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Artrage in Review

ArtrageEvery year Artrage presents a spectacular onslaught of original entertainment, the majority cultivated from the creative minds of local arts community members. To complement these, Artrage seeks out stunning gems from international icons, moments of inspiration so inspiring that even to mention their name sends shivers down the more knowing spine.

This year, as the jewel in the Ten Days On Artrage crown held recently in Northbridge, Artrage outdid themselves by showcasing the much celebrated collection of cinematic curios that is Matthew Barney’s The Cremaster Cycle. This body of work, comprised of five films totaling an epic eight hours of viewing, is a rich, brilliantly textured exploration of that moment within the womb when it is determined whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

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The result was a marathon of meaning which saw many house themselves up in RMAX for the better part of a Saturday or Sunday. The more sensible paced themselves with one film per night, screened across the space of a working week. Of course, this optical opus was further complimented with a screening of Barney’s more recent work, Drawing Restraint No. 9, which features himself and current love Bjork holed away inside two and a half hours of Japanese rituals. Pretentious, yes, but beautifully beguiling too.

The specially built Artrage performance venue, The Block, constructed on the old Pallas site, comprised of an expanse of green lawn with a circus tent that housed a huge stage, above which hung a stunning mirrorball chandelier. However, it was the giant wall of sea containers which surrounded the tent which proved most innovative, for each housed its own art installation.

These included The Living Screen, Bottle Tops, the interactive sound game Audiosity, the popular Pet Photo Booth (www.petphotobooth.com) and the return of Life Suit, an interactive sweatshop experience where participants went home with their own life suit. There was also the Suitcase Suite, a masked performance piece, which was also housed inside its own sea container.

The sea containers then took over James Street on Saturday November 4 when Artrage and The City of Perth presented The Northbridge Festival. The entire street became The Night Markets, an array of local merchandise scattered with art installations.

The evening culminated in The Crossfire Dance Spectacle, a dance-off produced by Claudia Alessi which took place across six stages (each a semi-trailer bed) and featuring over 50 forms of entertainment executed by over 200 performers. Yes, even drag featured, with MoTHER making boys of scene starlets Angelyne Wolfe and Tara Soh who cromped to the crowds delight in fluro orange, muttonchops and silver stenciled bowler hats.

Then, after the eruption of Feuerwasser (Dutch for fire fountain), The Bridge Fashion Spectacle exploded across the six stages, each one featuring a different label. This multi-staged event, co-produced by Kelly Salapak and myself, was accentuated by a costumed commotion atop the wall of sea containers itself, featuring creatures of couture from Connections Nightclub. Audacious in its scope, the entire piece was a loud, captivating optical onslaught.

Artrage has yet again amazed art crowds and average joes alike. Its vibrancy added to the Pride Parade of the previous weekend, making Northbridge a fun, lively place to be for a least one week of the year. Watch out in 2007, because Artrage is set to reach even dizzier heights.

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