It’s on! RISING, a festival that lasted three years, has just opened. Victoria’s newest major event launches its first full, uninterrupted 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 go wild .
A festival of the night, RISING will electrify Melbourne and its surroundings with 225 events – including 22 orders, 14 world premieres, and featuring 801 local and international artists – transforming the city into a celebration of its world-class culture and nightlife.
Crossing the city’s iconic theatres, parks, public spaces, music halls and bridges, over 12 nights Melbourne will come alive with a range of free and family-oriented events; transformative public art installations; large-scale shows; intimate works of theater and dance; and an extensive program of musical acts from across Australia and around the world with the first major international festival the state has seen in over 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’re so excited to share this moment, to share RISINGwith the people of Melbourne.
“When we first conceived of this festival several years ago, we wanted to create a large-scale cultural event that really captures this city; it couldn’t happen anywhere but Melbourne – a festival that reflects that moment in time and I’m incredibly proud that this program does just that. Now is the time for the public to come out and experience it.
Co-Artistic Director Hannah Fox was summed up: “Finally.”
In a monumental public work visually proclaiming the start of the festival, a giant laser beam, almost a kilometer long, will cast a blazing light on the Birrarung (Yarra) River, running over the water to a link at Princess Bridge at MONOCORD — audiovisual artist Robin Foxluminescent public artwork.
In a transformed Sidney Myer Music Bowl, RISINGthe nocturnal garden of sensory stimulation, The Savages, brings together the best of what makes Melbourne tick. Chunky inflatable sculptures, towering projections, soundscapes and stunning performances will transform the iconic space with cult favorites from some of the city’s most revered restaurants, providing fuel for nighttime adventures. In a throwback to a decades-old tradition, the much-loved ice rink has been restored to the stage, allowing skaters of all skill levels to glide across the ice, while a screaming choir sings reconstructed hits from the 80s and 90s. all is Lighthouse — a gourmet dining pop-up under a glass dome led by renowned chefs David Moyle, Jo Barrett and matte stone.
Right in the center of the longest continuous Chinatown in the west golden square —RISING‘s swirling art parking lot. With three levels of art, performances, parades and rooftop bars, the winding maze of contemporary art features works by Paul Yore, Su Hui Yu, Scotty so, Tabita Rezaire, Jason Phou and Atong Atemand provides the perfect vantage point for the famous New York icon by Jenny Holzer new committee, I conjure which will be radiated on the facade of the Queen Victoria Woman’s Centre.
At the Melbourne Art Center, Kaleidoscope is a memerising symphony of light, sound and joy – a breathtaking labyrinth of mirrors that allows audiences to step into an ever-changing illusion in the brand new solo project by Keith Courtneyone of the brains behind house of mirrors and 1000 doors. Next door, at the NGV, the public can witness Still Lifes: Melbourneartists Luke George (Melbourne) and by Daniel Kok (Singapore) work with five Australian Rules players to capture a moment in time bound by a rope, while across town at the State Library of Victoria, Geelong’s pioneer Back to back theatercrack open archive with Single channel video, a work that evokes an op-shop of the soul filmed live on stage.
Three of Melbourne’s best-loved venues, The Forum, Max Watts and Melbourne Recital Centre, are home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge contemporary music groups, including Kelly Lee Owens, Baxter Dury, Lucy Dacus, Arab strap, Masego, Shabazz Palace, Sampa the Great and Andy Shawf.The festival Japan in brief program sheds light on Melbourne and Japan’s musical ties, highlighting everything from Tokyo’s mid-90s, Shibuya-kei “cut-and-paste” scene with artists like CHAI, Boris and Midori Takada. In Melbourne’s first major international outfit for years, Australian talent shines with the likes of Harvey Sutherland, rising Super star Tkay Maidza, The Goon Sax, and Heavy Congress – a major musical event representing the city’s thriving sound culture.
In must see dance, the last thundering work of Stephanie Lake Manifest features nine dancers and nine drum kits and drummers performing a tattoo of optimism in a concert of precision to spark rebellion, command obedience, radiate wonder and show tenderness. Rewards for the tribe sees two of the most influential and innovative dance companies in the country, big move and Restless dance theatercollaborating for the very first time. 21 Pornographies presents the Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsenembark on a boundless exploration of power, submission and observation, while The dancing audience is inspired by mysterious mass dance events that took place across Europe between the 14e and 17e centuries. In HijrahIndonesian choreographer and dancer Rianto delves deep into the history and culture of Sulawesi, while a powerful and mesmerising multimedia dance production of Marrugeku, Jurrungu ngan-ga reflects on the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in detention and the years of detention of refugees.
Performance highlights across the program include works by visionary theater makers Nat Randall and Anna Breckon who comes back with Pieces together—work that breaks down the boundaries between film and stage—and Platform Art’s Everything and anything which provides insight into intimate online and IRL spaces where young people navigate identity, capabilities, 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 the Melbourne Arts Center Eryn Jean Norville offers an odyssey of theatrical storytelling in Dorian Gray’s photo. A fart party for adults, teenagers and grandchildren, fabulous fart is a playful punk variety show brimming with circus, drag, dance, visual art and live music. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and artist Lynette Wallworth brings his renowned storytelling skills to the stage with HOW TO LIVE (after you die)and at Federation Square, The invisible opera is a contemporary performance for public space by a multidisciplinary artist Sophie Brous.
“RISING offers even more reason for Victorians to rediscover the best of Melbourne, from Chinatown to Yarra and everywhere in between – the festival will bring strong economic benefits across the CBD. said Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson. “The return of RISING brings with it a spectacular lineup of art, music and theater over three years, igniting the streets of the city and positioning Melbourne as a cultural beacon to attract visitors from across the state and nation.
“RISING will deliver exactly what Melburnians and visitors appreciate most – a fabulous festival full of art, music and nightlife!” Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp,“Post-pandemic, we know crowds are flocking to Melbourne events in record numbers. RISING will be our biggest winter attraction and we look forward to welcoming hundreds of thousands of festival-goers to this exceptional event that we have been waiting for for years.
Melbourne, get ready for 12 nights of art and transformative experiences. It’s your city like you’ve never seen it before. Come in. Get out. To come down.
RISING takes place Wed, June 1—Sun. June 12, 2022
The Wilds will take over the Sidney Myer Music Bowl from Wednesday June 1 to Sunday June 19, 2022 (no Mondays)
Header photo by Nick Buckley