Vivid 2021 program launches with reveal of Opera House projection

The sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit with the art of eight female Indigenous artists from the Pilbara, bringing the painted beauty of Australia’s desert country to the harbour for this year’s Vivid Festival.

The centrepiece of Vivid 2021 will be a looped 15-minute digital rendition of Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground, Parnngurr Area 2013, an iconic Aboriginal painting created by the Martu artists of the Sandy and Gibson Deserts of Western Australia, now held by the National Museum of Australia.

Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground by the Martu Artists will light the sails of the Sydney Opera House for this year’s Vivid Festival.Credit:Destination NSW

A celebration of Aboriginal culture and themes of resilience and diversity will mark the return of Vivid, the government-owned light, music and ideas festival, on August 6 following its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Without international headline acts due to border closures, the festival has been forced to rely on homegrown talent to anchor its extensive music program.

Hip hop star Sampa the Great headlines the Sydney Opera House which pre-COVID-19 had hosted The Cure in 2019 and Solange in 2018.

Carriagework’s line-up will span hip hop and rock and punk acts. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, one of Melbourne’s most prolific bands, will play all 75 songs from their back catalogue over five curated performances over five consecutive nights.

Vivid director Gill Minervini with Minister Stuart Ayres at the unveiling of the 2021 program.Credit: Louise Kennerley

Also performing at Carriageworks is Aria award-winning Amyl & the Sniffers and the Indigenous rapper Barkaa (Chloe Quayle) whose songs Our Lives Matter and I Can’t Breathe emerged during the Black Lives Matter protests in Australia.

Singer-songwriter Mia Rodriguez will perform at Luna Park while R&B singer Ngaiire will take over Parliament House.

At Sydney Town Hall, actor Jameela Jamil will talk body politics via video link from the United States and Magda Szubanski will speak to the healing power of arts.

The Cockle Bay immersive water walk.

As in previous years, the Vivid Light Walk will focus on Circular Quay, Barangaroo and Darling Harbour where a floating Light Walk is expected to draw large crowds.

“The installations and projections have been produced by 129 light artists from 19 countries and many will offer an immersive and interactive experience through voice and motion controls,” Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said.

“We are putting community safety first, working with NSW Health to ensure everyone is safe so we can all enjoy our Vivid Sydney experience and encourage our visitors to do the same by following the health advice.”

The painting that will be projected onto the Opera House reflects the artists’ connection with country, cataloguing seasons, traditional burning practices and cycles of regrowth and hunting.

Organisers promised the animation would be sensitive to the abstracted ancestral stories and traditional knowledge of the Martu people and not be “just pretty colours moving around”.

To keep the event COVID-19 safe, some sections of the Light Walk will be one way to ensure the movement of pedestrians, COVID marshals will be on-site and digital information kiosks and immersive and interactive installations will be touchless, activated through voice and movement.

Vivid runs from August 6-26. The full program is available here.

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