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Rio’s grown-up wonderland + more tips for cultured travellers

A grown-up wonderland in Rio

...and other cultural events worth travelling for

...and other cultural events worth travelling for

August/September 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO AN OLYMPIAN ART ENDEAVOUR 
Visitors to Rio for the Olympic games would do well to visit the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea de Inhotim in the neighbouring state, Minas Gerais. Inhotim is an outdoor contemporary art gallery (above) that feels like a grown-up wonderland. Over 500 pieces are displayed atop a 140-hectare (346-acre) tropical plateau. Some are secreted away among the plants and trees, others live in site-specific galleries; people potter between them on foot or by golf buggy. In a nod to the surrounding mining country, Chris Burden, the late American performance artist, threw giant steel girders into the ground. Doug Aitken drilled down in his pavilion to broadcast the sound of the deep earth around the room; a sea of giant steel balls make up Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden”.

Many of the works are interactive and exhibition openings, talks and concerts happen regularly. Swimming is encouraged. For those who can’t make it, Adriana Varejão’s “Celacanto Provoca Maremoto” (“Coelacanth Causes Tsunami”) will be on show to the world in August: an enlarged copy of her swirling blue-tiled collage now swathes the outside of the Olympic Aquatic Stadium. 
Inhotim Contemporary Art Museum, Tues-Sat, 9.30-17.30 

SYDNEY SERIOUS MOONLIGHT 
A poet writes by moonlight; a warrior-priest prays beneath a lowering sky; a courtesan pines for her lover. For his series “One Hundred Aspects of the Moon”, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, the last great designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, assembled a dramatis personae taken from Noh plays, Japanese legend and history. To his audience, these characters were larger than life. But they have bit parts compared with the Moon, which appears in every one of these prints – round as a pat of butter, slender as a young girl’s arm, its milky face glimpsed from behind a spray of plum blossoms.

Yoshitoshi’s career spanned the second half of the 19th century. The introduction of photography heralded the eventual decline of his art – but not before Yoshitoshi reinvigorated the form. His Moon series was so popular, entire editions would sell out before dawn on the day they were published. Now the series is on show in Sydney. Best seen by moonlight.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Aug 20th-Nov 20th

LIMPOPO DANCING IN THE VELD
South Africa’s biggest music festival takes place on a farm in the dry, dusty bushveld of Limpopo, beneath thorn trees and a blazing sun. This will be the 22nd year of Oppikoppi (Afrikaans slang for “on the hill”), held near the mining town of Northam about three hours north of Johannesburg. What began as an Afrikaner rock-music festival has grown increasingly representative of South Africa, with some 20,000 fans drawn to seven stages and diverse genres. Expect a few international acts but mostly the best in South African music. This year’s line-up includes singer-songwriter Nakhane Touré, electronic dance duo The Kiffness, and rock crowd favourites Fokofpolisiekar. August is winter in the southern hemisphere, and the dry season here, meaning reliably warm, sunny days. After the sun goes down, campfires take the edge off the evening chill. South Africans who vote in the local elections on August 3rd – and show the ink stain on their fingers as proof – are allowed early entry.
Aug 5th-7th

COLOMBIA BLOOMING MARVELLOUS
Two decades after the death of its most infamous son, Pablo Escobar, Medellín has emerged from the shadow of the narcos and shed its murderous reputation. In August, in the Feria de Flores, it flaunts Colombia’s astonishing biodiversity. The climax of the festival is the Silleteros parade, when 400 campesinos (farmers) come from the mountains to strut through the streets with giant, vibrant flower wheels on their backs (above) – a tradition that recalls the times when the inhabitants’ ancestors had to carry their masters up and down the surrounding mountains. 

The festival is about more than flowers: it’s a celebration of the department of Antioquia’s culture. Expect horse-riding competitions, bizarre dog shows, and party buses wild with rum and aguardiente, the local firewater. 
Jul 31st-Aug 9th

 

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