03 March 2013


It’s called Enlighten. It’s certainly not Enlightment but it’s entertaining. We enjoyed our leisurely stroll around the Parliamentary Triangle. There were decent crowds, at least in a Canberra sense, although they are spread over a large area. There were more photographers than you could imagine, the serious ones hogging the best spots with tripods. There was lots of varying colour and some gentle and harmless humour. Not much seriousness here. The closest that we saw was an art work by George Poonkhin Khut at the National Portrait Gallery where visitors were invited to measure their body using a finger electrode and watch it on a PC screen and I think listen in headphones. It seemed oddly like auras but perhaps more authentic, or at least scientific. Also serious was standing by the fire at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, although strangely the fire was attended by a white guy with no ATSI blood but with sympathy for the cause. Otherwise, there was music. We caught just a few Real Book tunes by the trio of Clare Dawson, Caleb Wearne and Simeon Staker. That was background but very capable; I enjoyed the gentle but lyrical soloing. They were playing to a chatty crowd in the foyer of the National Library for their temporary speakeasy called the Red Letter Lounge (the Bookplate seemed to have transformed into a child care centre). We also caught some cajun/bluegrass with Dr Stovepipe who were strangely perched on a stage above the La’ Toush café. All very odd but entertaining and nicely played: two- and three-part harmonies, good rockabilly slap-bass and a jokey presence. They had plenty of kids and a few mums up dancing, although they were fickle and ran off to follow the Group D Creative Collective’s deep sea anglerfish bicycles when they passed by. They were cute (and friendly: no fish I know has ever offered to stop for a photo) but I preferred the Stalker Theatre Company’s Phospori cyborgs: three women on stilts with images projected onto body suits roaming with a distant presence. And I enjoyed the two Apollo 11 astronauts who just moon walked around the place, ignored by more-worldly adults but enjoyed by the kids. And did I mention the cameras and tripods? We managed three hours of colour and projections and idling. Given ee are not ones for public entertainment, I reckon it was pretty decent.

Enlighten is a festival of projections on buildings and public entertainment held around the Parliamentary Triangle. The bands were the Clare Dawson Trio, featuring Clare Dawson (piano), Caleb Wearne (bass) and Simeon Staker (drums) and Dr. Stovepipe with Jim Sharrock (guitar, banjo, vocals), Gillian Cosgrove (fiddle, vocals) and Ed Radclyffe (bass, vocals). The performers were the Group D Creative Collective and the Stalker Theatre Company and their Phospori. George Poonkhin Khut presented electrode aura portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

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