Adelaide Festival. Compagnie Carabosse. Adelaide Botanic Garden. 12 Mar 2020
French artistic collective Compagnie Carabosse has brought their fire-scape installations to Womadelaide several times in the past few years. It’s always a hypnotic delight for design and deliberation, but Fire Gardens is the Womad act on a gigantic scale. The audience enters in four half-hour increments from 8 pm to 9:30, to meter the numbers, but the trouble was, it’s so good, it seemed like nobody wanted to leave. By 9:30, it was uncomfortably crowded and a little annoying. Simple pots of fire line a garden path and invite one to follow the Congo line queue to the far end of the fire exhibit and the exotically lit Palm House (but actually, you can walk wherever you want within the lit area).
Unfortunately, the candles in the white singlets hanging inside were spilling so much wax that entry was prohibited. By this time, the soft yet thick and slightly fragrant smoke was nearly overpowering as you are in the midst of zillions of fire pots. Shadows eerily flicker off the foliage. Once the decision was made to sit out the crowds, the experience enhanced considerably. The latter part of the circuit has the best stuff – multi-pot sculptures of pots of fire mounted on kinetic structures. Coals burn in wire boats suspended above and reflected on the pond. A double bassist dressed like a hobo plays jazz without looking up from within his tiny tent while apparitions of people transit in the distant dark haze. There are many lovely aural and visual surprises that compel exploration, or simple relaxation and contemplation whilst lying on the grass or sitting on a swinging seat. When the crowd subsided, the experience was finally magical and enchanting.
When: 12 to 15 Mar
Where: Adelaide Botanic Garden