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This year's Melbourne Festival program pays homage to the big top, including this Circus Oz exhibition at the Arts Centre

Circus never quite bit the sawdust, but it does seem to be undergoing a renaissance of late. This year’s Melbourne Festival has an arm of the program focusing on the big-top arts, but with the main ensemble of Circus Oz already locked into a tour, it seemed remiss not to include the company that had been reigning since 1978. And so, the idea of Vault was born.

This interactive, mixed-media exhibition will feature throughout the festival at the Arts Centre. It’s made up of several high-tech exhibits and draws content from the Living Archive – a three-year collation of archival footage of Circus Oz history including footage of their very first show at Moomba.

“The Wall of Wonders shows off the ooh-ah aspect of circus,” Circus Oz Curator David Carlin says of these exhibits. “The Marathon of Marvels will continuously play 110 hours of footage across the three weeks of the festival, and the Memory Booth has key performers telling stories about their own performances.”

And while audiences will be the primary beneficiaries, the company itself has learned a lot from the process of digitalising their work. “You’re capturing a visual, physical and oral history that ordinarily can’t be notated,” says Circus Oz Artistic Director Mike Finch. “It’s an incredibly valuable resource for the company.”

As for the idea that circus is on the rise, the company takes the long view. “Circus is always there, it evolves and changes, but it never really goes away,” says Finch, who believes we’re second only to Montreal and Paris as a circus city. “Melbourne is a world centre for the art.”

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By Tim Byrne   |   Photos by Ponch Hawkes

Vault: The Non-Stop Performing History of Circus Oz details

Gallery One
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004

Telephone 1300 182 183

Nearby Stations: Flinders Street

Price FREE
More free events

Date 10 Oct 2014-26 Oct 2014

Open 9am-late

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