Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Underbelly Review

I really enjoyed this music and arts festival. Good things are happening at The Carriageworks. This is my little tiny review as it appeared in Drum Media.


I fucked up with this one. I didn’t arrive early enough. I should have gone through the fortnight leading up to Saturday night to check out all the works in progress that would culminate in what turned out to be a pretty amazing music and arts fest. But at least I made it along on Saturday night... did you?

The Carriageworks is a wonderful venue and Underbelly utilised its full potential. It was a visual and aural wonderland, a spellbinding feast for the senses that had this writer wandering around in the daze of a delighted child.

I tried scanning the program to see which performances and installations I wanted to see but in the end gave in and simply allowed myself to be swept along by the ebb and flow of the very colourful crowd. First up I found myself in a darkened room watching a whimsical shadow puppet show about a kid called Minkhead and her friend Bumpy to the sound accompaniment of Meem, and I was completely enchanted.

I was less enchanted by Aural Adventures, a kind of musical game show where the audience held up coloured cards to put the band through hoops; it was kind of funny but basically one joke that went on for too long, and there was too much else going on outside to stay in one place for ¾ of an hour. You couldn’t help but be restless.

Wandering, wandering. Nooks, crannies, sit down and become part of the artwork, expect the unexpected. Magical things were done with shapes and shadows and lighting; a room appeared to have been recently vacated by its down-and-out inhabitants; a suspended block of ice dripped into a pool casting mesmerizing shadows across a concrete wall while a thousand downy feathers swirled underfoot in the chilly winter night air. A maze of giant screens hung from the high ceiling and carried moving images of modern day trains in this cavernous relic; at other times the sculptures were tiny, intricate things. At yet other unexpected moments a seemingly impromptu work of flesh and blood would explode into living art and draw a crowd of surprised and delighted onlookers.

Underbelly played to a capacity crowd and was a wonderful success. I want another one please.

The Underbelly public arts lab & Festival was on at The Carriageworks from 3 – 14 July.


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