Next Wave Festival announces 2020 Season

From 15 – 31 May, a cohort of inspiring and visionary artists form a government to address, probe and answer society’s most pressing issues for Next Wave Festival 2020.

As Australia’s leading national festival for early career artists and the only one to present 100% new work, Next Wave will premiere 28 commissions that respond to today’s concerns with ambitious artistic expression.

Alongside these works, the 17-day festival will present public programs, parties and public interventions across Melbourne.

In 2019, Next Wave put out a national call for artists to ‘form a Government’. Responding to a divisive political ecology, major environmental destabilisation, growing economic inequality and competing historical and cultural narratives, artists were invited to set the agenda for change.

“Artists are some of our nation’s most critical and visionary thinkers. What becomes possible if we put artists in charge? What becomes possible if we centre ourselves in a political framework that prioritises listening, acknowledges complexity and strives for working-it-out-together? This festival harnesses art to rethink how we can co-exist in this volatile time and place. This festival is a collective demonstration – an act of showing-by-doing. This is not governance as you know it,” said Roslyn Helper, Next Wave Director/CEO.

Encompassing the essence of trailblazing performance that Next Wave Festival is known for, is Beast of Burden of Proof. Tasmanian performance maker Alex Last invites the audience to serve as jury members in the trial of restorative ecological justice to decide the controversial Myna bird’s fate. The decision is laced with irreversible consequences as the jury judge the facts and deliberate together.

Poona | Photo by Roshelle Fong and Keziah Warner

Another program highlight asks what news stories aren’t we hearing, and why? In Influence Operation, artist collective Make Or Break (NSW) seek to reclaim the 24-hour news cycle from powerful corporate agendas and algorithmic bias. Camped out in a black-ops newsroom, audiences join civic hackers, journalists and media influencers to take back the news, with content broadcast on news tickers across town.

Melbourne collective, New Wayfinders asks, how do we enact slow governance? To go forward softly and very gently is an exhibition contemplating the severity of actions made in haste responding to the Samoan concept of Fai fai lemu (go forward softly and very gently). This multidisciplinary project features new artworks by Yasbelle Kerkow, Vicki Kinai, Florence Tupuola and Peter Lemalu.

In 1997, the controversial book, Pauline Hanson: The Truth imagined Australia in the year 2050, run by Poona, a “lesbian… of Indian and Chinese background” and… a cyborg. Multidisciplinary artist Roshelle Fong and playwright Keziah Warner, both from Victoria, bring Poona to life in this timely immersive theatre work eponymously titled Poona. Audience members serve as Poona campaign staffers on election night in one of the tightest presidential runs in history.

Indigenous understandings take the 1886 eruption of Aotearoa’s Mount Tarawera as punishment for the exploitation of the mountain for tourist trade.In this intercultural and interdisciplinary
theatre work ORA | mate, New South Wales company, Black Birds asks how Indigenous and Non-Indigenous knowledge systems can co-function to help us prevent looming, large-scale environmental disasters.

Artist Libby Harward’s deadstream_DABILBUNG (Broken Water) is an immersive installation centering on the issues facing fresh and saltwater, country and culture. This multidisciplinary project amplifies years of lobbying from Aboriginal Custodians around the traditional governance of our waterways travelling Harward’s ancestral country in the Quandamooka to the ecosystems of the Bidgee and the Barka (Murray-Darling Basin).

The program takes a fun yet considered U-turn with Bruno Booth’s Dead ends & detours – a large-scale participatory art installation, where players are challenged to navigate their way in a wheelchair through an obstacle course of sculptures and site-specific interventions.

In Leisuretime 1, a photographic intervention by Aaron Claringbold and Rebecca McCauley, audiences view Birrarung/Yarra as never before. Float along the river seated within a camera obscura, disembodied from the outside world and experience surroundings reversed and upside-down, projected onto the ferry’s walls.

White Line Fever is a series of training sessions for AFL supporters of all creeds to embrace the deep energies of fandom. Artists Matt Aitken and Lyndon Blue with the White Line Fever coaching team, usher spectators through some remarkable recent footy history, reliving the rituals and ecstasy of our national game. Expect devotional drills, rivalry rites and whiteboard magnetism to purge toxic pigskin energies and lift long-held curses.

In his first major solo performance project, Marcus Whale’s Possession draws on horror film tropes of the monster queer. This electronic feedback opera-for-one is a magical summoning – a longing for communion with the invisible, where the performer’s body moves and is moved by, sound.

Just as a dressage horse is rewarded for its performance, human bodies confined to the nine to five existence are rewarded with a wage. Alternately mournful, sensual and violent, Sydney choreographer and dancer, Ivey Wawn’s In Perpetuity uses dance, music, scent and language to question our relationships to capital, to history and to each other.

Milk & Honey & Lemons by Sydney-based playwright Moreblessing Maturure takes us into a residence nestled in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. A picture of modern migration, Milk & Honey & Lemons asks us to reckon with the art of survival practiced on our street corners, school yards and in our minds – all through the lens of a boy. In a hoodie. Of African appearance.

Kalanjay Dhir’s Livestream is an exhibition that explores the lived and spiritual histories of Sydney’s Paramatta River. Drawing on his own cultural experience having grown up by the river, he uses video, performance and sculpture to map a configuration of water systems as vast information sites to communicate with future societies.

In rruytina: above and below, artist Neika Lehman recovers and reconnects the stories entombed at Australia’s first offshore detention centre, paying tribute to the Aboriginal women buried there. In this immersive film installation, multiple screens are positioned like portals, using Indigenous astronomy to navigate the viewer back to the sites of the stories.

Everyone is Famous | Photo by Pia Johnson

The program also includes:

Belinda Locke’s Under My Tongue – A dance work about fear, intimacy, longing for connection and the things we hide.

Warraba Weatherall’s The Revolution Will Not Be Aestheticised – An exhibition that draws on Australian archives to demonstrate how racial stereotypes are seeded in colonial doctrine and perpetuated by Western scientific knowledge systems.

Ben Brooker’s Below The Line – An urgent theatre work on climate denialism, online comment culture, and our complicity in the unfolding catastrophe of climate change.

Ngioka Bunda-Heath’s Birrpai – A dance project and photographic exhibition that draws parallels between the colonial gaze and today’s selfie culture.

Isabella Whāwhai Waru’s Kaitiaki: Striking Lava – A dance work honouring Indigenous resilience, mana, regeneration, and healing in the face of ongoing violation of Indigenous lands and peoples across geographies and communities.

Nana Biluš Abaffy & Parvin Saljoughi’s GREEN NASIM – An experimental choreographic work set inside a highjacked cinema where a couple of antirealists start making motivational animal propaganda dance videos.

Riot Stage’s Everyone Is Famous – 11 teenagers wade through the wasteland of the internet in a theatrical experiment, exploring the ways we make ourselves into our own image.

Rachel Meyer’s Southern Ecophony – Listen to the deep ecosystems of remote Tasmanian forests as you take an augmented sound walk through the streets of Brunswick.

Daz Chandler’s The Parallel Effect – Travel through an interdimensional rift to a world where global action and leadership on climate change has prevailed.

Nanette Orly & Andy Butler’s Shifting Centre – A process-driven exhibition that explores modes of collaboration, shared knowledge and community building.

re:group performance collective’s Coil – A human-powered Rube Goldberg machine shoots a movie live on stage, with one performer from the collective chosen at random each night, tasked with playing an entire ensemble cast.

Sapna Chandu & Michael Warnock’s Filter My Prejudice – Bollywood memes meet mindfulness in this playful public art campaign that challenges our culture of othering, and guides audiences through the psychology of prejudice.

Efren Pamilacan & Lay The Mystic’s Counterbalance – A choose-your-own adventure performance collaboration that holds emotion over regulation, bodies over corporates – a collectivism that restructures the way we govern.

fine print magazine’s RALLY – A contemplative afternoon of discussion, performance and poetry; fine print magazine invites artists and thinkers to respond to and reflect on ‘A Government of Artists’.

15 – 31 May 2020

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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