Unfolding a New Grand Narrative at Next Wave Festival 2014

The stories of today are set to be rewritten in Melbourne from 16 April to 11 May, 2014 as part of ‘Next Wave Festival 2014: New Grand Narrative’.  This month-long festival will colour the Melbourne landscape with cutting-edge arts and culture from Australia and the globe.  Marking its 30th anniversary in 2014, ‘Next Wave’ rallies against social convention, involving a dynamic curated selection of innovative, challenging new art.  This rebellious outlook inspires a ‘next wave’ of visions of the new world, and the political and cultural relationships within it.

As part of the mantra of producing new stories, the festival will incorporate an ambitious range of technically challenging and risky art, including performance, dance, visual art, sound art – conjuring art projects never seen before.  Connecting to the landscape itself, art projects will permeate Melbourne’s spaces; from its theatres and galleries to its laneways, beaches, rivers and private homes.  The ‘Next Wave’ festival enables a platform for new artists to express their conceptions and challenges for what art can be. “Our theme for Next Wave Festival 2014 is a rallying call,” said Emily Sexton, Next Wave Artistic Director.  “We seek a New Grand Narrative. Or new grand narratives.”

The festival is responding to a period of transition, where 20th Century conventions and institutions are being questioned and challenged in their relevance.    Emily Sexton, Artistic Director draws attention to the irrelevance of many institutions to modern life; “From newspapers to marriage, or a two-party political system, or our relationship to the planet and animals – or even the constitution itself, which still does not equally acknowledge our Aboriginal peoples”.  The festival makes a provocative stand against prevailing norms.

A key highlight of the festival is ‘Blak Wave’, which sparks conversations about what is artistically and politically ‘next’ for Australian Indigenous Peoples.  Featuring seven new art projects, a thought-provoking talk series and a new publication, this important initiative seeks to investigate the multifaceted nature of Aboriginal art today.  The 80-page publication co-curated and edited by Torres Strait Islander Tahjee Moar and Next Wave’s artistic team will feature a spread of interviews, profiles and articles that project the positive vision of Aboriginal Australia.

Looking towards the future of Indigenous Australian art, the Blak Wave art project has been developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists and curators, including Tahjee Moar, Tony Albert, Djon Mundine, Bo Svoronos and Erica McCalman.  Blak Wave involves a range of visual art installations to performance and dance to engage the viewer on multiple sensory levels.  Celebrating the importance of storytelling, dance and place to contemporary Indigenous culture, the art projects will engage viewers from interacting with a 3D virtual reality app of pastoral Melbourne, to participating in an installation featuring animated video projections and a large-scale interactive dance podium.

A movement that embraces the new, Next Festival 2014 has exciting momentum towards empowering diverse cultural and artistic experiences.   The festival’s constant desire to question and re-write convention, promotes the need for a collective consciousness amongst artists and the audience to re-evaluate today for a better tomorrow.

Next Wave Festival
16 April to 11 May 2014

Phuong Ngo, Article 14.1, performance
Photography by Alex Clayton
Courtesy the artist

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