Performance review: Brisbane Art Boat

Experiencing the Brisbane River in a new light.

The Brisbane Art Boat is a multi-sensory experience on the Brisbane river involving a tribe of fluorescent unearthly characters, music, a bar, a guest artist, and the night sky. 

There are four different loops to choose from, and each cruise features a special guest from the Brisbane Festival. I was on the Northshore Loop which cruised the shores of Hamilton, and the special guest was the talented beat boxer Tom Thum.

The name Art Boat seems like a generous title for this experience which featured many artistic endeavours but had little artistic merit. There was no art show per se, but rather moments of artistic entertainment while cruising on the river.  

The cruise involved a soundscape of music and informative entertainment by Tribal Experiences Managing Director and Yuggera and Turrbal man, Shannon Ruska, who recounted some historical events pertinent to Indigenous people that occurred on the north shores of the river upon which we were cruising. This is important history, but the cruise was also hosting two private parties and with kids running around the big fluorescent characters, this distracting setting did not seem the right place to tell his stories 

Tom Thum was entertaining and catered well for both the children and the adults on the boat. He created sounds representative of different parts of the world and made us dream of travelling again. He also explained and showed us how beat boxing works. 

Overall, the Brisbane Art Boat offers a family-friendly river journey. The installation of fluorescent monsters with blinking eyes was amusing and made the cruise worth attending, especially in the company of children. 

Brisbane Art Boat: Northshore Loop
Brisbane Festival

This project is supported through the Giving Program by Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax

The cruise runs from 3- 26 September 2021, on weekends only
Tickets: $40

Federica Caso is a political analyst and writer. She has recently completed her PhD in International Politics at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses on the politics of aesthetics and art. She is interested in how art and culture are co-opted in systems of power and domination, and used as instruments of political resistance. She has written, hosted events, and facilitated discussions about the politics of aesthetics. She is a board member of House Conspiracy, an art centre located in West End, Brisbane.