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Highlights: Melbourne International Arts Festival 2010

Melbourne Festival is one of Australia’s international arts festivals and one of the major multi-arts festivals of the world, in terms of quality of work, innovation of vision, and scale and breadth of program.

Each Festival brings dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multimedia and outdoor events from renowned and upcoming Australian and International companies and artists to Melbourne.

Melbourne Festival is a key destination festival within Australia’s cultural calendar, ensuring interstate and international visitation by exclusively debuting and premiering some of the finest national and international artists and companies, and by ensuring that the only place in Australia that many of the key festival projects are seen is in Melbourne.

Melbourne Festival is quintessentially Melbourne’s festival – physically by reaching out into the topography and geography of the city itself, artistically by presenting Melbourne’s finest artists in new works and international collaborations, and demographically by engaging with as many people of Melbourne as possible, giving them ownership of their annual international festival.

The 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival will take place between 8 – 23 October.


Hotel Pro Forma
Music by The Knife

Photo: Claudi Thyrrestrup

Hotel Pro Forma’s striking imagery blends with Scandinavian electro-pop masters The Knife’s groundbreaking music to create a new species of electro dance opera

When Danish contemporary opera auteurs Hotel Pro Forma brought their landmark exploration of the Orpheus myth Operation: Orfeo to Australia last decade, the result was a nationwide sell-out sensation. Now, for their much anticipated return, they focus on Charles Darwin in the stunning ultra contemporary opera, Tomorrow, in a year.

In 1859 Darwin published The Origin of Species and our view of the world was changed forever by his theory of evolution. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication, Hotel Pro Forma created an awe inspiring, large-scale operatic spectacle that will change our view of opera forever. Tomorrow, in a year is inspired by Darwin’s perception of nature and time. Directors Ralf Richardt Strøbech and Kirsten Dehlholm have created a lavish visual and conceptual universe formed by Darwin’s thoughts, experiences and letters.

On stage an ensemble of singers and actors representing Darwin, time and nature, perform experimental and exploratory compositions that challenge conventional conceptions of opera. Six dancers from a variety of dance backgrounds form the raw material of life through movement choreographed by Japanese artist Hiroaki Umeda. The unconventional score, created by Swedish electro pop duo The Knife in collaboration with musicians Planningtorock and Mt Sims, was partly recorded in the Amazon Jungle and Iceland and combines sounds from the natural world with man-made electronic atmospherics, interspersed with swirling vocals. Together with the latest technology in light and sound, our image of the world as a place of incredible variation, similarity and unity is re-discovered in this revolutionary electronic feast for the senses.

Hiroaki Umeda

Photo: Alex & Shin Yamagata

Digital sounds, neon-coloured lighting and minimalist movement combine to create a technologically-charged world controlled by Japanese performer Hiroaki Umeda

Tokyo-based multidisciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda is a choreographer, dancer, sound artist and lighting designer whose work is minimal and radical, subtle and violent, and very much in touch with his contemporary Japanese roots. He brings to the Festival two of his recent installations for body, sound and light, both created and performed by him. Adapting for Distortion and Haptic are not simply multimedia movement creations to be watched, but rather are immersive works that need to be felt and experienced. These abstractly devised and strongly anti-narrative pieces continue Umeda’s exploration of visual perception and his preoccupation with the notion of mankind fading away with the advent of technological supremacy.

Distortion of time, change of movement and immobility are at the heart of Adapting for Distortion. Engulfed in computer generated sounds and optical effects, Hiroaki Umeda’s body seems to slowly fade away and go out of focus within the luminous lines and spirals, until it is a mere vibration, a shadow of its real self.

In Haptic, Hiroaki Umeda leaves behind computing and video projection to concentrate on the effects of light and colour. Beautiful bright hues shift and morph in relation to Umeda’s fluid movements creating an exquisite visual and sonic experience.

Michael Clark Company

Photo: Jake Walters

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll! In the hands of the man described by The UK Independent as “one of the most exciting, even revolutionary, forces in British dance”, contemporary dance has never looked so good

The worlds of classical ballet, modern dance and explosive rock music collide head on, yet manage to coexist in perfect harmony, in this exhilarating Australian premiere of Michael Clark’s come, been and gone. The playful and provocative smash hit of last year’s Edinburgh Festival is set to be this year’s must-see Melbourne Festival event.

Created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Michael Clark Company, the critically acclaimed production come, been and gone is made primarily to the music of the legendary David Bowie. It also embraces the work of his key collaborators Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Brian Eno and touches on some of his influences including The Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk amongst others.

Dancer, choreographer and artistic associate of London’s Barbican, Michael Clark creates work that combines his classical integrity with a more complex contemporary sensibility embracing virtue and vice, abandon and control, grace and embarrassment. He is renowned for his legendary collaborations with bands, fashion designers and visual artists including Wire, BodyMap, Leigh Bowery, Trojan and Sarah Lucas.


Featuring work by seven major international artists, Dying in Spite of the Miraculous reveals the shadowy outlines that bleed between worlds, where artists become inseparable from their haunting of a site or a story. Co-curated by the Festival and Gertrude Contemporary, the exhibition explores film’s potential as an allegory for the interplay between real time and the illusory, as actors blur their characters with themselves, and sites resonate with accumulated history.

Combining the intrigue of real life events born from trauma and psychosis with ritual and magic, Dying in Spite of the Miraculous presents a restless fusion of the celestial and the real. Bas Jan Ader and Jeremy Blake both disappeared, presumed drowned, while exploring sadness and psychosis in their work. The myths and superstitions surrounding occultist Aleister Crowley and killers Jean-Claude Romand and Charles Manson are the subject of works by Joachim Koester, Saskia Olde Wolbers and Justin Lieberman. Joachim Koester and Ulla von Brandenburg investigate a curious collection of architectures, from the ghoulishly muraled rooms of Crowley’s magical community in Sicily, to Le Corbusier’s failed utopian experiment Villa Savoye. Jeremy Blake’s video work summons the spectres of the Winchester Mystery Mansion built by Sarah Lockwood Pardee, as a gift to the ghosts that haunted her. In all of these works the celestial coexists with the out-take and the certain becomes ethereal.

Working in collaboration with architect Johan Van Schaik, Gertrude Contemporary’s two gallery spaces will be transformed into a dematerialising labyrinth, mirroring the way the works blur the distinction between self and subject.

Heiner Goebbels

Photo: Mario Del Curto

A play without actors, a performance without performers and a concert without musicians

Legendary German composer, director and multimedia maverick Heiner Goebbels invites audiences to enter a fascinating space full of sounds and images for his sonic performance landscape Stifters Dinge.

Inspired by the 19th Century romantic writer Aldabert Stifter, best known for his intricately detailed and mystical descriptions of nature, Stifters Dinge continues Goebbels’ trademark inquiry into theatrical mystery and otherness.

This astonishingly beautiful and contemplative work unfolds on a set of bare trees surrounded by industrial construction. Five pianos, stripped of their covers, are suspended sideways above the stage. Across this bizarre landscape, the pianos play, fog rises, rain falls, water bubbles, objects move mysteriously and are set in motion by robot-like apparatuses that create sound effects. Idealised paintings of nature magically appear. The score, performed in real-time and recorded, includes original music by Goebbels, selections from classical music, jazz works, and traditional chants from South America and Papua New Guinea. Recorded fragments of texts from Stifter’s novels, and excerpts and quotations from Claude Levi-Strauss, William S Burroughs and Malcolm X are woven throughout. Each audience member will encounter these seemingly disparate ‘things’ and can let their imagination roam free to find their own meaning in this richly comprehensive and totally mesmerising work.

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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