Music festivals are something close to my heart, being a veteran of several Glastonbury’s, Bestivals, V & Greenmans. The lack of showers and unlimited supply of mud make for an interesting challenge to keeping clean!
Music festivals have never been just about the music, but now more than ever they are places where thousands of people gather to share ideas, experiences, cider and sometimes bodily fluids.
Whether boutique gatherings or tented cities, organisers and visitors have to deal with plentiful mud and dust, limited showers and loos, and numerous humans (and their germs) in close proximity…
All of which makes festivals the perfect places for us to take our Dirt Season in 2011. With the help of festival old-hands, emerging talent, scientists and gastronomes, the Wellcome Trust will be exploring all that is filthy this summer.
Shangri-La at Glastonbury
22-26 June 2011
Shangri-La is the after-hours pleasure city of Glastonbury Festival – a futuristic and dystopian wonderland created by over 1500 crew and artists. It has a sequential storyline and a full-field film set that, when combined with the performers and audience, creates a unique and wholly immersive world for the audience to become lost within.
The 2011 storyline is pre-apocalyptic – we see the population of Shangri-La preparing to flee. The slums have spread far and wide a virulent disease is spreading rapidly so they’ve given up on trying to save the planet. Instead, they are about to colonise a new planet, leaving all the rubbish behind. They’ve already shrinkwrapped or shipped off their most valuable assets and now they are about to give the last and best party of their lives. But in order to get to the new, much cleaner and much much better Shangri-La, people must prove themselves to be free of any form of moral or physical contamination…
The Virus is spread via touch. By covering the walls of our slum-land alleys in invisible UV paint, we have a visual way of ‘infecting’ tens of thousands and creating two groups: the contaminated and the clean. The contaminated will be funnelled through The Decontamination Chambers, a series of hexagonal interactive installations manned by Guerilla Science that offers both moral and physical decontamination. Post-decontamination, the newly cleansed individual will be dressed in a bio-hazard suit and allowed access to The Skywalk, the first stage of the journey to a cleaner place. The Skywalk is a towering, sleek, white walkway – the physical manifestation of the concept that the clean is elevated above the dirty. Floating above the filth of the slum below, it provides a prime vantage point from which one can survey the filthy unfortunates below.
Dirty Banquet (2 April)
In preparation for their appearance at Secret Garden Party, Guerilla Science – working in partnership with experimental food artisans Bompas & Parr – will host a Dirty Banquet inside a spectacular secret London location. This unprecedented feast of filth will showcase dirty delicacies, such as haggis, peaty Islay whisky, fermented kimchi, civet coffee, and charcoal-cleansed Thames water – each course inspired by the physical, biological, ethical, architectural, social, political and temporal dimensions of dirt.
Wellcome Trust-funded researchers and lecturers will accompany each course, feeding our guests with ideas about the nature of dirt: anthropologist Val Curtis will guide us through the evolution of disgust, and epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani, author of ‘The Wisdom of Whores’, will speak on sexuality. This edible adventure will provide diners with an unprecedented culinary experience that promises to be both thought-provoking as well as surprisingly appetizing.
Secret Garden Party (21-24 July)
Guerrilla Science will host a dirty day at one of the UK’s most colourful and riotous music festivals, the Secret Garden Party. With dirty dance offs, a spectrum of dirty habits, a naughty writing workshop, an audience with a smelly tweeter and celebrations of odour in human behaviour, expect much dishing of dirt and filthy good fun. At sunset, they will host an unprecedented banquet (building on the one held in London on 2 April with experimental food artisans Bompas & Parr), complete with dirty delicacies and salacious speakers.
Late-summer festival (tbc)
By September we won’t have quite cleaned up with the summer festivals yet: there will be plenty more muck to rake, mud to sling and dirt to share. Guerilla Science and the Wellcome Trust have lots more filthy fun in the works.