Six budget-friendly things to see at RISING 2024

RISING festival is back for 2024 with a characteristically broad program spanning art, music, performance and culture. But festivals can be overwhelming, especially during a cost-of-living crisis. So we’ve curated the ‘must-see-but-on-a-budget’ art events at this year’s RISING—all free or low cost with no bookings required, from Richard Bell’s iconic ‘Embassy’ tent to Jeremy Deller’s ‘24 Hour Rock Show’ to art-filled micro-bars.

The Blak Infinite

Kait James, Take me to your weaver. Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

This year, Federation Square has been transformed into The Blak Infinite: a site for “sharing First Peoples connections to the cosmos, political constellations and futures”. From large-scale installations to new commissions and conversations by leading First Nations artists and writers, The Blak Infinite is a constellation of art and stories. Kimberley Moulton and Kate ten Buuren have curated the space and incorporated the works of Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Michael Cook, Kait James, Tarryn Love, Ellen Van Neerven, Josh Muir and ENOKi.

Beam Me Up: The Art of Abduction

Tony Albert. Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

The best kid-friendly pick is an exhibit in The Blak Infinite. BEAM ME UP: The Art of Abduction is a series of workshops for kids hosted by Tony Albert with ENOKi. Attendees will enter Tony’s playful, interactive installation, which asks the question: “Who is the alien, why are they here and what do they want?” There are two different workshop themes: Spaceship and Beading. The former involves creating your own wearable spaceship, and in the latter, young ones aged over seven can create their own beaded bracelets, necklaces and adornments.

Jeremy Deller’s 24 Hour Rock Show

Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

Jeremy Deller’s 24 Hour Rock Show is just that—24 hours of back-to-back music documentaries selected by iconic British artist Jeremy Deller. First ‘performed’ in Finland in 2015, the free marathon screening is being reprised for the first time. It covers obscure gems alongside cult classics. Some are artist-specific (the Rolling Stones, Björk and David Bowie among them), while others focus on music festivals like Wattstax and Glastonbury. And for Deller fans, the man himself will be opening the show with a keynote address at the Saturday 8 June screening at midday.

Richard Bell’s Embassy

Richard Bell’s Embassy. Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

One of the exhibits in The Blak Infinite is Richard Bell’s Embassy. In 1972 four First Nations men—Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Bert Williams and Tony Coorey—set up a beach umbrella outside Federal Parliament to protest oppressive government policies and to demand land rights—and called it the Aboriginal Embassy. Bell took direct inspiration and erected a canvas tent surrounded by painted political protest signs. Visitors to the tent are encouraged to engage in “rigorous discussion and First Nations lead political discourse”. Embassy has travelled the world, visiting the Tate Modern in London and Documenta fifteen in Kassel Germany, to name a few. Now at Fed Square, it’s free to visit and will host talks with activists, writers and artists each Saturday of the festival.

Night Trade

Damien Raggatt, Night Trade. Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

The social hub of RISING, Night Trade is back for another year, this time locating itself in the Capitol Arcade to bring micro-bars, music and art to festival-goers. Situated under the Capitol Theatre and connecting to Howey Place, the pop-up haunt will host an array of happenings, including Sip and Paint classes, psychic readings, karaoke, a laneway shop that Jeremy Deller has converted into an exhibition, an interpolated soundtrack of beloved Melbourne band HTRK…and that doesn’t even cover the food!

The Rivers Sing

The Rivers Sing, Reprise. Image courtesy of RISING 2024.

The Rivers Sing is a large-scale audio artwork created by Yorta Yorta/Yuin composer and soprano Deborah Cheetham Fraillon with artists Byron J Scullin and Thomas Supple. It is designed to ‘lap’ at Melbourne’s riverbanks, moving with the water throughout the evening. It will begin at dusk each night of the festival, so be sure to stop and listen out for it, whether you’re heading home after work or on your way to see a show.

Various Melbourne locations
1—16 June

Feature Words by Art Guide Editors