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Ten Shows, Gigs, Events and Installations to Lose Yourself In at Brisbane Festival 2022

By George Hadgelias

It’s that time again, Brisbanites — time to spend as much of September as possible lapping up the city’s major arts festival. It’s the perfect part of the year for it, after all. The spring weather is delightful, everyone is eager to get out and about now that winter is gone, and Brisbane Festival reliably delivers oh-so-much to do.

On this year’s agenda now that the literal fireworks are over — because Riverfire kicked off this year’s fest, rather than ended it — is a hefty list of shows, gigs, events, installations and everything in-between. In other words, don’t say that you don’t have anything to do between now and Saturday, September 24. And if you’re still wondering what to see, hear and experience, here are our ten must-attend highlights.

September 10 – Roller Daze

It’s time to put your skates on, Brisbanites — and use them to roll around Milton. As part of this year’s Brisbane Festival, a huge skating party is taking over Milton Park, turning the inner-city spot into an outdoor roller rink complete with skate sessions, live tunes and a silent disco.

Free to attend, Roller Daze runs from 1–5pm on Saturday, September 10 — and all rollerskaters of all abilities are welcome. Selve, Little Quirks and Bullhorn will be taking care of the music, and a silent disco is also on the agenda. There’s workshops and demos, too, so you can learn from the experts and see how it’s done. And if you don’t have your own skates, you can hire them for $10 on the day.

September 11 – Museum Of The Moon

Prepare to stare at the moon in all of its glory — up close, without a telescope and without zooming into space. Measuring seven metres in diameter and featuring renderings of the celestial body’s surface based on NASA imagery, the Museum of the Moon is a detailed installation by UK-based artist Luke Jerram. The giant sculpture has been touring the world since 2016, displaying in New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, plenty of spots around Europe, and also around Australia.

Until Sunday, September 11, it’s adding West Village in West End to its orbit. The artwork recreates the moon at a scale of approximately 1:500,000, with each centimetre equating to five kilometres of the lunar surface. And, when it’s done, it’ll be replaced by a replica of earth and then one of Mars until Brisbane Festival is over.

September 17 – Fourteen Shake & Stir Theater Co

For the second year in a row, Brisbane Festival and huge stage premieres with local relevance go hand in hand. In 2021, it was Boy Swallows Universe that had the city talking — and in 2022, that honour now goes to Fourteen. Once again, if you’re a bookworm, you’ll be excited. This time, Shannon Molloy’s memoir heads to QPAC, bringing journalist’s years as a queer teenager at an all-boys Catholic school in regional Queensland to the theatre.

Until Saturday, September 17, the production is taking over the Cremorne Theatre, exploring growing up gay in the centre of the Sunshine State in the process. Even if you haven’t lived the same experience, you can likely imagine it. The year is 1999. Rugby is an obsession. And coming out would change Shannon’s high-school years forever.

September 8 – 18 – Girls From The North Country

West End and Broadway hit Girl From the North Country will sound familiar to Bob Dylan fans. It shares its title with one of the legendary folk singer’s 1963 songs — a tune that features in this musical, naturally. Indeed, the entire show uses Dylan’s tracks, including everything from ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘Hurricane’ to ‘Slow Train’ and ‘I Want You’, all weaved throughout a story of American life during the Great Depression.

Coming to QPAC as part of this year’s Brisbane Festival from Thursday, September 8–Sunday, September 18, the musical is set in a guesthouse in the US state of Minnesota in 1934. The narrative revolves around owner Nick, who is deeply in debt; his wife Elizabeth, whose mind is fraying; and their pregnant daughter Marianne — as well as a bible-slinging preacher and a boxer endeavouring to make a comeback.

September 18 – Mosaic Festival

What’s more spectacular than spending time in Brisbane’s great outdoors? Heading outside for an event dedicated to the city’s multicultural community. Taking place at Roma Street Parklands from 10am–5pm on Sunday, September 18, that’s the MOSAIC Festival through and through — and in 2022, it’s part of Brisbane Festival, too.

The returning event will unleash a storm of world music, dance, markets and food — aka the type of storm that brightens things up, rather than darkens clouds. Multiple stages will showcase performances, songs and cultural storytelling, including a Welcome to Country to kick off proceedings, a calypso and reggae set by Bustamento, and an international drumming workshop and performance.

September 23 – Raise The Roof

One night. One festival. Six rooftop bars. Six wild parties. Yes, synchronised rooftop shindigs are part of this year’s Brisbane Festival, popping up on six sky-high Brisbane spots on one single evening: Friday, September 23.

The sextet of soirees will feature six artists and/or artist collectives such as Michael Zavros, Briefs Factory International and The Grates’ Patience Hodgson, all curating a venue each around a specific colour palette. If you’re heading along, you’ll be asked to embrace the theme — which includes a Studio 54-inspired tropical disco at Fiume Rooftop Bar, a French salon-inspired night at Ooh La La Rooftop and an 80s fantasia at Iris Rooftop (where ‘Purple Rain’ won’t just be on the soundtrack).

Until September 24 – Ephemeral

They surround us in the bath, get blown through soap wands and, when they’re of the gum variety, burst with a satisfying pop. For the bulk of September, they’ll also be towering high over South Bank. Yes, we’re talking about bubbles, which are a big feature at this year’s Brisbane Festival,

Ephemeral sees huge bubbles made using dichroic film take over the Festival Garden at South Bank until Saturday, September 24. So, marvelling at these giant globes is as easy as heading to the riverside inner-city precinct, with the larger-than-life orbs soaring into the sky as part of a sculpture presented by the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. And yes, as the installation’s name nods to, thinking about everything that’s fleeting — including bubbles, festival events and life in general — is the aim of the artwork.

Until September 24 – Jen Lewin The Pool

Head to the Brisbane Festival Garden at South Bank from Tuesday, September 6–Saturday, September 24 to see a glorious interactive display, which hails from New York artist Jen Lewin. The Pool is bringing its 100-plus light pads to Brisbane and, yes, you’re allowed to hop on them. Also, you won’t need your wallet.

The piece is inspired by Australia’s tidal pools, and asks its audience to step, jump and dance across its floating circles. As you skip, bounce and shuffle, those discs beam and swirl with light — activated by your footsteps, changing with your every move and always creating something new to marvel at.

Until September 24 – Brisbane’s Art Boat

Brisbane’s Art Boat, which returns for a second year in 2022 as part of Brisbane Festival, just might be the brightest thing to do on the Brisbane River. Why? Because it’ll have you moseying along the waterway while checking out dazzling installations. Unsurprisingly, this cruising art party proved a hit in 2021, which is why it is back again this year. Once more, it’ll set sail from Northshore Brisbane, doing a 105-minute loop — although some sessions will hit the water from South Bank instead, and run for 90 minutes, while 135-minute Northshore-to-South Bank routes are also available on some dates.

Whichever one you pick, Australian visual artist Lindy Lee will be doing the honours in supplying the art part of Brisbane’s Art Boat, decking out the floating venue as part of a festival-first collaboration. Get ready to be surrounded by celestial floating art thanks to installation The Spheres, which takes inspiration from Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras.

Until October 3 – Kaleidoscope

Thanks to Keith Courtney, Brisbanites have already been able to walk through a huge house of mirrors in the past few years. And, with his help, moseying through an eerie and endless labyrinth of doors became a reality, too. The Melbourne installation artist isn’t done setting up massive mazes just yet, however — and his latest is designed to resemble a huge, human-sized kaleidoscope.

Called Kaleidoscope, fittingly, this installation isn’t small. It’s a 700-square-metre expanse of glass, steel, mirrors and moving prisms that features a labyrinth of corridors decked out in a revolving showcase of lights and colours. It’s now shimmering and luring Brisbanites on Brisbane Powerhouse’s Performance Lawn until Monday, October 3 and, like both House of Mirrors and 1000 Doors, it has been crafted to be immersive as possible. Expect to have your senses disoriented while you’re strolling through, including both motion and gravity — and to see plenty of shifting illusions among the ever-changing array of light and colour as well.

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