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MY 21st birthday party involved a lot of mud tracked over the carpets of a Glebe terrace walk-up, an industrial-sized jar of pickled cucumbers provided by my mother (the grown-up take on party pies, I guessed at the time) and some very unimpressed neighbours.

I’ll admit Ivan Cheng has done me one better in creating weather festival, a four-day sound and art extravaganza – “in terms of it being a festival, that’s really just a matter of terminology” – that culminates in his own 21st birthday, April 12.

Fittingly, entry is by donation of cake.

“We’re not talking about global warming. If anything, it’s deliberately not politically-minded or activist,” Cheng explains.

“It’s part of why I didn’t want people to pay to enter; it’s about trying to create a really different atmosphere.”

With performances by and from Marcus Whale, James Brown and a cohort of instrumentalists, weather festival takes its cues from Stockhausen’s seven-day opera score, Aus Den Sieben Tagen; from ideas of natural laws and what Cheng calls “immanent balance”.

The classically trained clarinettist – “I took it up originally to help with my asthma, and it seems to have worked” – and Sydney Conservatorium of Music student says the event will be shaped by visual aesthetics, but that sound and music will bind it.

“It’s a collection of works that does contrast, I suppose, and it brings together different art mediums, but the scale of it is really quite small,” he says.

“I’m interested in drawing these invisible lines between things. It’s best explained by the idea of spectrums and finding links between extremes.”

There will be allegories and celebrations, aerobic sequences, and cake.

“What store well are cakes like panettone and pandoro,” Cheng points out on his website, by way of guidance.

“Cakes which require refrigeration are a little harder, but we will find a way.

“Cheesecake,” he continues, “is delicious.”


April 9-12. Serial Space, 33 Wellington St, Chippendale. Free (entry by donation of cake).