– by Lucy Nelson

(photo credit: Adam Thomas)

On Monday night, curious Canberrans flocked to a quiet inner-city car park. Why? To behold some car art – or ‘cart’ – that is, art that takes place in, on, around and about cars, many of them bite-sized installations for two or three audience members at a time. Sadly this event was a one-off, so I will now attempt to recreate the experience for you.

To begin, you are ushered into a jalopy with a flashing disco light attached to the ceiling. Your chauffeur doubles as a DJ, pumping cheesy mash-ups and zipping around London circuit. Occasionally, he says taxi-drivery things : ‘You like this music?’  You, his audience, are three strangers, suddenly sharing the unique intimacy of a micro-road trip, dancing and whooping in the back seat.

Next, you sit in the back of a van where two members of Poncho Circus provide you with a wizard hat and juggle in a confined space. Impressively, they stand on their heads and have an upside-down game of paper scissors rock. Highlight? Shit yeah.

A hop, skip and a laneway away, a charming Butoh-inspired performance unravels. A nearby car flicks on its headlights, illuminating the makeshift stage. The audience are silently summoned to participate and, happily, they do.

THEN you get to watch legendary Canberra band Hashemoto for FREE, and they have managed to squeeze a double bass, a piano-on-wheels, a guitar, three chairs and themselves into the back of a van.  Then something’s happening in a far corner of the car park so you go and discover an original stage play in a Volvo (created by Mess Hall). Then you go back and watch Hashemoto again but this time they need help with percussion and so you, their little audience, huddle around the back of the van and provide the necessary beats by thumping on the chassis. They don’t seem to mind.

Audiences mingle after each treat. Passersby look suspicious.

Your final stop for the evening is hosted by Melbourne choreographer Gareth Hart, performing just for you. As you hop into his passenger seat, he offers you tea, chocolate, a set of headphones and his kind, unflinching eye contact (should you wish to hold it) in the rear-view mirror. He gives you a gift that is unique to the time you’ve just spent together.

A warm-fuzzy evening in a cold-gritty car park. Tops.


Lucy is co-founder of the Canberra chapter of global dance community No Lights No Lycra. She blogs here: http://nlnlcanberra.blogspot.com.au/ and tweets here: @fings_wat_R_tru


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