Melbourne Festival 2015

NGV Ian Potter Gallery Hermannsberg pottery exhibition
NGV Ian Potter Gallery Hermannsberg pottery exhibition

Arts festivals are challenging events. If you are visiting another city for a festival you have to decide how long you are going for, when during a 20-day festival you are going, and which shows you choose to go to in that short space of time. It can go well or it can go badly.

So far it’s going well in Melbourne, as it usually does. I like the Melbourne Festival. It’s bold and adventurous, and mostly rewards my choices. I try to come for an extended weekend most years.

But the city doesn’t embrace the festival the way Adelaide does its March event. The spring visitor guide barely mentions the glorious and diverse arts on offer, preferring to concentrate on that other spring carnival – the one of people dressing up to gamble on horses being flogged around a track decorated with introduced flowers.

The NGV art galleries aren’t on the festival program and seem to ignore it. Many sections are closed for changing exhibitions, just when the arts festival attracts more visitors who would be interested in cruising the galleries during the day. I don’t understand.

But enough of the negative. The Ian Potter Gallery does have a fabulous exhibition of Hermannsberg pottery celebrating the indigenous players of the AFL (above).

Andrew Schneider is my new hero. His YOUARENOWHERE is a head explosion of the first order. It’s physics, perception, and powerful performance; it’s visual and aural, and technical, overload. It’s conceptually brilliant and Andrew is brave and magnificent. I’m getting to the looped scenes of Acting Stranger tomorrow, my last day here, if it kills me.

Last night Speak Percussion played the world premiere of A Wave and Waves by Michael Pisaro. We, the audience, sat among the 100 percussionists arranged in a grid across the floor of Meat Market in North Melbourne. The immersive experience was highlighted by imaginative lighting though for much of the time I wanted to just shut my eyes and listen. For the first half I felt s though I was in the ocean and in the second I was in the waves as they came to shore. Cool.

(The last time I was in the Meat Market was in 2006 for Stan’s Café: All the people in all the world: Pacific rim. I can still remember vividly some of the statistical stories those grains of rice told.)

For visual art, Torrent at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy is mesmerising and meditative. At fortyfivedownstairs Angela Cavalieri’s powerful art speaks of Monteverdi’s music.

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