The Coolest Things To Catch This Sydney Festival

13 January 2016 | 11:16 am | Staff Writer

Our humble picks this Sydney Festival

Having kicked off last week with a bang and lots of confetti at The Flaming Lips' free Sydney gig, Sydney Festival is back for another year. Running from 7 to 26 January, there are so many varieties of events, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are our picks for the things you can't miss this Sydney Festival — head to their website for more information.

The Book Of Sand 

Taking its name from one (and inspiration from several) of Jorge Luis Borges' stories, The Book Of Sand is an interactive story/immersive music video that attempts to capture the infinite. Using three film layers, played simultaneously on a changeable time loop, Composer Michel van der Aa creates "a space where all place in the world exist simultaneously". It's an impressively oblique and beautiful way of storytelling that offers a new perspective on the protagonist (played by Kate Miller-Heidke) with every viewing. 

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Exit Ceremonies

Bringing together the Australian Art Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring, and composer-pianists Austin Buckett and Simon James Phillips, Exit Ceremonies seems like a sonic gumbo, packed with strange but exciting ingredients. Taking the capabilities of large pipe organs to their lush snapping point, then adding trumpets, turntables, percussion, violin, cello, bass, a huge array of electronic effects, and even a reel-to-reel tape machine to the mix, Exit Ceremonies is a rich, vibrant celebration of darkness, time and space through sound.

23 Jan, Verbugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium Of Music

Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom brings her folk, classical, pop fusion to the Festival when she plays her first Australian show in five years at the Opera House. The Californian singer/harpist recently featured in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, dropped a new record, Divers, and is set to captivate and beguile when she plays Sydney.

21 Jan, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

In Between Two

Joelistics and Sietta unite to explore the intersection of two cultures at Carriageworks. As directed by Suzanne Chaundy, and developed with William Yang and Annette Shun Wah, the work portrays what it means to be an Asian-Australian living in 2015, part -storytelling, including spoken word and photography, part-music, acoustic and electronic.

21 — 24 Jan, Carriageworks Bay 20

All The Sex I've Ever Had

You are, if you think about it, just the continued and walking proof that G-ma and G-pa have done 'the sex' at least once. And just because they might not be as limber they once were, and their kids have moved out and had their own kids, doesn't mean they've lost (or should lose) the horn. Toronto-based Mammalian Diving Reflex think it's time to break the taboos surrounding elderly intimacy, bringing together a cast of over-65s to share their wisdom in a tender, humorous and honest piece about the nature of romance and sexuality.

21 — 24 Jan, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

40 Portraits

Head across the Sydney CBD to catch photographer Eva Vermandel's contribution to the anniversary program this year — she's taken portraits of figures from the Festival, and you can find them in bus stands across the city, and at an exhibition at UNSW Galleries. Featured artists include Kate Champion and David Byrne, as well as volunteers, audience members and behind-the-scenes staff.

To 23 Jan, UNSW Galleries; To 26 Jan, Sydney CBD

Cut The Sky

Cut The Sky is a dance work that comes to Sydney off the back of a successful season at last year's Perth Festival. Featuring music from Edwin Lee Mulligan, Eric Avery, Buffalo Springfield, Nick Cave and Ngaiire, the work fuses together dance, song, poetry and visuals, in an exploration of our past, present and future, and our relationship with Country, as seen through an Aboriginal lens.  

14 — 17 Jan, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

The Ephemeral City

A cardboard city created by French artist Olivier Grossetete, but built by people of all ages, in a new cultural space at Barangaroo Reserve. The city will then be demolished on Australia Day, after the new space sees BOXWARS, and a Flying Fox whirling people between the buildings. In The Cutaway you can also experience video work from Shaun Gladwell, Skateboarders Vs Minimalism.

To 26 Jan, The Cutaway At Barangaroo Reserve