Arts / ‘Explosive’ art event brings people together

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“Australian Dance Party”… at the Art Not Apart launch.

“DO you wanna dance and hold my hand?” members of the Australian Dance Party were asking a large crowd outside the Nishi Hotel today (March 7) as they mounted a pink-painted repurposed 14-tonne military truck, which the festival Art Not Apart renamed the “Soul Defender”.

The answer from those gathered for the occasion was a resounding: “Yes”!

Explaining, “what we have to do to stay relevant“, producer David Caffery introduced the day-long festival of art, music, film, theatre, wine and food that takes place in NewActon precinct every autumn, based on one simple idea – “this is art, no-one’s apart”.

Caffery explained that as the ACT’s face was changing dramatically, the festival had moved from its humble beginnings to become “an injection of soul – a landmark for Canberra”.

In short, Caffery promised, Art Not Apart, would be “a coherent and explosive event”.

Caffery also spoke of an initiative in which they had taken some of their music to 150 young children, only to be criticised by one observer for making too much noise.

“People had better get used to a bit of noise for children, otherwise they’re going to get passive,” Caffery said.

Performance art curator Chenoeh Miller praised the Molonglo Group who had supported the festival, for saying – “yeah, let’s try it” – to crazy ideas. 95 per cent of the performance work would be brand-new, she said, and by locals.

Street art curator Byrd described his selection of 100 metres of works for the “The Artery” along Edinburgh Avenue as “a good mix” which would include a contingent of artists from the south coast.

Program coordinator Tegan Garnett, representing visual art curator Chloe Mandryk, said that there had been more visual arts applications than ever before, all but one of them from Canberra. Highlights, she said, would be “Soul and Mortar” in Nishi Gallery, “Outside In” in the ANCA Art Bus, and “Façade” in the apartments on Kendall Lane.

“Clown Lung'” by Oliver Levi Malouf. Photo: Levi Malouf.

Film and moving image curator Sam Dignand, outlined the problems of curating moving image elements for a daytime festival, but said that QT Canberra and The Molonglo Group had come to the party by offering him a “beautiful precinct” for the video installations, films like “Clown Lung” by former Canberran Oliver Levi-Malouf and other works which he predicted would be “discombobulating”.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr… at the launch

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr told those present: “Canberra has been changing over my adult life me just important that we continue down this path, doing confronting work and taking a few risks.”

Music curator Michael Liu said there would be three performance stages this year. As well, ther would be a twist on Mozart in Canberra Opera’s “The Prime Ministerial Impresario” by Canberra Opera and music By Toby Cole’s Handel in The Theatre, performed the gospel number, “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” on the Nishi stairs.

Ninth “Art, Not Apart”, NewActon, Shine Dome, National Film and Sound Archive and QT Canberra, 1pm-7pm, Saturday, March 16, followed by an after-party. Details at

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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