With its palatial ceilings, plush velvet chairs and gold detailing, the Arts Centre Melbourne is a local icon. You can go there to see some of the best operas, orchestras and ballets in the world. And now you can go there to experience intensity, rapture, transcendence and collective euphoria. Supersense, the Festival of the Ecstatic, aims to overload the audience with music, film, dance, performance art, sound and light, utilising the Arts Centres’s main stages as well as its secret spaces. Chief Executive Officer Claire Spencer describes it as “unlike anything we have ever presented before.”
Viewing the line-up, you’ll understand why. Curator Sophia Brous, in partnership with the Asian Performing Arts Program, has brought in eclectic artists from all over the globe, from China’s TAO Dance Theatre to punk legends Lydia Lunch. The mission is clear: to make sure you’re doing anything but sitting still.
There’s a focus on creative collaboration and one-off experiences—LA’s Ariel Pink will be teaming up with Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Tempel, Ash Ra) for a set that will bring their respective pop and krautrock tendencies together. Meanwhile, Melbourne-based electronic act HTRK are joining forces with local dance company Chunky Moves. “HTRK’s music is evocative, environmental, dark, metallic and dystopic, and I was so interested to see how that soundworld could be spatially and physically realised by choreographer Anouk Van Dijk and Chunky Move's dancers. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” Sophia tells The Creators Project.
Other highlights of the program include an immersive video installation called ‘Hypnosis Display’ by San Francisco-based filmmaker Paul Clipson and Oregon-based songwriter Grouper; a traditional Kuda Lumping trance ritual by Indoensian dancers; and a new major work by Velvet Underground founding member John Cale, commissioned especially for the festival. Let’s not forget ‘Discreet+Oblique: The Music of Brian Eno’, a concert that reinterprets Brian Eno’s 1975 album Discreet Music. “The album is a thing of beauty; it floats along in evaporative clouds of melody and tape delay,” Sophia tells us. “For this concert, the album is being performed live for the first time by an ensemble including the stunning trio The Necks with renowned UK musicians and Eno collaborators Leo Abrahams and David Coulter.”
Trailer for the 'Hypnosis Display' installation by Paul Clipson and Grouper