Happy Mag’s guide to Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art 2019

From October 17th to 27th, the inimitable Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art will return to Carriageworks for eleven days of wild and wonderful performances, talks, and immersive experiences.

Comprised of artists, musicians, engineers, and rule-breakers from across Australia and the Asia Pacific, this year’s Liveworks represents one of the most diverse and utterly imaginative art programs in the country.

liveworks festival of experimental art 2019 Choy Ka Fai, Unbearable Darkness
Choy Ka Fai, Unbearable Darkness

Choreography from beyond the grave, purpose-built instruments, and linguistic re-coding: here’s what’s going down at Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art this month.

This year’s program has a renewed focus on free events, lending the festival to the public like never before. This will include late night music happenings, conversations, workshops, and more.

Moreover, Liveworks 2019 will place female and non-binary talent at the forefront of its programming. Speaking on this month’s events, Performance Space CEO Jeff Khan shared:

“This year’s celebration of experimental art converges around two central themes: our program of Feminist Sound features women and non-binary artists who champion the intersection of sound art, experimental music and performance. Elsewhere, an array of Culture Disruptors challenge the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, questioning the foundation and future of our cultural identities.”

Every year Liveworks is nothing short of an artistic delight, a challenge to the senses, and a schedule like nothing else in Australia. We’ve got the lowdown on what’s happening this time around – check out a few highlights below.

Choy Ka Fai, Unbearable Darkness: Oct 17-19

Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art 2019 will host the Australian premiere of Choy Ka Fai’ Unbearable Darkness, a insanely unique dance performance rooted in technology and the paranormal. The routine was created to conjure the spirit of late Butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata from beyond the grave, attempting to investigate his influence upon the world at large.

The performance features Choy Ka Fai dressed in a motion capture suit, dancing to a backing visual involving digital avatars of Hijikata, cybernetic landscapes, and scintillating colour. Unbearable Darkness shows from October 17th to 19th.

Lauren Brincat, Other Tempo: Oct 17-27

The first major commission of an Australian female artist to be showcased in Carriageworks’ public space (previously home to installations from Nick Cave, Ryoji Ikeda, and others), Other Tempo is a free large-scale installation showing for the full duration of Liveworks 2019.

Lauren Brincat’s performance installation invites a group of female drummers into the space for a dynamic live show on modified drum kits. Talent includes experimental musician Alyx Dennison and Lindy Morrison, drummer of the Go-Betweens, plus others.

lauren brincat other tempo liveworks festival of experimental art

Samara Hersch, Body of Knowledge: Oct 17-20

A project centralised upon a series of teenagers from around Australia and the world calling into the theatre, Body of Knowledge is a challenging display of the change and challenge that comes alongside growing up.

By speaking to young people in real time, the audience will be transported back to moments when their bodies, their ideals, their sexualities, and practically everything else in their lives hung in the balance.

Chicks On Speed, I’ll Be Your Body Instrument: Oct 19

An intermediary between music, performance, costume design, and technology, I’ll Be Your Body Instrument is a newly commissioned performance by extravagant experimentalists Chicks On Speed that’s unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed.

Featuring the group’s own ‘objektinstruments’, wearable instruments and light devices made to create sound in pioneering new forms, the performance will set out to “cast a feminist lens on our techno-fixated culture.”

Joel Bray, Daddy: Oct 17-19

A dance performance enhanced by conversation and audience participation, Daddy is the latest from Australia’s own Joel Bray. Tackling the artefacts of colonisation, the Dionysian nature of queer adulthood, and the excess of modern society, Bray’s style is, as always, provocative and unfeigned.

Daddy is perhaps one of the more in-your-face listings of Liveworks 2019, complete with strobe lights, haze, powdered sugar, nudity, coarse language, and plenty more of the good stuff. Head along, but I’d probably leave the kids at home for this one.

Sonic Nightcap: Oct 17-27

Part of the Bombay Sapphire Canvas Bar, Sonic Nightcap is the late night performance series coming to Liveworks for the first time in 2019. The lineup focusses on female and non-binary musicians pushing the envelope of what sound art, electronic music, and live performance can be.

Every night during Liveworks, stick around for a free multi-sensory performance from artists the likes of Lonelyspeck, DIN, Alyx Dennison and more.

But wait, there’s more…

These touch points are barely scratching the surface of Livework’s 2019 program. Many of the enlisted artists will also be participating in workshops and talks throughout the festival’s run, so if you particularly enjoy one performance, make sure to check out the program to dive deeper on the artist behind it.

If what you’re itching for is an experience that isn’t afraid to tread outside the norm – abstract music, inventive art, and fabulously strange programs – then Liveworks Festival is absolutely the ticket. Check out the full program and grab your tickets here.


Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art takes place between October 17th and 27th at Carriageworks in Sydney.