RISING – a festval three years in the making, opens today. Victoria’s newest major event commences its first uninterrupted, full program of music, art, performance and ceremony that will reawaken and reconnect the city to the world, inviting audiences to get lost, go deep and shake loose.
A festval of the night, RISING will electrify Melbourne and its surrounds with 225 events – including 22 commissions, 14 world premieres, and featuring 801 local and internatonal artists – transforming the city a celebration of its globally renowned culture and night life.
Traversing the city’s iconic theatres, parks, public spaces, band rooms and bridges, over 12 nights Melbourne will come alive with an array of free and family focussed events; transformative public art installations; large-scale performances; intimate works of theatre and dance; and an expansive program of music acts from across Australia and around the world with the first major international festival line up the state has seen in more than two years.
“It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is over,” said RISING Co-Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek. “It’s happening and we are so thrilled to share this moment, to share RISING, with the people of Melbourne.”
“When we first conceived of this festival, several years ago now, we wanted to create a large-scale cultural event that truly captured this city; that could not happen in any other place other than Melbourne – a festival that reflects this moment in time and I’m incredibly proud that this program does just that. Now it’s time for audiences to get out and experience it,” said Obarzanek.
In a monumental public work visually proclaiming the festival’s commencement, a giant laser beam, almost one kilometre long, will shoot blazing light down the Birrarung (Yarra) river, coursing above the water to a nexus at Princess Bridge in MONOCHORD – audio-visual artist Robin Fox’s luminescent public artwork.
At a transformed Sidney Myer Music Bowl, RISING’s night garden of sensory stimulation, The Wilds, brings together the best of what makes Melbourne hum. Voluminous inflatable sculptures, towering projec1ons, mind-expanding soundscapes and performances will transform the iconic space with cult snacks from some of the city’s most revered restaurants providing fuel for the night’s adventures.
In a throwback to a decades-old tradition, the much loved ice-skating rink has been reinstated on the stage, allowing skaters of all skill levels to glide around the ice, while a caterwauling choir belts out reconstructed ‘80s and ‘90s hits. Overlooking it all is The Lighthouse – a glass domed, fine dining pop-up helmed by celebrated chefs David Moyle, Jo Barrett and Matt Stone.
Smack bang in the centre of the longest continuous Chinatown in the West stands Golden Square – RISING’s swirling art car park. Featuring three levels of art, performance, parades and rooftop bars, the twisting maze of contemporary art features works from Paul Yore, Su Hui Yu, Scotty So, Tabita Rezaire, Jason Phu and Atong Atem, and provides the perfect viewing point for celebrated New York icon Jenny Holzer’s new commission, I Conjure that will be beamed across the facade of the Queen Victoria Woman’s Centre.
At Art Centre Melbourne, Kaleidoscope is a mesmerising symphony of light, sound and joy – a breathtaking mirror maze that allows audiences to step inside a constantly shifting illusion in the brand new solo project by Keith Courtney, one of the masterminds behind House of Mirrors and 1000 Doors.
Next door at the NGV audiences can witness Still Lives: Melbourne, artists Luke George (Melbourne) and Daniel Kok’s (Singapore) work with five Australian Rules players to capture a moment in time bound by rope, while across town at the State Library of Victoria, Geelong’s pioneering Back to Back Theatre crack open the archive with Single Channel Video – a work that conjures an op-shop of the soul filmed live onstage.
Three of Melbourne’s most beloved venues, the Forum, Max Watts and Melbourne Recital Centre, play host to some of the world’s most forward-thinking contemporary music acts, including Kelly Lee Owens, Baxter Dury, Lucy Dacus, Arab Strap, Masego, Shabazz Palaces, Sampa the Great and Andy Shauf.
The festival’s Japan in Focus program shines a light on Melbourne and Japan’s musical ties, highlighting everything from Tokyo’s mid-’90s, “cut-and-paste” Shibuya-kei scene with acts like CHAI, Boris and Midori Takada.
In Melbourne’s first major international line up in years, Australian talent holds its own with the likes of Harvey Sutherland, rising superstar Tkay Maidza, The Goon Sax, and Heavy Congress – a major live music event representing the city’s thriving sound system culture.
In must see dance, Stephanie Lake’s thunderous latest work Manifesto features nine dancers and nine drum kits and drummers performing a tattoo to optimism in precision concert to unleash rebellion, command obedience, radiate wonder and show tenderness.
Rewards for the Tribe sees two of the country’s most influential and innovative dance companies, Chunky Move and Restless Dance Theatre collaborating for the very first time. 21 Pornographies features Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen embarking on a noholds-barred, one-woman exploration of power, submission and observation, while The Dancing Public takes inspiration from mysterious mass dancing events that occurred across Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.
In HIJRA’H, Indonesian choreographer and dancer Rianto dives deep into the history and culture of Sulawesi, while a powerful and mesmerising multimedia dance production from Marrugeku, Jurrungu ngan-ga reflects on the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in custody, and the years-long detention of refugees.
Performance highlights across the program include works from visionary theatre makers Nat Randall and Anna Breckon who return with Set Piece – a work that eliminates the boundaries between film and stage – and Platform Art’s Anything & Everything which provides a glimpse into the in1mate online and IRL spaces where young people navigate iden1ty, ability, gender diversity and consent.
In 8/8/8: Work the world of Comic Sans reply-alls is taken offline, by artists Harriet Gillies and Marcus McKenzie, in an experimental marathon performance. At Arts Centre Melbourne Eryn Jean Norville delivers an odyssey of theatrical storytelling in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
A farty party for grands, teenagers and grandkids alike, Fart Fabulous is a playful, punk variety show burs1ng with circus, drag, dance, visual art and live music.
Emmy award-winning filmmaker and artist Lynette Wallworth brings her renowned storytelling skills to the stage with HOW TO LIVE (After You Die), and at Federation Square, The Invisible Opera is a contemporary performance work for public space from multidisciplinary artist Sophia Brous.
“RISING offers even more reasons for Victorians to rediscover the best of Melbourne, from Chinatown to the Yarra and everywhere in between – the festival will deliver strong economic benefits right across the CBD.” said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson.
“The return of RISING brings with it a spectacular line-up of art, music and theatre three years in the making, igni1ng city streets and posi1oning Melbourne as a cultural beacon to draw visitors from across the state and the nation,” said Minister Pearson.
“RISING will deliver just what Melburnians and visitors enjoy the most – a fabulous festival full of art, music and nightlife!”said Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp,“Post-pandemic, we know that crowds are flocking to Melbourne’s events in record numbers.”
“RISING will be our biggest winter attraction, and we can’t wait to welcome hundreds of thousands of festival-goers to this exceptional event that we have waited years for,” said the Lord Mayor.
RISING takes place across Melbourne: 1 – 12 June 2022. For more information and full program, visit: www.rising.melbourne for details.
Image: The Wilds – photo by Eugene Hyland