If you're counting on doing most of your Fusebox Festival activity during the second weekend of the annual hybrid arts hootenanny, be advised: There is no second weekend this year.
Where most successful festivals in Austin expand, adding more days or weeks on to their schedules, the ever-off-the-beaten-path Fusebox has opted to contract in 2016: packing 60 interdisciplinary arts projects into five days instead of the usual 10. It's a bid by founder and Artistic Director Ron Berry to give festivalgoers a more concentrated schedule in hopes that more patrons from outside Austin might be lured here for the fest.
As usual, Berry has booked an exciting roster of artists from across the nation and the globe, with this year's participants hailing from as far away as Angola, Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, and Russia. Among them:
• Composer/artist Mark Mothersbaugh, who will lead a performance of orchestral versions of DEVO covers and his compositions for films, performed on a six-sided keyboard of his own invention
• Artist collective My Barbarian, which will present the results of its residency at UT-Austin's Visual Arts Center, during which 10 Austinites will be led through a five-stage workshop
• Royal Court Theatre's Manwatching, in which text about female desire written by an anonymous woman will be read aloud by a man who hasn't seen it before the performance
• Tetsuya Umeda of Osaka, who will create a site-specific installation/performance rooted in strange and surprising physics experiments that he will perform in front of an audience
Naturally, the ATX will be well represented, with the Rude Mechs taking a second swing at their latest show in development, Field Guide (and as near as we can tell, the Brothers Karamazov and stand-up comedy are still in the mix); Catastrophe Theory Arts, giving us a second look at its Notes on the Classification of Spectral Lines, the Art of Water Writing, and Other Important Ephemera; Austin Revolutions Per Minute, which will provide a curated collection of local music on vinyl for you to enjoy in special listening rooms; Jules Buck Jones' Animal Facts Club, which will mash-up art and science in an hourlong lecture/performance on The Biodiversity of Texas; Los Outsiders, who will serve up an over-the-top absurdist fashion show called Sew Wasted; and composer Matthew Steinke, who will create a musical installation in which common iron objects are used to create sounds and tones through electromagnetism.
This year's festival hub, where Fuseboxers can meet nightly to connect with one another and festival artists, will be the Austin Saengerrunde Hall, 1607 San Jacinto.
And for the third year in a row, Fusebox will be entirely free to attend, under the Free Range Art initiative. Reservations for festival events can be made at www.fuseboxfestival.com.