Victoria’s flagship festival of music, food, art and culture is back in 2023, this year orbiting around Flinders Street Station in Melbourne. With 185 events featuring more than 400 artists—including 35 commissions and 12 world premieres—it can be hard knowing where to direct your attention. Here are our top recommendations for what not to miss.
The elusive abandoned top floor of Flinders Street Station is opening to the public for an important and atmospheric experience at this year’s RISING. Shadow Spirit an exhibition of 30 First Peoples artists and collectives who have transformed the rooms into something ethereal. The result is an immersive experience of deep and profound Ancestral systems of knowledge, both past and present. A must see for sure.
Julian Rosenfeldt’s 2015 multi-screen film installation Manifesto received acclaim for Cate Blanchett’s mesmerising performances across 13 roles. Rosenfeldt’s new work, Euphoria, transforms Melbourne Town Hall into an arena of screen and sound of surreal and epic proportions. It takes on everything from economics and capitalism to Snoop Dogg and Ayn Rand. And Blanchett makes an appearance as a tiger in a supermarket.
Dr G. Yunupiŋu, referred to as Gurrumul before his death, was one of Australia’s most beloved and revered musicians. His posthumously released album, Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow), celebrates his life and his Yolŋu family’s musical traditions. Buŋgul, meaning ceremony, is a hypnotic performance of the album, featuring Yolŋu dancers and songmen who are accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
If you’re looking for something to ignite the senses without breaking the budget, Spark is a visual performance of light being released above Fed Square every evening of RISING, free for anyone who chooses to simply look up. Dutch artist Daan Roosegarde has created a flock of biodegradable sparks that are released into the air like atmospheric bioluminescence. First demonstrated in Bilbao, Spark is as thoughtful as it is beautiful. Roosegard’s studio creates environmental art with an intention, and Spark was designed as a sustainable alternative to fireworks.
Those missing White Night since it went regional will enjoy the large-scale spirit projections from Aunty Zeta Thomson (Wurundjeri/Yorta Yorta) that are to adorn Hamer Hall. We saw a similar project in 2021 with Maree Clarke (Mutti Mutti/Yorta Yorta/BoonWurrung) and Mitch Mahoney’s (BoonWurrung/Barkinji) Spirit Eel projection Ancestral Memory, which was accompanied by Aunty Zeta’s work projected onto passing trams. Now, she takes the main canvas.
Anthem is a large-scale sound and video collaboration between artist Wu Tsang and folk icon Beverly Glenn-Copeland. It was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2021 and has been adapted for its Melbourne debut. It is being held in St Paul’s Cathedral, which is going to provide whole new elements of symbolism and reverberation through the gothic architecture. It’s free and unticketed, so you can simply wander in to take a look. Be prepared to spend all night amongst the pews though.
Austrian choreographer and performance artist Florentina Holzinger has been described as “the Tarantino of dance”, and her latest feminist bloodbath lives up to the reputation. Since its premier in Vienna, TANZ has had audiences faint, walk out in disgust, and applaud with furore. None of this is new for Holzinger, who’s extremist style has always had as many detractors as fans. Expect to be uncomfortable.
Seoul performance and installation artist Geumhyung Jeong has two projects being performed at RISING this year. The first is Oil Pressure Vibrator, in which she uses a 20-ton excavator to explore the complexities of desire and sexuality. It blends performance and video works and is being narrated live (with English subtitles) in ACMI 2. The second work, Under Maintenance, is at Arts House and sees her tending to the needs of her DIY robots. The audience is invited into her robot maintenance workshop to get a close-up look. The connection between the works is evident; both dissect that relationship between the body and the machine, and ask integral questions about coexisting life and technology.
Tin & Ed is the creative duo of Tin Nguyen & Edward Cutting. Visitors to RISING 2022 might remember their giant installations roaming The Wilds at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and may be excited to hear they are constructing a similar project. Multitudes consists of reimagined deep-sea creatures in the form of inflatable sculptures and they’re being house in the Atrium at Fed Square this year.
Night Trade is the centre of RISING. A pit-stop, a meeting place, somewhere to grab a drink before or wind up to at the end of a night. You can expect DJs, performances, a barbecue, warm beverages, shelter for rest, a…ahem…giant negroni tank (!), and many more delights. It’s being held in the St Paul’s Cathedral car park, so easy access to whatever you were planning on seeing that night. The space has been created by Peurto Rican identical twin brothers who go by the creative name Poncili Creación and are known for the particular brand of tactical surrealism.