Focus on First Nations
This year, the theme for White Night is “everything on the land is reflected in the sky”, which JOF describes as “the sky, the constellations, the stars, even some cheeky alien takeovers.”
“The theme really asks audiences and artists to openly respond to the notion of the night sky, constellations, and the universe while also reflecting on the environment and the country that we’re placing these two events on – Dja Dja Wurrung Country and Wathaurong Country,” he says.
It’s a concept both inspired by, and delivered in consultation with, the traditional owners of each city, with a focus on First Peoples creatives evident throughout White Night’s Bendigo and Geelong programming.
One of the most spectacular works coming to both White Nights is The Electric Canvas, a massive installation of projection art beamed onto major buildings in each city. In 2022, The Electric Canvas will focus on the work of local First Nations artists, including Troy Firebrace, Natasha Carter, Jenna Oldaker, Kait James and Billy-Jay O’Toole.
“They're incredible artists and make really different, awesome work that we will be showcasing on this huge canvas.”
A tale of two cities
While there is some overlap in the programming for the Bendigo and Geelong events, White Night organisers have tailored the festivals to the individual history, culture and character of the individual cities.
“The way in which we’ve approached the program… it’s a conversation with both cities. And that conversation is about thinking of them as a canvas on which to build these events,” says JOF.
In Bendigo, that means utilising the Gold Rush-era architecture, as well as hosting artworks and performances that nod to the city’s rich Chinese heritage and culture. That includes teaming up with the acclaimed Golden Dragon Museum for a takeover featuring SBS PopAsia’s Andy Trieu taking on DJ responsibilities while guests explore artist Derek Ho’s White Rabbit Candy Buffet.
In Geelong, the White Night program will be tempered by the city’s industrial past, as well as noting its contemporary transition as a hub for art and music.
“It’s a beautiful city by the sea as well, it would be remiss of us not to take full advantage of Western Beach Road and that beautiful view of the ocean as it looks back to Melbourne,” JOF says.
It’s on this major seaside street where Geelong White Night audiences will find The Guardian, a ten-metre-long, four-metre-high luminous lion puppet studded with crystals.
“Audiences can come up close and take a selfie and really interact with a huge creature of the night.”