If you’ve been wandering down Roe Street recently, you would’ve noticed a little bit of a change in scenery, particularly around the Metro City area. Dali Land has taken over and the Surrealist Salon has moved in for the FRINGE WORLD season. Business partners Robert Burratti and Laith Tierney, who have curated the surrealist delight you didn’t know you needed, sat down with TAYLAH STRANO to talk about everything surreal. It all kicked off last Friday, January 18 with The Surrealist Ball, while the exhibition is ongoing and the Surrealist Salon is open till as late as 5am every night during FRINGE.
It’s all go at the moment?
Robert: It really is all go at the moment. It’s been a long process at putting all this together, but these last couple of weeks have been the big push to transform Metro City, which is a fantastic venue, into this amazing kind of surrealist wonderland that I think will knock people’s socks off when they step through the doors.
Laith: It’s almost transformed into a blank canvas and then we’ve taken a brush to it.
It’s a lot to tackle and get through with Dali Land and the Surrealist Salon, can you tell us what Dali Land is?
Robert: Dali Land kicked off as a bit of a celebration of surrealism, so it’s not just about Dali, even though it’s called Dali Land, it’s really about the wider genre of surrealism. It’s part exhibition, part performance space, it is probably the biggest celebration of Dali. It’s the 30th year since his passing. I dare say it’s one of the bigger celebrations that’ll be happening around the world. Basically we’ve got separate exhibition spaces, showings of these historical surrealists like Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Andre Masson, Rene Magritte, original pieces and graphics from those guys.
We’ve got a separate room of Dali’s work and it’s split to focus more on Dali’s mystical works, his use of archetypes, of the hypercube and the atom – all the things he was doing to join art and science and spirituality together. It’s a bit of a different take on Dali, there’s definitely the melting clocks and the stuff everyone wants to see, but hopefully more of a focus on his esoteric mystical work, which is interesting. It also just means we can go as crazy as we want with all the imagery.
When did you come across Dali and spark the love affair with him and his work?
Robert: Probably as a kid really. Surrealism has always hit a note with me and as a young kid of three or four, my favourite artist was James Gleeson at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and it’s wonderful to have his work in this exhibition as well, representing the Australian surrealists and I had the honour to represent his work as a dealer in WA up until his passing.
So it started as a kid really, just the fascination of art and the unconscious, because really, the legacy of surrealism is understanding, decoding and making visual the unconscious as a part of creativity – which we take for granted now, they [the artists] were really pioneering it.
Dali Land is a beautiful blend of art, Australian and from further afield, and you mentioned a performance space as well?
Robert: Everyday the exhibition sessions start from 11am and go through to 7pm. Then we have Briefs Factory, which are an amazing, award-winning Australian theatre company. They’ve developed a brand new performance called Dali After Dark – this is really on the cutting edge with the collaboration between ourselves and Briefs Factory, the cutting edge immersive art experience. It’s basically bringing the audience in, around 100 people every 15 minutes, they’re taken through the bowls of the building, in from the carpark – it replicates the early 1947 surrealist exhibitions where the public are brought through the back of building and pop up in different areas, gallery spaces, and there are spot performances all the way through the space.
After that performance there’s Club Briefs, which kicks off from 9pm. That happens until 10.30pm, and then The Surrealist Salon kicks off on the roof.
Laith, you’re running The Surrealist Salon, is it a space within Dali Land?
Laith: It’s the rooftop of Dali Land at Metro City. Doors are at 10pm, running till 5 in the morning every night throughout Fringe.
Till 5am!? That’s so Fringe….
Laith: Well yeah, I don’t know if you’ve seen for yourself but people get pretty loose around Fringe, they let their hair down. What I’ve done is programmed some top local and touring bands to come perform every night. Most bands are on around 11.30-12, with a headline act every night. Then we’ve popped all your Fringe weirdness, for lack of a better description, around the area – your fire breathers and burlesque dancers, psychotic Ronald McDonald clowns, magicians.
We’ve got everyone from Moana and Doublethink Prism to The Braves, Lost Talk, Swiftboi and These New South Whales all touring over here for it. We’ve got, at last count, 150 acts over 30 days. I think just the people walking through the door will be entertaining enough to watch.
I was looking at your website and you’ve also got Lily Allen playing… on a Tuesday!?
Robert: She just happened to be passing through, fortunately we’ve been working really closely with the guys from Megatix and they’ve been amazing, a really big part of this project and they’ve been able to pull in some big hitters for us too. We might even have a couple of extra performances through the program.
Laith: If you got to the Lily Allen concert you’ll have to see Demon Days performing upstairs after. It’s a pretty good night… for a Tuesday.