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I Listened to Climax by Usher 61 Times at Art Not Apart 2018

Art Not Apart Festival: Climax. Photo Credit: Kofi Owusu-Ansah

2018’s Art Not Apart festival took place on the 17th of March, and sprawled throughout the realms of NewActon. The theme for this year’s weird and wonderful festival was “Climax”. In respect of this theme, I decided that I was going to grab my earphones and venture through the festival while listening to Usher’s song “Climax” on repeat. Would the combination of beautiful R&B and art bring me to tears? Would a certain installation, along with Usher’s sultry vocals, place me in the driver’s seat of a dramatic, imaginary music video? Would this explosive combination lead me to a different kind of climax? The answers to these questions both intrigued and frightened me, but I knew there was only one way to find them out.


“The Otherside” by StylizedImpact. Photo Credit: Kofi Owusu-Ansah

As I stepped out of my car (obviously blasting Usher’s 2012 masterpiece from the aux), I was immediately stunned by the confronting wall of art that surrounded Acton’s Shine Dome. Around this rock wall was a widely varying display of local art from all of the corners of Canberra. A particular piece by StylizedImpact named “The Otherside” deeply struck me. As I let Usher’s silky falsetto sink deeper into my soul, I could truly understand the chaos and confusion that the artist was going through during the creation of the piece. Judging by the orange metal things that they put on the canvas, I could tell that they too had been listening to Usher’s 2012 hit.

I wanted to reach out to local festival patrons to get their thoughts and feelings and art admirer, Linda Hill, answered the call for an interview.

“I need you to put in these earphones that are playing Usher’s smash hit “Climax” and tell me how you feel about this art,” I requested.

“What?” She asked me.

Pink + White by Musonga Mbogo. Photo Credit: Kofi Owusu-Ansah

“I need you to put in these earphones that are playing Usher’s smash hit “Climax” and tell me how you feel about this art,” I repeated, as she clearly hadn’t heard me correctly the first time.

Hill told me that the song lyrics “really bring out the painting’s fragile yet aggressive humanity.” I agreed. She declined any further conversation with me.

A myriad of talented musical artists were playing towards Hotel Hotel and the Nishi Gallery. KG, as well as D’Opus & Roshambo lit up the stage with their ferocious hip-hop stylings. Maya Jupiter entranced the crowd with wonderful global flavours, and the Brass Knuckle Brass Band brought a much-appreciated jazzy atmosphere to the day’s events. I couldn’t actually hear any of them over Usher’s 2012 magnum opus “Climax”, but they all looked like they did a great job.

Brass Knuckle Brass Band performing. Photo Credit : Kofi Owusu-Ansah

The lobby of Hotel Hotel further managed to prove to me that Art Not Apart definitely stayed true to their philosophy of bringing every kind of conceivable art form together, and I was lucky enough to witness parts of a highly choreographed group tap dance routine by Tap Kix. Donned in matching sequin shirts, and a 1950s swing attitude, the group dazzled the audience that stretched up Hotel Hotel’s long entrance staircase. Unfortunately, to the tempo of Usher’s 2012 marvel, “Climax”, which they had no idea that they were supposed to be dancing to, they were horribly off beat.

Tap Kix performing. Photo Credit: Kofi Owusu-Ansah

Outside of the Nishi Gallery was a small band, surrounded by a much bigger audience. I quickly learned that the band was Mixtape Chorus, and the crowd that they had gathered were actually going to serve as the choir for a song that they didn’t know; more than live music, this was a live art piece. The concept intrigued me and I was very eager to join in.

One of the band’s helpers handed me a sheet of music with song lyrics, however I quickly realised that these were the lyrics to a song called “Feel It Still” by Portugal The Man, and not the lyrics to Usher’s monumental 2012 masterwork “Climax”. I was deeply offended and left immediately.

Patrons enjoying the day. Photo Credit: Kofi Owusu-Ansah

Along with bringing all kinds of art together, Art Not Apart festival brought many different people together, from all over Canberra and surrounding areas. The festival was free, with the exception of a few ticketed events such as film screenings. I frequently saw people I knew, which was actually quite annoying because I had to keep taking out one of my earphones to speak with them. Very rude of them, can’t they see I’m Climaxing?

Speaking of climaxing, in my favourite sense, I decided to journey into the Shine Dome for Alli Sebastian Wolf’s Clitoris Seminar, in which she educated an audience, in conference style, of the histories, functions and controversies of the clitoris. I lowered the volume of my music and took out one earphone for this segment. Wearing an extravagant clitoris costume, while also holding a large golden model of a clitoris, Wolf, backed by Usher, provided a truly enlightening experience.

After wandering around the festival for four hours, and reaching my 61st play of Usher’s 2012 piece de resistance, “Climax”, the rollercoaster of emotions that I had been experiencing all day had proved to be very exhausting. The festival presented to me an unforgettable time, but as a great philosopher once said (in 2012), I was going nowhere fast, and I reached my climax.

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