe Kim, Datu Arellano, David Toop, Jannah Quill, JWPATON, Kate Brown, Maissa Alameddine, Marcus Whale, Niki Johnson, Solomon Frank, Sonya Holowell, and Trevor Brown.

The Moves program (12.30pm), showcases performances that explore the Art Gallery’s architecture through improvisational movement and dance, by performers including Joel Bray, Eugene Choi, Katina Olsen, Luke Currie-Richardson, Martin del Amo, Raghav Handa, Rhiannon Newton, and Ryuichi Fujimara.

The Strings program (2.30pm) sees a solo musician who works with string instruments, including guitar, oudtar and cello, improvise alongside an artwork of their choosing. Artists include Candle Drum, Chris Dolman, Clayton Thomas, D.C Cross, Del Lumanta, David Shea, George Tillianakis, Hilary Geddes, Hamed Sadeghi, Helena Massey, Jeremy Nichols, Joji Malani, Joseph Tabua, Luke M de Zilva, and Seaworthy.

Yuwaalaraay musician, writer and storyteller, and one half of Australia’s beloved vocal duo Stiff Gins, Nardi Simpson will spend 10 days in residence at the Art Gallery as part of Sound, tracked, a residency program that will see her compose music in the Lewin Media Lab and perform a new work across various spaces in the North building daily at 3.45pm from Thursday 28 September to Friday 6 October.

Volume music program curator and Art Gallery of New South Wales music and community curator, Jonathan Wilson said the Volume program is the largest music program presented by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in its 152-year history.

“We are so pleased to bring together some of the world’s most innovative musicians, film makers and performers alongside our equally brilliant homegrown artists to present a range of unforgettable new experiences in surprising spaces across the Art Gallery,” said Wilson.

“The newly announced free festival program is overflowing with opportunities to experience the work of internationally acclaimed musicians, including senior artists Ellen Fullman and Annea Lockwood, alongside local Western Sydney musician JWPaton and Australian percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson, amongst so much more.”

Whether you are a music fan or simply curious to experience the Art Gallery and its collection in an entirely new way, there is something in the Volume program for you,” said Wilson.

Volume also includes a range of workshops, including Paper, Scissors, Shadow, a free, family-friendly hands-on shadow puppet making workshop with Indonesian visual artist Jumaadi, happening on 23, 24 and 30 September & 1 and 2 October.

The diverse free program adds to the recently announced ticketed music program taking place each weekend during the festival, which is headlined by American Grammy Award–winning R&B singer-songwriter and multidisciplinary artist Solange (SOLD OUT) and including award-winning Zambian musician, vocalist and rapper Sampa The Great, American songwriter and producer Mount Eerie, Dharawal and Inuk contemporary musician Sonya Holowell and many more.

Volume is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW’s Blockbusters Funding initiative and strategic sponsor Destination NSW.

Volume Festival takes place at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 22 September to 8 October 2023. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Maissa Alameddine and Hamed Sadeghi – photo by Jordan Munns