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A Curators’ Guide to RISING 2023

Mon 3 April

Program picks from the people working in the festival’s molten core—our 2023 curators.

Hannah Fox, Co-Artistic Director

Consort of the Moon


“I had the great pleasure of experiencing this choral ritual in the development stage. I was struck by the effect of many voices—highly trained and untrained—collectively evoking the crescendo of nature’s chorus in the fading light of day, with an ancient hymn coming in and out of focus. It’s a beautiful, imaginative work and an invitation to take part in a ritual for our times.”


Oh Deer!

OH DEER! by APHIDS. Photo: Tommy Thoms.

“Lara Thoms and Aphids often enlist people from inside and outside the arts to work together and elicit multiple perspectives on a political or cultural issue. In Oh Deer! artists and adults who’ve lost a parent will dive into the orphan trope that’s so prevalent in pop culture and ancient tales. Like all their works, Oh Deer! is a truly experimental process of making and a brand-new commission. So, I can’t say with any authority what the outcome will be. But what I am sure of is the cultural relevance of their subject matter and their ability to make work that’s deeply considered, fearlessly queer and full of humour and humanity.”


Oil Pressure Vibrator

Oil Pressure Vibrator by Geumhyung Jeong. Photo: Karolina Miernik.

“The first time I witnessed Geumhyung Jeong’s work was at Asia Topa’s XO State (curated by Gideon). I recall feeling quite awkward in my audience role as a voyeur into what seemed like a medical sexual emergency. From there, I followed her work closely and we’re thrilled to be bringing Oil Pressure Vibrator to Melbourne. It serves as a great introduction to her body of work, which harnesses her skill as a master puppeteer and moves well beyond the idea of anthropomorphising objects, machines, and robots into a much more complex relationship with herself.”


Gideon Obarzanek, Co-Artistic Director



“Head over to a completely transformed Melbourne Town Hall, and experience Euphoria. This massive film and music installation literally positions you at the centre of artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt’s grand take on capitalism—mass production and euphoric consumption, the haves and have-nots, how we got here and what the future might look like. Exclusive to RISING, Euphoria’s slick production and epic scale is only matched by the enormity and seductive shine of its subject.”



TANZ by Florentina Holzinger. Photo: Nada Žgank.

“Florentina Holzinger begins her show at the ballet barre, the most obsessive training device for physical spectacle and its disciplining. Her dutiful dancers then rip open the romantic ballerina archetype to reveal suspended ghosts frustrated with desire and vengeful anger. With high flying stunts, blood and sex, TANZ is not a tasteful evening of high culture. But it’s very funny and I suspect if Quentin Tarantino did feminist-performance-art, this is what it would look like.”


The Rink at RISING

Rinky Dink, 2022. The Wilds—RISING. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

“Wander down to the riverbank and get your skates on at The Rink at RISING. You can slice up the ice under the shimmering glow of a galactic star-scape, or just get toasty by the fire with delicious snacks, hot chocolate and whisky cocktails. Is it art? I don’t know, but it’s a great way to skate into winter.”


Kimberley Moulton, Artistic Associate (Shadow Spirit)

“My top pics ignite the spirit of other realms—the way we connect to each other universally and how country speaks to all of us.”

Shadow Spirit

Artwork by John Prince Siddon. Courtesy of the artist.

Shadow Spirit will be an experience not to be missed. Come up to the iconic Flinders Street Station Level 3 rooms and immerse yourself if First Peoples’ contemporary art that responds to dynamic stories of our connections to the spirit worlds, and of time and memory.”



Anthem by Wu Tsang. Courtesy of the Artist.

“Jump over to St Paul's Cathedral to Anthem by Wu Tsang and Beverly Glenn-Copeland to hear and see a work that connects humanity through voice. Listen deeply with your heart.”


Electric and First Peoples’ Melbourne Art Trams

A tram cruises through the city in the early morning light. The tram is brightly coloured, mostly pink and reds. The tram says 'BLAK LOVE' in big bold letters.

'BLAK LOVE' by Paola Balla, 2022. Melbourne Art Trams—RISING. Photo: Kirti Jain

Ancestral Memory by Maree Clark and Mitch Mahoney, 2021. RISING. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

Ancestral Memory by Maree Clark and Mitch Mahoney, 2021. RISING. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

“From Anthem, it’s a short walk to the bridge. Look across the Birrarung and see the large-scale projection on Hamer Hall by esteemed Elder Aunty Zeta Thomson. In this year’s Electric projection, she’s sharing her story of Ancestor spirits called Mookies. While you’re there you may see some of the First Peoples' Melbourne Art Trams roll by sharing artwork that looks to our futures.”


Hayley Percy, Head of Music


Kutcha Edwards. Courtesy of the artist.

“This show is very special to me. It's an entirely new concept that Senior Songman Uncle Kutcha Edwards and RISING have been cooking up for a while now. We’ve been working with Uncle Kutcha, Jason Tamiru and Fiona Dean in bringing together an All-Star crew for a one-off night of Blak music, ceremony, tradition, and storytelling in a soulful, family sing-a-long.

It’s very much Blak anthemic songs that’ll be based on the NITV’s Koorioke concept in a live format at The Forum. Artists include Joe Geia and Bart Willoughby (No Fixed Address), Barkaa, Fred Leone, Alice Skye, Dobby, Moju Juju, Maylene Yinnar, Bumpy, Emily Wurramara, Shellie Morris, Richie Gymalla (Black Rock Band), Linc Yow Yeh, Robert Champion, Jay Jarome Bushby, Sue Ray and many more.

Waripa is a Ceremony that brings together the young and old to celebrate the First Peoples anthems that have shaped the Blak artistic landscape in this country for the past 40 years. It will be a family affair running afternoon into night on the public holiday eve. A first ever one-off event I really recommend getting around!”


Shadow Spirit

Shadow Spirit. By RISING.

“If there are two things I love, it’s mob and it’s the supernatural spooky elements within our universe and lore. These combined make me so excited for this incredibly programmed show by Kimberley Moulton. I cannot wait to see the historic ballroom transformed into a conduit for knowledge sharing and storytelling centring around the esoteric heart of First Peoples' culture.”


The Damned and Witch

The Damned. Courtesy of the artist.

The Damned. Courtesy of the artist.

Witch. Courtesy of the artist.

Witch. Courtesy of the artist.

“Among the first of the UK punks and massively intrinsic to the ‘77 punk scene with their debut release Damned Damned Damned and again with their 1979 record Machine Gun Etiquette. This show is as historic as it gets for the birth of punk and goth glam! They’re returning with original founding members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible at the helm. Meanwhile Witch, to me, are one of the ultimate supergroups. All members have so many other projects past and current, so the fact they’ve never been to Aus and are playing their first ever Australian show for RISING is beyond unmissable to me! They’re also massive Damned fans so they’ll be putting on their very best show.”


Grace Herbert, Artistic Associate (Visual Arts)

Black Mass

Getty Images.

“A club night with such a star-studded line up, and a curatorial framework around it that makes it feel like a mini festival itself.”


Poncili Creación

Poncili Creacion. Photo: Walter Wlozarczyk.

“To be biased, Poncili Creación’s reality-breaking bus, puppet show, and general transformation of Night Trade is super fresh. It’s high fun, high energy, ridiculousness, and their work doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before!”


Liv.e and Obongjayar

Liv.e. Courtesy of the artist.

Liv.e. Courtesy of the artist.

Obongjayar. Courtesy of the artist.

Obongjayar. Courtesy of the artist.

“Just an incredible double bill.”


Zowie Minchin, Food & Beverage Curator


“Alongside my nights filled with programmed events, I’d reserve an evening for a choose-your-own-adventure tour of the street culture on offer within the festival. Starting at Night Trade presented by Up, I would snack on some Free to Feed BBQ eats with a cold tinnie in hand.

From there I would walk up to Chapter House—via the champagne and oyster bar—and get amongst the Haitian street party vibes at Ghetto Biennale. If I was all partied out, I’d head down along Birrarung Marr to The Rink at RISING for a night cap of boozy hot chocolate by Mörk Chocolate and Archie Rose.

If I was still up for partying I’d head back to Night Trade presented by Up to see what chaos Poncili Creacion are stirring up. While I was there I'd launch into the negroni tank while chowing down on a ‘late-night hot box’ hot box pie from Free to Feed.”


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