Picks of the Underbelly Arts Festival

July 24, 2015

Had a look at our program and not sure where to start?

We’ve asked some of our arts heroes for tips to help you navigate UA15, and start building your list of not-to-be-missed works.

BadMuddaNEWLisa Havilah, Director, Carriageworks

I always look forward to underbelly arts and this year I can’t wait to see

A new soap opera by James Nguyen + Salote Tawale, Bad Mudda.

Tully Arnot’s incredible Digital Forest at an entirely new scale

and the Tutti Frutti Dream Factory – anything that includes Rosie Deacon I am already in love with

Pictured: Bad Mudda, James Nguyen & Salote Tawale


BHENJI-RAJeff Khan, Artistic Director, Performance Space

The Bowling Club Medley – Bhenji Ra and the Bay Angels: Bhenji is a fearless interdisciplinary maker, and their practice is a unique fusion of their dance training, Filipino cultural heritage, and interest in queer politics and aesthetics.

Wait Until Called – Amy Spiers: she is not afraid of uncomfortable subject matter, and her work addresses some of the most important social and political situations of our time.

Death of Affect restaged with a return to the Japanese Nude 2017 – Atlanta Eke: she has such an expansive approach to what dance practice might be. Her work never fails to engage, question and provoke.

Pictured: The Bowling Club Medley Bhenji Ra and the Bay Angels

Talia Linz, Curator, Artspace

Upon Contemplating the Sunset / Upon Contemplating the Sunrise – Daniel Jenatsch
I love the romance of this proposition, reaching out to the sun as collaborator and taking advantage of the Island’s natural isolation to create a work that is experienced alone.

Conspiracy talk series curated by Astrid Lorange
Astrid’s projects are always really interesting so this is sure to be a collective of fascinating and inspiring minds

The Soul Train Express – Caroline Garcia
This work apparently combines the revival of disco with Kanye West-esque faux hologrammy stuff, so I’m intrigued.

Pictured: Upon Contemplating the Sunset Daniel Jenatsch

110percentKelly McDonald, Assistant Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Holiday Feelings – 110%: After seeing their show at Archive Space earlier this year, as well as their performance at SUPPER by Underbelly Arts, I can’t wait to see what they have planned!

Island Salon – Sophie Kitson, Angela Garrick, Danielle Zorbas: The line-up for Island Salon features so many of my favourite artists making work today… Ella Condon, Kate Brown, Hissy Fit just to name a few.

The Airrarium – Emily Parsons-Lord: I heard about Emily’s project at the mentor speed-dating and am so intrigued. It sounds as though it will be something incredible to experience.

Pictured: Holiday Feelings 110%

WHITENOISEEliza Sarlos, Artistic Director, Underbelly Arts

Like picking a favourite kid, this is impossible. Instead, here are a couple of must-see’s from this year’s Underbelly Arts Festival

White Noise – Amala Groom & Nicole Monks: Nicole and Amala are exceptional artists, so to see them collaborate on a work is something pretty exciting. To have that collaboration take over the Dogleg tunnel in a wholly immersive journey across their experience of colonisation has resulted in a really bold, powerful work. Both Amala and Nicole both have so much to say and a really deep appreciation of audience in choosing to say it through their art.

2/3 – Gregory Stauffer & Bastien Gachet: I got introduced to this work via Les Urbaines, an amazing festival that happens in Lausanne, Switzerland, and I’m very grateful that I did. Their work is a really wonderful meditation on space, site and perspective, an incredible choreography of movement that carves out something bigger within the landscape. I can’t wait to see it created on Cockatoo Island.

Soft Concrete – Lucy Phelan: I’ve loved Lucy’s work since I first heard her perform with Naked on the Vague. I’m so excited that with co-curator Emma Ramsay we were able to convince her to think about her practice in a contemporary arts space, and that she’s developing an installation based on sounds from Cockatoo Island. Her approach to music is phenomenal and to see that collide with space will be something quite spectacular.

Pictured: White Noise, Amala Groom & Nicole Monks

23NEWKieran Swann, Programming Manager, Metroarts

Wait Until Called – Amy Spiers: I nearly saw Amy’s work Nothing to See Here (Dispersal) (with Catherine Ryan) at FOLA last year – but had to race away to make my flight. I definitely wouldn’t miss the chance to see this one – I’m really interested in Amy’s incisive yet sparse, creative and critical, deeply political and engaging work.

2/3 – Bastien Gachet & Gregory Stauffer:  How exciting for Underbelly to lure over these acclaimed Swiss artists! I’ve watched numerous videos of their work 2/3 – and I love the simple and elongated way their bodies and hands carve out such precise yet ephemeral intervention in our field of vision. Such a grand and time-consuming effort; a work that exists across such a broad space and only in one pin-point all at once.

Mirrored Ziggurat – Shirin Abedinirad: I would love to spend hours slowly climbing the mirrored ziggurat – directly connected to the clouds above, the image of Sydney’s blue sky sitting alongside the dark concrete and earth of Cockatoo Island. A simple, stark and beautiful counterpoint, and an understated offer to take time with the earth, the sky, the work.

Pictured: 2/3, Gregory Stauffer & Bastien Gachet. Image credit Chloe Tun Tun




Angharad Wynne-Jones, Artistic Director, Arts House

The Bowling Club Medley, Featuring the Bay Angels – Bhenji Ra: The fabulous Bhenji Ra, who I met on last year’s brilliant Time_Place_Space: Nomad adventures, and his collaboration with the Bay Angels.

Death of Affect Restaged with a Return to the Japanese Nude 2017, Atlanta Eke: Achingly smart.

Hectoring Apocalyptica: Nathan Harrison, Jake Pember, Emma McManus & Rachel Roberts: Members of  The Applespiel team are gathering around water … So I am keen to participate in that urgent discussion and meet some newbies.

Plus Matt Shilock and Friends with Deficits to name a few. And forum facilitated by Mish from post –  all on the island Wareamah in the most beautiful Harbour in the world. What could be better?

Pictured: Death of Affect Restaged with a Return to the Japanese Nude 2017, Atlanta Eke. Image credit Gabriel Clark