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Supple Fox, the creative team behind some of Dark Mofo’s most talked-about performances, has teamed up with The Huxleys, Gabi Barton, and artist Shaun Gladwell to launch The Ends – a threeweek long ‘living art installation’ that brings art, music, performance and a heavy dose of the unexpected to the banks of the Yarra River this October.
Tom Supple and Hannah Fox, the founders of maverick creative and curatorial company Supple Fox, are masters of next-level events. So when the folks from CBD riverside venue Arbory decided they wanted to look beyond the obvious and create something extraordinary, they got on the phone to team Supple Fox.
Running from 5-23 October, The Ends is a combined vision of some of Australia’s most exciting creative talent. Inhabiting the narrow seam of space between Flinders Street Station and the banks of the Yarra River (and at certain times, the river itself), The Ends is the first outing of its kind for host venue, Arbory.
“The thinking behind The Ends was to create something that was sympathetic to the site and its surrounds” says Supple Fox co-curator, Hannah Fox. “The end result is a highly visible installation that connects Arbory with the Yarra River, Flinders Street Station and the Princes Bridge.”
Fox says the partnership with Arbory was a first for the agency. “We’ve never undertaken a project of this scale in Melbourne,” Fox explains. “It’s quite a bold move, actually; it’s not often that a traditional hospitality player would want to invest so directly in the arts in this way,” she explains. “I think that says a lot about who they are.”
Fox says the program’s biggest coup was securing the world premiere of the highly anticipated new work by contemporary Australian artist, Shaun Gladwell.
A striking mixed-media photographic work nestled amongst the landscape, Gladwell’s Maddest Maximus Invert sees a black-clad, helmeted figure known as ‘Maddest Maximus’ strung high above the ocean defiantly resisting the waves of the Tasman Sea. The anonymous figure invokes references to the Australian anti-hero Ned Kelly, Mad Max and more generic notions of the boundary rider, motorcycle rebel and surfer.
Elsewhere in the program will be specially-commissioned sculpture and performance design by The Huxleys (Dark Mofo, Melbourne Fringe and M Pavilion). Inspired by abstracted elements of vintage biology illustrations, the duo’s sculptures will be installed across the site: suspended from palm trees, growing out of rooftops and on occasion, floating past on a row-boat.
Melbourne-based performance artist, choreographer and ‘slapstick dance-nik’ Gabi Barton (Dark Faux Mo, Town Bikes, Melbourne Fringe and Festival of Live Art) has been brought on to choreograph The Ends. Adding to the theatrical experience, various installations will behave unpredictably: at times static and other times brought to life by the movement of dancers hidden within.
Meanwhile, Supple Fox – with a client list that includes Dark Mofo, Melbourne Festival, MONA FOMA, Tate Modern and Latitude Festival – has earned a reputation for taking the performing arts out of traditional venues and shifting the accepted context (think the Ferris Wheel of Death at Dark Mofo). Having staged and presented work in nightclubs, cupboards and swimming pools, on top of cars, and on boats, their work is always equal parts performance and provocation.
So what level of provocation can we expect from The Ends? “We very consciously looked to create something that felt human, breathing, absurd and curious” says Fox, “and to directly reject the clean lines and endless triangles of the Melbourne design world.”
The Ends runs 5 – 23 October 2016 at Arbory Bar and Eatery, Flinders Walk, Melbourne. Full details arbory.com.au»
Photos – Simon Shiff