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Perth Festival 2023: Artistic director Iain Grandage unveils 70th anniversary season with Björk and more


Perth Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage is thrilled that after two years of featuring local artists, the festival’s 70th anniversary can be celebrated without the border restrictions caused by the pandemic, welcoming international artists to create alongside local artists as we celebrate stories from here and beyond.

“The vision was to bring back as many foreign artists as possible, but international artists who want to collaborate with local artists,” Grandage explains.

“It’s one thing for me to share beautiful art from around the world at a festival, but it’s even better when those artists work alongside local artists.”

At the top of Grandage’s wish list, there was no one better to pull it off than art-pop icon Björk, who will return to Perth for the first time since 2008 to close the Perth Festival with an exclusive Australian season of her live concerts , Cornucopia.

Camera iconPerth Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage. credit: Jessica Wilde

Cornucopia, co-directed by Björk and Argentinian director Lucrezia Martel, is a sci-fi pop concert based on her 2017 environmental album Utopia with additional songs from new album Fossora and hits from her 30-year solo career.

Described as a feast for all the senses, the theatrical week-long riverside residency featuring musicians, flutists and a local choir will be held in a purpose-built pavilion in Langley Park to an audience of around 5,000 people an evening.

Grandage admits that Björk made the cut at the Perth festival: he included the popular singer-songwriter with an uncompromising artistic vision in his 2018 pitch document when he applied for the position of artistic director.

“At the top of the list of people I would like to invite to the festival was Björk,” he says.

“The person from Australia who was on that list was Tim Minchin, who entered the 2021 program; it was a little easier to call him.’

Björk's Cornucopia will close the 2023 Perth Festival.
Camera iconBjörk’s Cornucopia will close the 2023 Perth Festival. credit: Delivered

The Icelandic supernova is the epitome of Grandaj’s theme for next year’s event, Djinda (which means “stars” in Noongar), which features a theme for each year of its presence at the Perth festival – Karla (fire) in 2020, Billa (river ) in 2021. and Vardan (ocean) in 2022.

“Before I became this I was a composer and for creative people there is this thing called ‘blank page syndrome’ where the whole world is your oyster, as is the case with an international festival, there are too many opportunities and so you I wonder how best to justify my choice,” says Grandage.

“Having a theme helps focus the conversation, helps size that page of possibilities, and helps you think about a similar theme across a number of different art forms and thus see how those art forms connect .

“I found it, like the artistic partners, a great way of defining our thinking and certainly defining what Noongar stories we wanted to tell. This always leads to very beautiful stories that we show at the opening and other events of the festival.”

Opening Perth Festival 2023 Djoondal.
Camera iconOpening Perth Festival 2023 Djoondal. credit: Louise Coghill

As with the free public opening of the 2023 Perth Festival in Joondalup on Lake Joondalup on February 10-12, celebrating the Noongar creation story of a spirit woman with long white hair who created the Milky Way and whose name lives on in Joondalup. a spectacle of ancient storytelling, music and technology with lights, lasers and drones.


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