Art, Not Apart festival ready to shake Canberra up

Art, Not Apart festival ready to shake Canberra up

Never mind shaking your booty, the Art, Not Apart festival team wants Canberrans to "shake their souls" at this year's event on March 18.

The line-up includes gender-bending performance artists, a troupe of naked pianists, rehearsed and raw rhymes at a brand new Poet Tree and a 100m long collaborative street art project along Edinburgh Avenue. All underpinned by a festival soundtrack that includes authentic Romani gypsy music, electronica and hip-hop.

The creative team behind the Art, Not Apart festival in Canberra on March 18. Back row: Anna Trundle, program manager; David Williams, visual art curator; Chenoeh Miller, performance art curator; Frank Madrid, music curator. Front row: Sam Dignand, film and moving image curator; Kayti Schenk, street art coordinator.

The creative team behind the Art, Not Apart festival in Canberra on March 18. Back row: Anna Trundle, program manager; David Williams, visual art curator; Chenoeh Miller, performance art curator; Frank Madrid, music curator. Front row: Sam Dignand, film and moving image curator; Kayti Schenk, street art coordinator.Credit:Martin Ollman

More than 200 performance and visual artists - and some who defy genre - will converge on New Acton and new partner venue the National Film and Sound Archive for the festival. This year's theme is "Shake It Up".

Festival producer David Caffery described Art, Not Apart as "like holding a mirror up to Canberra".


"It's a reflection of local culture, this is like holding a mirror up to Canberra," Mr Caffery said.

"Everything is available to view in one day - all beautifully presented, with world class gallery spaces, world class sound systems and world class cinemas for local artists.

"We'll have lots of performance installations all over the festival, you won't be able to take 10 steps without seeing something new and interesting on the day."

We asked the curators of the four streams - visual arts, music, performance art and film - to tell us their picks for the day.

Chenoeh Miller
Performance art

This year's performance component is all about the performers … that might sound obvious. What I mean is that each of them strut and fret their hour upon the stage, and they don't need bells and whistles. It's all about their unique talents, their ideas and their bodies in space.

We have been blessed by their passion to create something quality for a Canberra audience. The result is a program of performative gifts for the audience, incorporating talent from across the capital. We've got installation pieces throughout the precinct including a large group of tap dancers, flashmobs, physical theatre and some unlikely clowns – all of whom will be on the ground in among the crowd.

One of my great pleasures over the past five years has been directing Sound and Fury – the performance art after party. Sound and Fury is hosted by the Sound and Fury Ensemble – a group of multi-talented performers who have become integral to the party. A ballerina, CSO musicians, butoh dancers, poets and singers – it is rare to find a group of heterogeneous performers who are both committed to their own artistic realm and who willing to create work together.

In 2017, we are thrilled to move to the NFSA gallery and to quadruple our audience capacity. Yes, it's a party with two bars and great music all night. But unlike anything else you've ever seen, it is a platform of brilliant local performance art – with the non-Canberran exceptions of Yana Alana, our international cabaret star, and Julia Croft's show 'If There's No Dancing At The Revolution Then I'm Not Coming' fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe.

Tess Said So scores the classic film

Tess Said So scores the classic film

Sam Dignand
​Film and moving image

This year heralds an exploration into film and moving image with an emphasis on experimental projection works, interactive video installations and world class independent documentaries.

One of the highlights is a unique live scored performance of F.W. Murnau's iconic cinematic masterpiece Nosferatu, by the highly acclaimed Tess Said So. The duo combine piano, vibraphone, tubular bells and percussion to create a deeply engaging and immersive sonic expression of one of the great pieces of german expressionism known to history.

My aim this year was to truly "shake up" the often one-sided perception of cinema. It can, and should be challenging. There are works that will throw you off, reel you in, enrapture you, comfort you and disengage you from reality. We're lucky to have a strong, emerging and established filmmaking community here in the ACT and this iconic and eclectic festival is a brilliant way to expose our artists to a wider audience.

Those wishing to sink their teeth in early in the festival can catch the premiere of Monsieur Mayonnaise, a tale woven with rich visual style is an incredible true story of mayonnaise sandwiches, Nazis and a hand-painted comic book.

Lolo Lovina features in the Art, Not Apart festival in Canberra on March 18, 2017.

Lolo Lovina features in the Art, Not Apart festival in Canberra on March 18, 2017.

Frank Madrid

Curating a program responding to our theme was a wonderful challenge. Thinking of ways to shake our bodies, our souls and our minds I embarked upon a fascinating journey feeding of the energy of Canberra's music scene, a response to having Art Not Apart as a platform for discovery and experimentation.

Our music program will undoubtedly shake you. The pulsating sound of the drum will be a continuous presence around the festival with plenty of Arabic, African, Brazilian and Asian drumming and dancing. Fierce Flamenco by Triptick Trio, featuring the extraordinary drummer Evan Yako will leave you breathless while Lolo Lovina, Australia's only ethnic Romani band, fronted by the extraordinary Sarah Bedak will make your heart rate surge with their quirky take on Balkan beats while The Escalators will blend swing, the funk of New Orleans and the rhythmic pulse of Jamaica to keep the party going. Unmissable acts include Taiko drumming by David Hewitt's Yuon, New Fado by visiting Portuguese act Villa Navio and the astonishing saxophone quartet Nexas. Having DJ Lauren Neko performing at ANA is a privilege and so is welcoming back MC Sheba Williams but the showstopper has to be the divine award winning cabaret queen Yana Alana.David Williams

David Williams
Visual art

Visual artists have responded enthusiastically and a wide variety of work in all media has been selected for the exhibition. It's very exciting to see the younger artists expressing great ideas with such enthusiasm and maturity.

Female artists are in the majority. Their imaginative, often collaged abstractions dominate this very colourful exhibition.

Many of the exhibitors are recent graduates from the ANU School of Art and some are artists whose work we have seen before. The art on display conveys a sense of urgency which shakes up many conventional views of contemporary art.

My highlight has been curating the Shake It Up exhibition in Nishi Gallery, launching the day before the festival on Friday, March 17. Quirky sculptures by Luke Chiswell and Sian Watson which greet the visitor on arrival at the Gallery, a large wall piece which flows on to the floor by Franki Sparke and intricate, textured, complex paintings by Sanne Koelemij, Dionisia Salas and Amy Campbell are highlights of the exhibition. A challenging digital video by Josh Owen requires close attention of the viewer for a full appreciation of the work which skilfully morphs realistic images into curious abstractions.

Viewers are invited to consider what's motivating the image making of these artists and its sense of urgency. What does the art on display all mean? Is it the bewildering pace of life which impacts on the way the artists see their place in the ever changing world of today … image making which shakes it up?

Art, Not Apart festival, Saturday March 18, across New Acton, the National Film and Sound Archive and Fyshwick. Free for all ages. More information and full program of events at

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

Karen Hardy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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