A Fes­ti­val of Ideas, Arts & Ac­tion

Dan­ger­ous ideas are out at the Opera House and so­lu­tions are in,

Time Out (Sydney) - - Things To Do - writes Emma Joyce

“When ev­ery­thing is feel­ing poi­sonous you need art and cul­ture and ideas to stop the poi­son”

AF­TER EIGHT YEARS of run­ning the Fes­ti­val of Dan­ger­ous Ideas, Syd­ney Opera House has de­cided to can the con­tro­ver­sial talks and ideas event to make way for a new event called An­ti­dote: A Fes­ti­val of Ideas, Art & Ac­tion. The new two-day fes­ti­val in­cludes speak­ers and per­form­ers who push for change in chal­leng­ing times – cov­er­ing racism, fem­i­nism, LGBTQIA rights, en­vi­ron­men­tal in­jus­tice, the refugee cri­sis, colo­nial­ism, cap­i­tal­ism, and satire in a world of fright­en­ing news sto­ries. Cu­ra­tor Danielle Har­vey says the change was in re­sponse to what she thinks au­di­ences want and need to hear. “It felt like we’ve had ex­cel­lent dis­cus­sion about what’s wrong – now we have a re­sponse to that with so­lu­tions to the world’s prob­lems. We’ve se­lected artists, speak­ers and do­ers who are quite hope­ful in what they’re try­ing to do or change.”

One ma­jor high­light from the pro­gram is a free du­ra­tional per­for­mance called ‘Chero­pho­bia’ by Noëmi Lak­maier, who will be sus­pended in the air by 20,000 bal­loons for nine hours. Lak­maier ex­plores the con­cepts of re­straint, con­trol and de­sire through her per­for­mance. “It’s a great metaphor for the fes­ti­val,” says Har­vey. Per­for­mance art and par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­pe­ri­ences make up a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of An­ti­dote’s pro­gram­ming. For ex­am­ple, The Money, by UK-based in­ter­ac­tive the­atre group Kalei­der, will give par­tic­i­pants the chance to ar­gue over how to spend a col­lec­tive pot of cash. There’ll be tra­di­tional speaker events too, which are all tick­eted (start­ing from $25). In­ter­na­tional guests in­clude Reni Eddo-Lodge (au­thor of Why I’m No Longer Talk­ing to

White Peo­ple About Race); trans­gen­der rights ac­tivist Janet Mock (au­thor of Re­defin­ing Real­ness and con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor for Marie Claire); the mas­ter­minds be­hind satir­i­cal web­site The Onion; and Tamika D Mal­lory – na­tional co-chair of Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton. Then there’s Amani Al-Khataht­beh, the founder and ed­i­tor of Mus­limGirl, and Rut­ger Breg­man, au­thor of Utopia for Real­ists – who be­lieves in a 15-hour work­ing week and a uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come. Aus­tralian speak­ers in­clude Un­cle Jack Charles and Archie Roach, who’ll close the fes­ti­val with a per­for­mance on Sun­day evening called Sto­ries & Songs of Re­silience. Ce­leste Lid­dle (cre­ator of Rant­ings of an Abo­rig­i­nal Fem­i­nist) is giv­ing a talk. And Syd­ney Mardi Gras ’78er Julie McCrossin will be dis­cussing women’s and gay rights. One of the more ex­plicit rep­re­sen­ta­tions of ac­tivism is called ‘Blank Plac­ard Dance, Re­ply’ by Anne Col­lad, who’s re­vis­it­ing Anna Hal­prin’s per­for­mance in San Fran­cisco 50 years ago. Peo­ple will march through Syd­ney with blank plac­ards to en­cour­age au­di­ences to ques­tion what con­sti­tutes con­tem­po­rary ac­tivism. In ad­di­tion, there’ll be talks from hus­band­hus­band team Martin Good­man and James Thorn­ton on how we’re treat­ing the planet; The Vagina Mono­logues cre­ator Eve Ensler, who’ll re­flect on 20 years since the play was first staged; North Korean es­capee Yeonmi Park; In­dian MP Shashi Tha­roor; and a hip-hop per­for­mance by Inua El­lams called ‘An Evening with an Im­mi­grant’. Har­vey says An­ti­dote is a “hope­ful” event. “When ev­ery­thing is feel­ing poi­sonous you need some­thing to stop the poi­son. The power of art and cul­ture and ideas is the an­ti­dote.” à Syd­ney Opera House, Ben­ne­long Point 2000. 02 9250 7111. an­ti­dote.syd­ney­op­er­a­house.com. Sep 2-3.

‘Chero­pho­bia’ by Noëmi Lak­maier Inu Ellems: An Evening with an Im­mi­grant

Mus­limGirl ed­i­tor Amani Al-Khataht­beh

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