Life is strange. One minute we can share moments of pleasurable intimacy over coffee with a friend, before despairing at the latest headline charting our species’ incapacity to live sustainably and with justice.
This season’s Arts House program bursts with work by extraordinary artists who find meaning in these complex contradictions – inviting us to connect, witness and participate.
The Festival of Live Art celebrates diversity – of forms, gender, sexuality and ability. It’s an unflinching critique of our contemporary world: of the economy we make art in; of the misogyny spilling casually into social media; and the relationships we pursue with our digital devices sometimes at the expense of each other and the natural world.
Then we pass the baton to an all-new-generation of Next Wave artists, flooding every corner of Arts House with their investigations into what’s wrong and what’s not. In June we present three works focusing on the body in performance, exploring our relationships with the body as women, as HIV+, as Indigenous and as bodies at work.
In a new partnership with the University of Melbourne, we present Performing Climates, a public program of the Performing Studies International conference; including Marrugeku Theatre’s large-scale work, Cut the Sky, telling stories of the devastating impact on Western Australia’s environment and Indigenous communities. Performing Climates also includes a part-game/part-performance investigating the interplay of natural and human-made systems; an environmental installation and lament for Australia’s landscape; and a tender invitation to touch the rising oceans of the Pacific. Not least, Performing Climates features Refuge – an artistled rehearsal of Arts House’s role in the event of a climate catastrophe.
North Melbourne Town Hall is where everything happens. Its history of small and large civic exchanges – of paying traffic fines and getting dog licenses, of social gatherings and political debates – is reframed amid new transactions, with moments of joy exploding alongside elegies, diatribes and dancing. The sometimes-polarising tensions of locally created arts that ambitiously contribute to a national civic and cultural discussion, with artists who work and think globally, create the force field that both energises the Arts House program and keeps it accountable.
You are invited. Come on in.