Monday, February 28, 2011

Jurassic Lounging

The lure is curiosity- socialites, suits at the end of the work day, students and artists tempted into a museum to sip wine and dance amongst relics and artefacts of a time passed. What could be happening in a museum that could attract such an eclectic crowd, on a tuesday night, just as the sun goes down?

I enter with calm in my body, this is my 4th Jurassic Lounge and it feels almost like home. The familiar rite of entering via the bar to use our little red coupons. I hear soft sounds coming from within the skeleton room and assume Charity Turner. Skeletons lounge and perch around the action whilst the living follow lead on cushions and chairs. It's after hours healing time and Charity soothes with her guitar and flute touting sister. She sets the tone. But only for this room. Up the stairs, around the bend, into the next room and the magic feels different. Inspiration emanates from each room with its own set of sensations and thought provocation.

As I make my way up one of the staircases I hope will take me where I want to go, I accept that I might end up in any unknown realm of the museum- I just don't have the map reading expertise to explore this place in any order. So I let the spirit of the space guide me on my adventure. I find a balcony room framed by taxidermy birds behind sheets of glass. Their souls trapped within their lifeless bodies a juxtaposition to the excited crowds fluttering in and out.

I'm peering in at snails and insects as torch light flickers around me and sets onto hidden suprises; a prey bird with a rat in mouth is about to take flight, a dingo peeps around the corner lazing and watching... two wizards mix and match images and sound on screen, eyes glued to their tools 21st century image and sound makers; their laptops. The vibe is one of childlike delight.

A few slight detours and I am in a very familiar place- to the right of the looming dinosaur bones which break the space into two. The Kino Collective films. The Festivalists' (who are Jurassic Lounge co-organisers) first baby Kino, is Sydney's cell in an international movement of underground filmmakers who meet regularly for an open mic of their short films. This is my family. My home and new faces are peering up and revelling in the spark that makes Kino so special- diverse films of comedy, macabre, bizarre and poetic pieces made on no budget with little time with the mantra “don't think just shoot”. I watch a few even though I have so many times before, it re-enlivens something in me and I hope that it does for some other people there too.

I realise that I should check out the beginning of the live art or the transformation won't mean much later on. I look first from the perspective of above, through one of the many secret peep holes into the various spaces of the museum. I see curved lines, the first thoughts of artist Jumbo. Many thoughts are to be put onto canvas throughout the night keeping guests on their toes and engaging them in the present tense of artmaking.

I suddenly feel like seeing the some of the Wildlife Photographer of The Year. I have avoided it at previous Jlounges because I felt I needed to dedicate a good amount of time and focus that I didn't have until now.

The exhibit itself is nothing short of amazing in all its mystical, awe-inspiring and tragic undertones. If the aim is to get people talking about what makes photos such as these so important for human sight then doing it whilst people are connecting with one another in a social setting makes so much sense. People bending to read descriptions, gasping, laughing, pointing here and there and making their way through the spiralling exhibit was touching. The exhibition was most poignant in highlighting the fragile state of nature much of which is teetering on the edge of oblivion. It is easy to disconnect from these facts, these moments that exist so far out of the bubble that is a city.

It's time to get another drink and feel some grooves. The Brutal Poodles get me excited thinking perhaps a novelty band would bring me out of my deep reverie considering the animals and our history; the earth. However, to their credit, there was no novelty. Just sweet beats layered on top of one another, building and seeping into your skin. The perfect push towards the silent disco for some JackShit action.

Always everyones favourite thing about Jurassic Lounge- putting on headphones and shaking that daytime stress from their bones. This is the part where everyone feels like they're doing something a little bit naughty or a little bit crazy. Drinks in hand, grooving around skeletons and glass encased artefacts just feels wrong enough to feel so right. The double aspect is the spectacle that onlookers experience of silent rocking out!

Just as the Museum announces it will soon close, which always seems to come around too quickly, I was dashing up to the gem room which I had not known about until tonight! My eyes darted wildly over sparkles of the most vivid colours and wondered about the potential magic inherent within. The second announcement sounds that the museum is now closing. Its the second closing of the day and I guess a museum has to close sometime...

Half of what goes on at Jurassic Lounge is part of the Museum's regular exhibition showcase but the energy during this special event makes it seem so much more important and worthy- the key design aspect of these nights, aimed to re-ignite the interest of museums to young adults and adults alike who spend most of their time elsewhere without a thought dedicated to when they will next be visiting the Australian Museum. We have really got to thank Clover Moore too. She wants people to get less smashed and stop causing such a racquet on Sydney streets. Perhaps opening venues like this, and giving people some less predictable options, people will not be looking to excessive alcohol consumption and fists to keep themselves entertained...

Leaving Jurassic Lounge is not a thing of sadness. There are still so many of these nights to go. The acts are a surprise until just before each one, but mainly you go to Jurassic Lounge without knowing what to expect. You go to Jurassic Lounge for the surprises.

22/2/11- also posted here.

photos credited to the ever talented alexander papasavvas.