Parrtjima: Art, light and music combine as Parrtjima announces 2019 festival program

Extensive program of lighting installations, interactive artworks and performances headlined by breakthrough Aussie artist, Baker Boy

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light is set to wow visitors to Australia’s Red Centre this year, with organisers today announcing a heady mix of acclaimed musical acts, new lighting installations and interactive artworks as part of the festival’s bigger-than-ever, 10-day program running from Friday, 5 April to Sunday, 14 April.

The free public festival is the only indigenous light festival of its kind in the world, proudly showcasing the oldest continuous culture on Earth through the newest technology against the backdrop of the incredible MacDonnell Ranges – a 300-million-year-old natural canvas.

Renowned First Nations creative director Rhoda Roberts AO returns to curate the festival for a third year, alongside creative consultants and producers AGB Events, creating a showstopping event that will combine new light installations with art, music, talks and ideas to shine a light on the stories, sounds and rhythms of Central Australia – home of the Arrernte of Mparntwe.

Acclaimed indigenous hip hop artist Baker Boy will headline this year’s festival, bringing his energetic, multilingual sounds to the infinite spaces of the vast Red Centre. The Arnhem Land-born rapper, who enthrals audiences with incredible live performances which switch from English to his native tongue Yolnu Matha, will take to the stage on the final night of the festival.

Danzal Baker, the musical genius behind the Baker Boy, was recently named 2019 Young Australian of the Year in recognition of both his musical talent and dedicated advocacy for indigenous Australian culture. He will join a range of other performers and voices in a series of soon-to-be-announced workshops, talks, and performances which will build out this year’s program.

This year Parrtjima – A Festival in Light coincides with the UN Year of Indigenous Languages and in recognition, the 2019 theme is Language Expressions, which will inspire and inform every light projection, art installation and program highlight.

“This year Parrtjima celebrates the ways in which Central Australian artists can evolve and experiment with different styles and materials, while staying true to the ancient philosophy of connection and Country.

“Importantly, this connection is grounded in the region’s vast network of languages, which, both beautiful and complex, have proved to be a powerful instrument in the development of stories and artistic forms of expression beyond the spoken word. Festival guests can expect to be spellbound,” said Parrtjima curator Rhoda Roberts.

Seven extraordinary lighting installations and effects will be showcased across the festival in Alice Springs Desert Park and the Todd Mall precinct, which was introduced last year to allow locals and visitors alike to experience stunning and immersive light art projections and interactive activities in the heart of Alice Springs.

New installations to this year’s festival range from an impressive illuminated tunnel which will welcome guests to the festival space, a series of over-sized sculptures which tell the lesser-known social history of Aboriginal station workers and their language of the land, an interactive and over-sized maze for children, and a series of sculptured large-scale moths which, set against a backdrop of incredible lighting effects along Todd Mall, provide another layer to the story of Country and the Arrernte relationship to the physical and spiritual world.

Festival goers will be treated to a theatrical experience unlike any other in 2019, with the light show on the majestic MacDonnell Ranges to set the benchmark for future festivals. Two kilometres of the Ranges will act as a canvas for a series of stunning lighting effects depicting the stories of Country and desert songlines, while the voice of actor Aaron Pedersen , an Arrernte man, takes the audience on a stirring journey through country, the kinship system and language.

A festival favourite, Ahelhe Itethe – Living Sands (Grounded), also returns in 2019, captivating visitors with a new selection of vibrant, animated artworks showcased on desert sands. The sequence of works will create a giant, seamless canvas on Country, accompanied by an atmospheric soundscape. Festival guests can enter the projection space for an immersive experience and become part of the art. This year seven local and Central Australian First Nations artists have contributed works to the installation.

Northern Territory Major Events Company General Manager Tim Watsford said Parrtjima is a family-friendly event which welcomes and connects visitors with original, contemporary and traditional First Nations art, providing meaningful artistic opportunities to Central Australian artists.

“Parrtjima signals the generosity and spirit of a peoples who have and always will care for the Country and for the many travellers who visit this timeless land.

“With that in mind, we welcome visitors from Australia and abroad to this year’s incredible festival of light, sound and immersion to experience the Red Centre, its art, culture and people, in a way they have never experienced before. Come join us, look at Alice Springs through a new lens and get a unique taste of Central Australia.

“We’re proud that Parrtjima continues to raise the profile of Central Australian artists and share their rich culture with the world,” he said.

An expanded program of events, including live music and artist talks will be announced in coming weeks.