Tree of Codes

Tree Of Codes – a cross-disciplinary performance which has sold out at festivals all around the world – is one of the drawcard events leading the lineup of the 2018 Sydney Festival program.

Perhaps most easily classified as an extraordinary dance event, Tree of Codes is a genre traversing project that was born from the contemporary novelist Jonathan Safran Foer’s book-come-sculpture of the same name. The finished work is a collaboration between the studio of multi award-winning British director and choreographer Wayne McGregor, the renowned Danish visual artist Olafur Eliasson, the innovative musician and producer Jamie XX and the Paris Opera Ballet. It is, from all accounts, a staggering piece of art that conflates the extraordinary practices of contemporary ballet, visual art and electronic music forged by creative giants working at the vanguard of their respective fields.

Taking place at various venues across the city from January 6-28, Sydney Festival’s 2018 program places a strong emphasis on works of contemporary dance, theatre, cabaret, circus, drag, burlesque and experiential genre-defying performances from some of the most innovative and often esoteric performers working across the globe, including the previously announced Between Music, an avant-garde five-piece ensemble from Denmark, who will perform their suite of music, AquaSonic: a body of work created on their bespoke instruments whilst submerged underwater in glass aquariums.

Festival Director Wesley Enoch’s sophomore curatorial offering pivots around three central themes: an attempt to locate the intersection between science and art, focusing in particular on the relationship between the physical body at play with the mind and the digital realm; an interrogation of how patterns of human consumption are shaping both local communities and the planet at large; and how the feminist movement evolves with each successive wave to arrive at current interpretations of the movement from across the world. Expect to see shows like Town Hall Affair addressing the latter in particular head on with an Australian premiere theatrical re-staging of the 1971 film Town Bloody Hall, which documented a debate between the author Norman Mailer and leading feminists Jill Johnston and Germaine Greer, who will also deliver an address on the state of feminism in the 21st century in An Evening With Germaine Greer following Town Hall Affair’s opening night. Then there’s Fleabag, a one-woman play from the lauded British writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which spawned the popular BBC series of the same name; Wild Bore, the product of a collaboration between the writer and comedia Zoë Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott billed as “a stinging rebuke to their detractors”; and music from Argentinian hip-hip trio Fémina [pictured top].

The arts of burlesque, circus and drag receive strong support from this year’s lineup, with performances from Circus Oz, whose latest show Model Citizens is the work of an all-new ensemble working in collaboration with a new artistic director; Riot, an all-Irish variety show helmed by the drag queen Panti Bliss; a high-flying underwear-donning spectacular Briefs: Close Encounters, that will commingle contortion, feats of aerial acrobatics and comedy; and puppetry courtesy of Queensland Theatre and Dead Puppet Society, whose performance of The Wider Earth will bring to life Charles Darwin’s five-year cross-continent survey of new species using puppets and live acting.

In keeping with the spirit of last year’s adult ball pit, courtesy of design disrupters Snarkitecture, this year’s Instagram-friendly installations include an expansive landscape wrought from plastic toys littered with towering dinosaurs created by the Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji, as well as a large-scale installation at Barangaroo featuring a giant ‘nawi’, or canoe, and thousands of fish made of ice that will apparently be returned to the harbour.

You can view the program in full and find out more information about the incredible array of events on offer at Sydney Festival here.

Tile image: Alex and Iggy
Cover image: Sebastian Arpesella