Next Wave Festival 2008, Jeff Khan’s inaugural festival as Artistic Director, featured works responding to the theme Closer Together. This was as much a question as a statement – given the ease of modern digital communication, how have we been simultaneously drawn together and thrust apart? NWF 2008 placed a strong emphasis upon interdisciplinary approaches to arts practice, and Khan and the team made a strong effort to help foster artists’ ideas, from which novel applications of media would follow.
Key projects included Willoh S. Weiland’s interstellar performance piece Yelling At Stars where Weiland literally transmitted her performance into space via radio; the dark and occasionally salacious Nightclub program housed at the Melbourne institutions Billboard and The Men’s Gallery; the Federation Square-wide suite of ARI -led installation works Membrane; and performance collective post’s “half teen party, half ghost train”, Swimming Home In Heels. Around 155,000 people attended NWF 2008, and if not partaking of a performance or exhibition they were drawn in by forums like the enormous Polyphonic program, where artists were invited to approach their practice in discussion or workshops. Providing an apt and timely opportunity for response, NWF 2008 was a critical mass, bringing people “closer and closer together while maintain a high constant stress”.