Project X manager Lucy Bleach, with DarkLab executive director Jude Gun and creative producer Theia Connell, and Destination Southern Tasmania’s Alex Heroys, visited Geeveston last Thursday night to talk to local business and tourism operators about the next stage of the $2 million Federal and State Government funded, arts based, bushfire recovery project for the Huon Valley.
After a sell-out limited season of UK artist Chris Watson’s Hrafin: Conversations with Odin in the Hastings Caves State Reserve during Dark Mofo, which reportedly earned the equivalent of $1.5 million of media publicity for the project and region, DarkLab has announced that the work has now received the requisite Parks and Wildlife Services approvals to operate for a further three months, with the possibility to extend to December, should demand continue.
“We’ve now got an ecological monitoring process being undertaken, so we are checking for any species that we may be impacting,” said Project X’s Lucy Bleach.
She said that the installation will re-open on August 1 and, as the daylight hours extend into spring, the timing of the dusk event will also become later, hopefully encouraging more visitors to spend the night in the Huon Valley as the season goes on.
Ms Bleach said that an important part of Hrafin was the input from local guides, who, she said, add a crucial layer to the artist’s script, which makes the experience unique to the region.
“That was so special to be able to provide anecdotes and significant details from locals, and we would like to thank all the guides,” said Ms Bleach.
The buses will no longer run from Hobart to Hastings Caves, with visitors making their own way to the Hastings Caves Visitor Centre, where they will join the bus and travel into the State Reserve.
There will be a reduced ticket price for locals, and the event will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with demand assessed and operating days adjusted accordingly.
The second artwork for Project X will also launch in August, with English artist Jimmy Cauty’s The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (The ADP) to travel to six towns around the Huon Valley over the next 12 months, starting in Geeveston.
The ADP, originally shown at the Hoxton Arches (UK) in October 2013 and recently featuring in Hobart as part of Dark Mofo, is an artwork set inside a 40-foot shipping container, allowing viewers to peer through holes at a mythical English dystopian landscape, modelled in a miniature scale of 1:87, a town frozen in the aftermath of a riot, all lit by the flashing strobes of emergency vehicles.
“The work is all about riots and the potential for riots in the world, it’s a kind of dystopian imagining of what would happen if the city went rogue,” said DarkLab’s Theia Connell.
Jimmy Cauty is an English musician (The KLF and The Orb) and artist, who is well known for controversially and publicly burning a million pounds, he is well-known as being anti-establishment and enigmatic.
When the work arrived in Hobart, it first visited Risdon Prison, where the inmates were able to interact with the piece, before it was moved to outside Hobart Town Hall for the duration of Dark Mofo.
Jimmy says of the work, ”No one must ever dictate, pronounce or try to explain the full meaning of The ADP. It can only be seen and discussed, not known.”
As such, Project X will work with young people in the region, dubbed the Children of the Aftermath, who will become the guides and monitors of the The ADP.
Local writers and historian will also be commissioned for site-specific interpretive RIOT Pamphlets, incorporating anti-establishment history of each location into the work.
The work is available for viewing around the clock, and will spend two months in each location, starting in Geeveston, with subsequent locations to be announced.
The DarkLab team is also continuing to work on the major installation for Project X, which executive director Jude Gun said they hope to be able to announce very soon.
They continue to work with major international artists to develop the next stage, which will aim to replace the 80,000 visitors a year that have been lost to the region since the closure of the Tahune Airwalk as a result of the Riveaux Road bushfire.
Ms Gun said, “We’re really excited, we really want to get this happening as fast as we can.
“One of the things that Leigh (Carmichael, DarkLab creative director) and the festival team do really well is curate amazing experiences, and the other thing we do really well is marketing.
“We’re really good at creating a profile, so we want to make sure we create a really high calibre work that draws the audience, so that they want to explore parts of the state that perhaps they wouldn’t normally see, we really want to drive that.”
DST’s Alex Heroys said, “Obviously these projects are about economic recovery, and tourism is inexorably linked to that.
“These artworks are going to work with the local community as well as with the visitor, and we want to try and assist tourism operators especially, and other members of the visitor economy to leverage it as much as possible, to help them make the most of it.”