Now or Never’s extraordinary lineup led by Eartheater, COUCOU CHLOE and Erika De Casier
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20.06.2024

Now or Never’s extraordinary lineup led by Eartheater, COUCOU CHLOE and Erika De Casier

Now or Never
Constellations, coming to Now or Never from Studio Joanie Lemercier. Credit: Pete Carr.
Words by Oliver Winn and Staff Writer

Now or Never will transform Melbourne's most iconic venues with mind-bending performances, stellar audio-visual projections, hovering celestial constellations and thought-provoking presentations this August.

If you were one of the huge amount of people who enjoyed the successful 2023 debut of Now or Never – or you’re experiencing a well-deserved dose of FOMO right now – then block out your calendars for the latter half of August.

The City of Melbourne’s adventurous Now or Never festival will run from August 22 – 31, showcasing more than 250 local and international creatives, from boundary-pushing experimental pop-stars like Eartheater to the transformational large-scale installations of Joanie Lemercier.

Now or Never 2024

  • Boundary-pushing digital arts festival Now or Never will take over Melbourne’s CBD
  • Incredible events will be held at Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum and State Library Victoria, among others
  • It will run from Thursday 22 to Saturday 31 August
  • Tickets are on sale now. To explore the full program, head here

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

This year, Now or Never’s theme invites us all to look through the image, prompting mesmerised Melbournians to question the fabric of reality and ask thought-provoking questions.

The festival’s inaugural year truly amazed us. So believe us when we say, building upon last year’s success, this awe-inspiring festival will transform Melbourne for 10 ephemeral days. There’s never been a better time than the present to grab some tickets – it’s Now or Never.

Transformational live music at the Royal Exhibition Building

  • Multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist, Eartheater
  • Techno pioneers Sandwell District
  • Singer, songwriter and record producer Erika De Casier
  • The Australian debut of COUCOU CHLOE
  • Australian-born musician Ben Frost
  • Electronic artist and Wiradjuri woman Naretha Williams
  • Prominent British electronic musician Clark
  • Globally celebrated Italian techno DJ Donato Dozzy

Like last year, the Royal Exhibition Building will occupy the global frontier of music and art for four magical nights.

If you were lucky enough to witness Max Cooper last year, then you’ll know to expect something extraordinary across monumental floor-to-ceiling screens, stretching several storeys high in the UNESCO World Heritage building.

The London-based art practice United Visual Artists (UVA) will blanket the Royal Exhibition Building’s interior with audio-visual displays. They’ll also produce a galactical sonic interpretation titled Silent Symphony at Melbourne Town Hall, with sound design led by the adventurous musician and composer, Ben Frost. UVA’s other instalment, Present Shock II, is set to confront a world full of ‘post-truths’ as it collapses real-time information outside of Melbourne Town Hall.

The building’s Romanesque walls will simultaneously embrace the techno soundscapes of the multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist Eartheater, and will also feature performances from seminal techno group Sandwell District, and acclaimed Australian-born acts such as Frost and Naretha Williams.

Slow Walker

  • The Australian premiere of Peder Bjurman’s Slow Walker
  • A fascinating augmented reality experience
  • Above the Melbourne Museum Plaza

Reality will blend with the virtual in the augmented reality experience Slow Walker, which will depict a microscopic organism – the humble yet darn-near indestrucible tardigrade – as a gargantuan being above the Melbourne Museum Plaza.

Created by artist Peder Bjurman, the tardigrade, also known as the water bear, will be visible on your mobile device, as a colossal being hovering and interacting with its surrounds.

Constellations

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Joanie Lemercier (@joanielemercier)

  • French artist Joanie Lemercier from Studio Lemercier
  • A large-scale celestial formation, hovering above its own reflection
  • On the Yarra River’s surface along Southbank after dark

Be sure to visit Southbank after dark to witness French artist Joanie Lemercier’s mystical light show Constellations. This event will leave the Yarra River’s surface awash with celestial formations and dazzling geometric displays.

Ground-breaking music and audio-visual performances at Now or Never

  • A celebration of iconic First Nations musician, Kutcha Edwards
  • His work will be reimagined with the Australian Art Orchestra

Witness the epic combination of First Nations music and experimental jazz with Wuigada – Gagada (To Sing – Loud).

Fronted by – and a celebration of – First Nations songman and proud Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta and Nari Nari man Kutcha Edwards, this collaboration with the Australian Art Orchestra explores music’s most experimental realms, in a collaborative reimagination of one of Australia’s finest-ever songwriters.

DESASTRES

  • From the mind of leading Australian artist Marco Fusinato
  • DESASTRES premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2022 to critical-acclaim
  • At NantStudios in Docklands cinema studios

For those wanting to experience something highly-challenging and revelatory, then artist Marco Fusinato’s DESASTRES is a must-see event, after representing Australia at the Venice Biennale.

As a musician, Fusinato explores the idea of noise as music, using the electric guitar and mass amplification to improvise intricate, wide-ranging and physically affecting frequencies.

The enveloping soundscapes of a noise-guitar performance will be visualised at NantStudios in Docklands cinema studios, home to the largest LED volume screen for virtual production in the world.

HTRK and Actress

  • Iconic Melbourne experimentalists HTRK
  • UK electronic musician Actress
  • Melbourne Recital Centre

It’s hard to place HTRK’s – or Hate Rock – genre, even all these year’s after the legendary band’s formation. It’s a goth take on friendship with the polish of an act that have been going since ’03, delivering a range of meditative and imaginatively involving listening experience.

Commissioned by Now or Never in a world-exclusive, the iconic Melbourne duo and British electronic musician Actress will come together to perform at Melbourne Recital Centre for an incredible one-night-only collaboration.

MOUNTAIN

  • UK electronic musician Clark
  • Award-winning choreographer Melanie Lane
  • Costumes by designer Akira Isogawa

In a Victorian premiere, UK electronic musician Clark and award-winning choreographer Melanie Lane will present MOUNTAIN, an evocative contemporary dance performance with breathtaking costumes by designer Akira Isogawa.

Plagiary

  • Award-winning dance technologist and choreographer Alisdair Macindoe
  • AI video by acclaimed media artist Sam Mcgilp

World premiere dance performance Plagiary created by multi-award-winning dance technologist and choreographer Alisdair Macindoe, with AI video by acclaimed media artist Sam Mcgilp. Plagiary is an entirely new show created every night before audiences’ eyes – featuring ten exceptional contemporary dancers improvising each performance live, as it’s dictated to them by a computer presence.

kajoo yannaga (come on let’s walk together)

  • An interactive virtual gamified walk on Country
  • By Wiradjuri-Scottish artist, April Phillips

World premiere of kajoo yannaga (come on let’s walk together) – an interactive virtual gamified walk on Country guided by First Nations knowledges by Wiradjuri-Scottish artist, April Phillips.

Phillips is one of the Australian artists on the frontier of new and exciting mediums – she’s a master of using virtual means to connect us to physical landscapes – hence the gamification of this interactive work.

Queer Powerpoint

  • From creators Xanthe Dobbie and Harriet Gillies
  • Queering the corporate presentation staple

Creators Xanthe Dobbie and Harriet Gillies will present Queer Powerpoint, an experimental performance series bringing together queer artists to explore and share an idea, current obsession, or ongoing fascination using the most ubiquitous of programming tools – PowerPoint.

Sydney’s successful Queer PowerPoint revels in a digital tool from a simpler time, queering the corporate presentation staple to ensure you have a good time. As co-creator Harriet Gillies explained to us last year, Queer PowerPoint was originally meant to be a one-off event post-lockdown, but people were very responsive to it. “We knew it was a hit when people stood on their chairs applauding to a slide transition where the screen folds itself up like a paper plane.”

Bold thinkers and captivating discussions at Now or Never

SUPERMODEL

  • Mckenzie Wark
  • Pseudo
  • Alexander Powers
  • Marcus Whale
  • Tomomi Adachi
  • Lolina
  • DeForrest Brown, Jr.
  • Plus many more

Hosted by the Gadigal/Sydney arts collective SOFT CENTRE, this three-day program provides a plethora of engaging experiences, workshops and screenings at the State Library of Victoria. Expect ecstatic performances and deep-dive keynotes unfolding in yet another of Melbourne’s most stunning architectural gems.

Roxane Gay

 

  • Renowned writer and professor, Roxane Gay
  • A one-night-only discussion of Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business

Bestselling author, professor and renowned opinion writer for The New York Times, Roxane Gay will return to Melbourne for one night only to discuss her latest celebrated book Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business.

Gay is well-known around the world for her sharp insights on contemporary culture, race, gender, and identity, and has established herself as a powerful voice in literature and activism.

Merlin Sheldrake

  • World-renowned mycologist and author of Entangled Life
  • Hosted by award-winning ABC journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell
  • Live on screen at Melbourne Museum

World-renowned mycologist and author of Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake, joins Now or Never audiences live on screen at Melbourne Museum for an in-depth discussion hosted by multi-award- winning ABC journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell.

“Vital elements in Melbourne’s cultural identity”

“Melbourne, it’s Now or Never!” Lord Mayor Sally Capp exclaimed. “The return of this extraordinary festival will enrich our events calendar, boosting visitation for our traders and stoking our economy during the traditionally quieter winter period

“From thought-provoking performances to late-night cultural experiences, the festival supports artistic talent and encourages knowledge, curiosity and creativity.”

“Now or Never is set to draw over 200,000 visitors to the city – welcoming audiences with a variety of events across some of Melbourne’s most iconic venues, including the renowned Royal Exhibition Building.”

“Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building are vital elements in Melbourne’s cultural identity,” Museums Victoria CEO and director Lynley Crosswell concluded. “And as centres of wonder and discovery, the perfect venues to host the brilliant homegrown and international program of bold art, creative ideas and future thinking that is Now or Never 2024.”

Now or Never will take over Melbourne from Thursday 22 to Saturday 31 August. Tickets are on sale now. To purchase and to explore the full program, visit the Now or Never website here.

Beat is an official media partner of Now or Never