Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic

Fri 23rd August, 2019 – Sun 25th August, 2019
Arts Centre Melbourne
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Arts Centre Melbourne’s sprawling weekend of multidisciplinary programming returns for a third year.

Australia may be saturated with music festivals, but it has only one Supersense. The three-day festival at Arts Centre Melbourne is a rare blend of traditional, contemporary and exotic music, dance and theatre, which this year can claim to be drawn from five continents.

For its third year, the accurately tagged “festival of the ecstatic” will again inhabit the many spaces in, under and around Arts Centre Melbourne that typically go unseen by audiences. Founded and curated by New York-based Australian artist Sophia Brous and Arts Centre Melbourne, Supersense began in 2015 with an unlikely bill ranging from Gurrumul Yunupingu to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

This year, the international drawcards start close to home, with New Zealand’s Aldous Harding appearing on the back of her career-high third album Designer and countryman Marlon Williams performing a one-off collaboration with The Impossible Orchestra. From Australia hail Yirinda, a duo blending ancient Indigenous language and borderless improvisation, as well as experimental heavyweights The Necks, in concert with the free jazz pioneers Art Ensemble of Chicago, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Theatre icon Robert Wilson will also direct and perform an exclusive staging of composer John Cage’s influential Lecture On Nothing.

The rest of the line-up is even more diverse, juxtaposing extremes in showcases entitled MINIMAL and MAXIMAL.

MINIMAL will feature English text and spoken-word artist Graham Lambkin, Canadian sound artist Crys Cole, local electronic-rock act Black Cab, veteran dancers performing work by the late choreographer Merce Cunningham, and Australian composer Samuel Dunscombe performing Horațiu Rădulescu's 1974 work for clarinet, mixed ensemble and 42 children. Aussie experimentalist James Rushford will also play a tailor-made microtonal version of a medieval portative organ for a recital of “annotations and commentaries on keyboard works” that bridges past and present.

Iranian hand drummer Mohammad Reza Mortazavi and Rully Shabara will each perform at MINIMAL and MAXIMAL; Shabara as part of Indonesia’s tribal dance trio Setabuhan, accompanied by a martial arts display. The remaining MAXIMAL slate includes synth-driven American fever dreamer John Maus alongside Afrofuturist punk rapper Moor Mother, Tasmanian post-punk duo the Native Cats, Kiwi art-pop duo Purple Pilgrims, chameleonic Liars frontman Angus Andrew and Sydney techno/noise agitator Lucy Cliché.

Dance performances are equally eclectic. Indonesian-born, Tokyo-based dancer and choreographer Rianto will bring to Melbourne, Medium, a celebration of Lengger, a cross gender dance form from Banyumas, while choreographer Kimberly Bartosik has worked in close collaboration for a year with a cast of dancers seeking to “locate where the desire for faith resides in the human form” to present I hunger for you. Both will run in the Fairfax Studio.

Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic runs from August 23 to 25. More details and tickets here.

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