Inflatable luminarium kicks off Melbourne’s inaugural SummerSalt festival

Originally published through the Age

Red: Exxopolis visitors Visitors are encouraged to stop and take in the atmosphere. Photo: Jesse Marlow

The festival kicked off at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) on Friday with Exxopolis, a giant inflatable “labyrinth of light”.

The installation is made of PVC less than a millimetre thick, but entering it is like immersing yourself in another world.

Light filters in through the translucent plastic in wide expanses of primary colour, interrupted only by geometric patterns in red and blue.

Visitors are encouraged to lie down in one of the piece’s many nooks and crannies to take in the atmosphere – just no running, and that means you, kids.

Exhibition manager Shanti Freed says Exxopolis appeals to all ages. “I love that we can bring something that’s beautiful and relaxing, and inclusive to all types of people,” she says.

“We hope they enjoy stepping into something other than their daily city environment, and that they’ll take the time to sit down and enjoy the colours and the lights.”

Exxopolis is one of many pieces at SummerSalt that audiences can get involved in, something that festival director Kirsten Syddle says is a drawcard for the event.

“We were really looking for work that was interactive and participatory in nature,” she says.

“There’s a lot in the festival that would ordinarily be inside in a theatre and we’ve deliberately moved that around. So work that you wouldn’t expect to see outside, we’re pushing it outside.”

The festival will play host to more than 500 different events over its five weeks, spanning the arts, music, dance, theatre, and circus.

Ms Syddle says there’s something at SummerSalt for everyone. “We really wanted to make the streets feel alive,” she says. “There’s a lot to surprise and delight.”

SummerSalt runs until February 21, with Exxopolis in place until February 1.

Bronze rhinos, moving whales, and a giant bee jammed into the Melbourne Recital Centre are just a few of the sights Melburnians can expect to encounter over the next five weeks as part of the city’s inaugural SummerSalt music and arts festival.



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