Support for White Night Melbourne 2016 was announced fairly late by the Victorian Government, which may have had an impact on the number of artists taking part this year at the all night arts festival. Compared to last year it didn't seem there was as much to see, and not having any projections on the Flinders Street buildings was a disappointment. However, there were some real gems that I discovered throughout the early morning hours as I wandered around the city.
The focus on Indigenous storytelling was the real highlight of White Night this year, and these artists had the best light projections of anyone. Federation Squared by Reko Rennie with the Electric Canvas lit up Federation Square with some bright colors and graphic designs on the facade of the building.
At the NGV was the very powerful Still Here by Josh Muir with Ample Projects. The illustrations, accompanied by music from Emma Donovan and James Henry, tell the story of Aboriginal people in Victoria before and after white settlement. It was a fast-paced visual narrative and the crowd applauded once it finished.
The best work though due to its sheer scale was Pitcha Makin' Fellas and OCUBO at the Royal Exhibition Building. Their piece told the story of the six Aboriginal seasons. It was stunning to watch and great to hear stories told using traditional language as well as English.
The State Library once again had light projections both outside and inside the building. Landscaping Architecture by Amanda Morgan and James HH Morgan had the front of the library bathed in a kaleidoscope of color. Inside the dome of the La Trobe Reading Room was Ideation by Nick Azidis, Lisa Greenaway, Adem Jaffers and Bentley Dean. Using soundscapes and light projections it celebrated the world's achievements in knowledge.
There were many music stages spread across the city that featured bands from different types of genres. With so many things to see throughout the night it's impossible to view everything. Of all the bands playing I didn't want to miss The Harpoons so I made sure to catch their 1:30 am set at the Live on Lonsdale stage. We were treated to a lot of new songs as well as old favorites "Falling For You," "Can We Work This Out," "Unforgettable" and "Ready For Your Love." The crowd was dancing and it was great to hear other people singing along to the lyrics.
Animals were a feature of some of the pieces at White Night this year. On the Melbourne Town Hall was Golden Monkey by Lisa Roet, which saw a giant gold inflatable monkey clinging to the building. At the Melbourne City Baths was Incubator by Craig Walsh with its 3D animations and projections of creatures swimming around in the pool.
My favorite interactive piece was Neon Laneway by Alana Hoggart and Michael Duncan in Rutledge Lane. This work brought together some of Melbourne's finest street artists with contemporary dancers under the neon glow from black lights. The neon street art, ominous music and dancers really made this the most creative thing I witnessed all evening.
Finally, the hills of the Queen Victoria Gardens were the perfect place to showcase The Dresses by Tae Gon Kim. These beautiful dresses were made of fibre-optic strands that changed color, symbolizing the dresses' history and transformation over time. These were amazing to see in person and another definite highlight of White Night.