For my money, there's only one truly big event in Melbourne at this time of year, and I don't mean the AFL Grand Final or the Royal Melbourne Show. From October 6 - October 22 the Melbourne International Arts Festival
will spread its wings once again, showcasing world-class performances which are challenging, inspiring and stimulating.
Asian talent and traditional artforms are always well represented in the Festival. In past years, highlights have included the Indonesian-Australian wayang kulit production The Theft of Sita
; Rongo: Voices of Oceania
, a grand concert by musicians from around the Asia-Pacific region (including Ki Poedijono and Ria Soemardjo); Turkey's mystical Whirling Dervishes
and their Sufi rituals; and the innovative Bamboo Symphonia
music group from Japan.
So what's on offer this year? In a word, heaps. Everything from concerts by maestro Phillip Glass
, to quirky bicycle-riding performance artists
. Two Festival events of particular interest to me are a gallery show by Fiona Tan
, an Indonesian-born visual artist, and a traditional Cambodian dance drama
adaptation of the Ramayana
. See below for more information.
FIONA TAN - Saint Sebastian
Anna Schwartz Gallery :: Saturday 8 Oct - Saturday 22 OctSaint Sebastian
is Fiona Tan's remarkable visual essay on suspense and sensuality. Tan captures the tension of the annual Toshiya ceremony
in Kyoto, Japan, a festival that brings together the finest young female archers from around Japan to celebrate the passing from childhood into adulthood. Lying somewhere between still photograph and moving picture, the ritualised ceremony is riveting and all-absorbing. Tan has encapsulated the captivation of beauty, colour and eroticism in this exquisite work. Venue: Anna Schwartz Gallery
, 185 Flinders Lane, MelbourneDates:
Saturday 8 October - Saturday 22 October. Tue-Fri 12pm-6pm, Sat 1pm-5pmEntry:
FREEFor More Information: Melbourne International Arts Festival
:: Anna Schwartz Gallery
:: Previous exhibitions by Fiona TanArtist Biography:
Born 1966 in Pekanbaru (Indonesia); artistic work with video and film mainly in installations; lives and works in Amsterdam (NL). Home country and place of living are an important factor in the work of the artist: Indonesia as the former colony of Holland and Amsterdam as the capital of the colonial empire. The effects of that colonial past onto the present continuously influence her work. She started this investigation when she found old faded slides of her birthplace in Sumatra and of her childhood in Indonesia.
WEYREAP'S BATTLE - Lakhaon Kaol (Cambodian Classical Masked Dance)
Amrita Performing Arts (in collaboration) :: Thursday 6 Oct - Saturday 8 Oct
Preceded by a special Buddhist blessing, Weyreap's Battle
is a dance theatre work retelling an action-packed episode of the well known Asian epic, the Ramayana
, as it is known in Cambodia. Through traditional music, simple staging and highly energetic classical dancing, the all-male cast performs a time-honoured narrative of good triumphing over evil.
'Lakhaon Kaol' (Cambodian classical male masked dancing) consists of a complex vocabulary of over 4,000 gestures. An ensemble featuring circle gongs, xylophones, percussion and woodwind instruments accompanies the expressive movement, while two narrators 'direct' the choreography from the orchestra (narration sung in Cambodian with English surtitles). In glittery costumes and elaborately painted masks, the dancers portray a monkey army, an underwater sea creature battle, and a host of surprising and magical encounters, in this larger-than-life production for all ages.
A little known form of ancient sacred dance, 'Lakhaon Kaol', is one of the oldest Cambodian performing arts traditions, but until recently it was feared lost. From 1975 to 1979 the Khmer Rouge's brutal repression of Cambodian culture resulted in the deaths of many Cambodian artists and intellectuals, including an estimated 90 per cent of all classical dancers. 'Lakhaon Kaol' has now been painstakingly revived by the few surviving artists, together with the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and the National Theatre of Cambodia.Venue: The Arts Centre - Playhouse
, 100 St Kilda Rd, MelbourneDates:
Thursday 6 October - Saturday 8 October. Thu-Sat 8.15pm, Fri matinee 11amEntry:
Full - $45, Concession - $33.75, Student - $19For More Information: Melbourne International Arts Festival
:: Amrita Performing Arts
:: Interview with the Director of Amrita Performing Arts