ff2008 Wrap… ff2009 Kickoff!

I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of days – due to the proximity of the 2009 Adelaide Fringe, I’ve felt absolutely compelled to churn out the rest of my ff2008 writing. What can I say? I do my best work under pressure ;)

It’s been a delight writing up the remaining shows, because it’s given me the excuse to ignore my other obsessions and write about this arty stuff which I really, truly adore. As I’ve said before, that anyone can create something beautiful, or stand on a stage and risk ridicule, or temper their movements so as to cause emotion is something that I envy, something that I admire. All credit to all those that perform such feats!

And, reading back on ff2008, I’m left to reflect that it was a pretty bloody good year. From the incredible new experience of The Smile Off Your Face to the usual Masterson quality imbued in Follow Me; from the anarchic Nick Sun to the delightful DeAnne Smith; the incredibly polished DBR to the ramshackle genius of Bird Lantern; Don’t Look Back, Conclusions: On Ice, Moving Target… every one of them a winner, or at least fun to write about.

But now it’s time to look forward to ff2009… and, less than a week out from the first shows in The Garden, The Scheduling has commenced. And it’s scary.

Tips? The Tuxedo Cat looks to be the go-to venue for comedy this year, and Holden Street for your more serious stuff. Other than that, though, you’re on your own… for now.

Please, keep reading – and tell your friends. It’s going to be a big year :)

ArtWalk 2008

Every Fringe, I say I’m going to check out a whole bunch of visual art. Paintings, sculptures, stuff like that. I figure it’s an opportunity to immerse myself in even more arty things than I normally would in my day-to-day life, heightened by the rarified atmosphere of a ff assault – and it’s even more compelling in a Festival year, with the curated Biennial being a must-see. And hey, my very first art purchase was as a result of a Fringe showing in 1998.

I love my Chili, I really do. Looking a little worse for wear now, though…

This year, I meant it. I went through both the Fringe and Festival Visual Arts guides, flagged the displays of interest, plotted a route, and then…

…left it ’til the last minute. Thus, on the final Friday of ff2008, I found myself faced with an arduous trek around Adelaide in 38 degree heat. In previous years, that would have been reason enough to pike out – but I was committed. This year I was taking my visual arts seriously – if belatedly.

I start out at the (wonderful) Tin Cat Cafe for a delicious breakfast and Emma Hack Body.Art.08 which contained a few pieces of interest – but not at those prices. Cutting back down Rundle Street led me to the Greenaway Art Gallery and a number of Festival-curated pieces – Speed of Light: Iván Navarro (wonderful fluoro-centric furniture) and Thomas Rentmeister‘s perplexing stack of whitegoods. Back out to the sweltering heat, heading back into the city via the National Wine Centre and Julia Blanka Lesniewski’s Canvases With A Soul display – ace stuff, lovely textures. Would have loved to have bought some, but – eleven months later – the impulse has, perhaps sadly, passed.

Continuing into the city, there were some mildly engaging pinhole photos in the Digit! collection (Premier Art Gallery, Rundle Street) before I cut back to the Electric Light Hotel for Joshua Smith’s noir-filled Pulp!. After a spot of lunch with friends, I scooted back to the Adelaide Uni School of Architecture for the nostalgic Designing Designers, then across to the State Library to (a) cool off, and (2) check out the Elisa Sighicelli fragment of the wider Speed of Light presentation – some really nice lightbox ideas, combined with some videos of clunkier installations. Back up through town to the never-before-visited Thea Tea Shop and An Oriental Flair, which meant nothing to my uneducated eyes, then on to the utterly bizarre Urtext Studios on Grenfell Street for the unappealing junk-art of Scary Chicks and Boring Dudes.

All the way back to the Festival Centre Plaza for another Speed of Light piece, Spherescent. This proved to be the highlight of my little visual arts walkabout; ensconced in a tiny, air-conditioned tent oasis in the middle of the baking Plaza lay a simple installation that, with the aid of a shitload of mirrors, created the very real illusion of a patterned ball of light floating in space. Stunning! Pity, then that the Grafitti Research Lab (just across at the Artspace) was so utterly unremarkable – nice technology, but a rather self-important video presentation.

Back up to Hindley Street and the Karma Sukha Gallery for Elements of the Sacred, which left no lasting impact. Across the street at Flightpath, I interrupt a Friday afternoon office meeting(!) to check out Inventing Time. Down to Nexus for Adelaide Ink, across to the Samstag Museum in UniSA City West for the stunning Taiwanese installation Penumbra (including the obervation of one piece over two levels – very interesting), then up the road for the seashell-centric This Everything Water. Up to the Worldsend for a refreshing beer and Chain of 77 Art Party #2, back through AC Arts on Light Square for the underwhelming found art of Cellar Sweatshop, then up to the Fringe Factory – hey, I had Trouble on Planet Earth at 6pm.

The Factory had a fair few displays on: the usual Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition Top 20, the wacky installation works of Don’t Be Afraid, the UpstART Visual Art, and Emilija Jane’s wonderful Paintings in all their fractally-inspired goodness.

See, this sort of thing pushes my pleasure-buttons. Colourful. Textured. Delicious.

And that was all I could manage on that Friday (though, I note with interest, I wound up seeing a bunch of exhibitions that weren’t part of the Fringe or Festival at all. Lucky them, eh?) So the next day, a slightly steamier Saturday, I left home early and headed down to the Parade Grounds for Blue Jeans and Jungle Greens (a neat historical look at the sixties through everyday fashion) and the 2008 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition (which didn’t get close to troubling my wallet). Finally, I headed back through the Jam Factory to check out the Russian Speed of Light: Last Riot, an ultra-widescreen video extravaganza that was high on production values and low on lingering interest. Mischa Kuball’s Speed of Light segment, on the other hand, was spectacular; ReMix / Broca II featured pinpoint light sources and creative machinations to create stunning rooms of light.

Of course, the found-object inspired 2008 Adelaide Biennial also got a look-in somewhere along the line; but that’s pretty much it for my concerted visual art intake for 2008. Slack, eh?


OK. So, I know we’ve just hit June, and I’ve posted nothing since March.

And that’s, like, bad.

Because I’ve got twelve shows to post, along with details of my Visual Arts marathon, topped off with the Year In Review.

And, at my current rate (of precisely none posts per week) it’ll take – quite literally – forever to finish the year off.

And that’d be, like, really really bad.

So I’ll try to up the rate a bit. Just a smidge. Try to grind out a post-or-two a week. Or fortnight.



The Latest Apology…

An apology to the three people who usually read this blog: sorry I haven’t been updating regularly.

Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling a little poorly lately; a rampant schedule over the past week has resulted in me catching a devilish cold – sniffles and coughs ahoy! – which has subsequently sapped away my desire to write (and squeeze in extra shows). Friday, for example, was the perfect opportunity to catch up on my writing – no matinees, only one show at 7:30pm… Sadly, no writing was done, and the opportunity to catch a late-night comedian on the Maybe-List was not taken (sorry, Sheehan or Vincent).

As I write this – halfway through the so-so Murder in the Cathedral – I’m only eighteen shows behind. Hopefully, I’ll catch up soon… ie, before Easter ;)

Snowed Under…

Well, at the moment I’m only 6 shows behind in my little write-ups…

  • Don’t Look Back
  • The Gecko Enforcer
  • Meow Meow
  • Ainadamar
  • American Poodle
  • Amelia Jane Hunter is Keith Flipp

Writing is really, really hard at the moment: there’s some tragic personal-life stuff going on, and I’m deeply appreciative of the opportunity to immerse myself in the worlds presented by all these great performances. A nice little escape from reality, if you will.

And then I look at Guy Masterson, who still delivers a great show even though he’s just lost a family member to cancer, and I become… well, utterly humbled.

So – to all the artists I’ll see in the next few days: thankyou in advance. To anyone who actually reads my words: I apologise for any melancholy or bitterness in advance. Hopefully I’ll soon find my level and begin to write more freely again.

All Systems GO!

It’s here. The Garden is open. Festival tickets are all bought and paid for. The Schedule spreadsheet has been assembled, and the tricky task of scheduling Fringe shows has commenced.

Acrobat‘s return, scheduled for this evening, has already been cancelled (as has Holy Cow‘s entire season). No big deal at this stage; FringeTIX are happy to exchange tickets for another day, and there’s still some slack in “pre-week” that it can fit into.

In tizzying myself up for FF2008, though, I may have made a little bit of a miscalculation. In the hairdressers. A Hairdressing Incident, if you will. Needless to say, you’ll see me coming. Check the promo pics for The Angel And The Red Priest on page 40 of the Festival Guide for some idea of what I’m talking about.

No sleep for 29 nights now… :D

2008 Adelaide Festival Launch

Oh dear. I need a new job.

Because the 2008 Adelaide Festival of Arts is going to cost me a ton of money. And a kidney.

That’s not to say that the ticket prices are hellishly expensive – although there are a fair few more $100+ prices to be found. It’s just that there’s very, very little in the programme that I don’t want to see.

The launch – attended by a third-full Festival Theatre – got off to a dry start; Ross Adler and an Adelaide Bank chap rolled out the usual platitudes, before Mike Rann came out to officially launch the Festival. It’s the first time I’ve ever paid attention to Rann (or “Media Mike”, as my Dad loves to sneer) speak… he’s constantly flipping pages of his pre-written material every 10-15 words. Bloody good speaker, though.

And then came (Artistic Director) Brett Sheehy – first introducing the 2008 motto “what are you seeing?”, and following up with the iconic sculpture that will adorn Festival press everywhere, a fantastically playful amorphous blob called go, you little dynamo, go. And, pausing just twice for well-deserved sips of water, he talked with vim and enthusiasm about pretty much every performance on the programme. Forty-five minutes straight.

And it was genuinely exciting! The opera Ainadamar looks to be the flagship production this year, DBR & The Mission sounds like it’s going to be a storming lead on the musical front (with Dharma at Big Sur following closely), the crowd behind 2006’s Nora return with another re-working, this time of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Brink have another promising production (When The Rain Stops Falling), there’s a fantastic sounding Indian/Sri Lankan Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the dance piece to book early will be Sacred Monsters (which actually elicited excited yelps from the audience). And much much much much more…

Potential duds? Well, yes; a piece focussed on the Dunstan reformist years? Not so interesting. A Chinese junk cruising up and down the Torrens? Ho hum. The Living Books project? Fraught with danger. But they could all be eclipsed – for better or worse, if you catch my drift – by the Leonard Cohen / Philip Glass collaboration “Book of Longing”… that’s either going to be 100% pure genius or mass-suicide material.

A lot was made of the efforts to produce the first Australian (and third world-wide?) carbon-neutral Festival; a noble goal, for sure, but it didn’t get off to a promising start with all the Guides and posters being handed out as soon as the official Launch was over. Then again, I was there saying “one of each, please”, so I’m part of the problem. (Nice to see my name in the Guide again, too – pg 68, right across from Brett Sheehy ;)

And with that, all that remains is scheduling and earning and booking and paying off Visa and earning and paying off Visa and waiting… and on the 29th of February, lazing around the Persian Garden in hazy expectant delirium. Oh yes, I cannot wait :)