What to expect for Vivid Sydney 202223 Nov 2021
It’s been over two years since light's on, and in that time, we’ve been working on how to make the best things about Vivid Sydney even better for its 12th year. We spoke to festival director Gill Minervini about her new creative direction, what goes on behind the scenes and how Vivid Sydney will light up more of the city in 2022.
Q: Next year Vivid Sydney's creative direction will focus on “the soul of Sydney”. Can you tell me how this theme came about?
GM: The soul of our city is about the creativity of Vivid Sydney. It started with a question: what is it about a city that makes it special, unique, and gives you that almost palpable feeling of energy? When I thought about New York, Rome, or Barcelona and Sydney, I realised that buzz is created by creativity.
That speaks directly to what we're doing with Vivid Sydney. So I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to ask our artists to explore what is the soul of our city.
Q: You’ve now received all the expressions of interest from artists applying to be a part of the festival – did you enjoy seeing the response to the theme?
GM: I loved it! All of them have something to add to the narrative. When our audience sees some of the works, they’ll smile and think “yes, that’s Sydney” and with others they’ll be curious about how it fits into the story, and that’s what we want – for people to be inquisitive.
Q: What stage of planning are you at now?
GM: The artists who made it into the festival will be notified soon and we’ve been plotting the artworks on the light walk. We get a giant map of the light walk and lay it on the ground – it's a very “analogue” way of doing it but it’s the only way I can see how one work relates to the other, the audience experience and what we’ve got in Barangaroo compared to Circular Quay, for example.
Q: It must be a complicated process, because you’re not only thinking about how each work responds to its environment but also how it flows, from one work to another.
GM: Exactly – and it’s not a linear experience; some people might start at Circular Quay, some people might enter from Darling Harbour, so you can’t tell a linear narrative. I think about it as a giant exhibition, it’s about being able to walk into any room of the exhibition and know what you’re looking at and have some context. It’s one of the best parts of the job, but it’s hard – it's like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
Q: Can we expect Vivid Sydney to expand into new areas of the city in 2022?
GM: We’ll be opening up a new part of the CBD to Vivid Sydney, which will bring a whole range of new possibilities in terms of installations and projections, as well as people's access to the light walk. The new areas will lend themselves to incorporate light, music and ideas in a new way.
Q: There is a new Cross Art Form category for next year’s festival, can you tell us about it?
GM: We wanted to highlight that the festival can be about works that that incorporate two or more of our “pillars” – light, music and ideas – or bring in other art forms that we hadn't thought about. That category has had a really good response and it's something that will be progressing in future years.
Q: Can we expect any new technology at Vivid Sydney 2022?
GM: I’ve been keen to create a more aural experience of the Light Walk. In 2022, we’ll be presenting a way that people can hear the soundtracks of all the lighting installations from their own headphones with their phones. We know that music and sound make a visual experience so much more rounded and interesting, so that’s going to be a game changer.
We have both high-tech innovation and some more traditional use of lighting – I was keen to get that mix of things.
Q: Joe Muller is the new Vivid Music Curator – what will he bring to the table?
GM: Joe is a Sydney boy; he's been working for the Mary's Group, programming the music for the Lansdowne Hotel, Mary's Underground and other venues for many years as well as some major festivals such as the Taste of Tasmania. He's super passionate about Sydney musicians and Sydney music. I think he'll bring an exciting new direction to the music program.
Q: What do you hope to see for the Vivid Ideas program in 2022? Will they be speaking to the theme?
GM: We will have a diverse range of speakers and conversations within the Ideas program – many of which will tie back into our creative direction. The Ideas program will explore what we have in common with other cities and what makes us unique – the people, history, places, stories and creativity that makes Sydney.
Q: Justine Topfer has also joined the team as Producer for Vivid Light. Can you tell us about her?
GM: Justine is a producer and curator of public art works around the world. She curated and produced installations in San Francisco International Airport and work for the San Francisco Art Commission as well as having worked for Parramatta City Council, curating major public art projects. She understands the role of public art in the community. And she understands what we are working towards: works that push boundaries and are innovative but are still accessible to a broad audience.
Q: And you’re overseeing the curation of the light walk next year?
Yes, we're working closely with the rest of the light team to make sure we have works that are accessible, that we have works that are whimsical, works that are on a grand scale, works with a sense of humour, works that are poignant and beautiful and also pushing works that are artist driven.
Q: The world has changed a lot since the last time we staged Vivid Sydney in 2019. What do you think people need from a festival in 2022 that they didn’t before?
GM: They’ve always needed a sense of safety and security, which Vivid Sydney has always taken very seriously. But aside from that, they want to be entertained. They want to be challenged and delighted. Nothing beats going to a show or seeing art and feeling the reaction of the crowd.
I think 2022 is shaping up to be a landmark year in the history of Vivid Sydney. We're going to be offering a supper club — a late-night club on weekends so people can have a drink after an event and a range of other new initiatives
We’re opening the doors of Sydney again. In fact, we’re throwing them open and welcoming people with open arms to come and be part of what has become an amazing Sydney ritual. It's about connecting with our city again and baring our souls to one another and Sydney.
Follow our socials to keep up to date with the 2022 program announcement.