Where did the idea for Objectify spawn you ask?!? Cackled Brian as he glanced up from stirring the cauldron.
With an eye of newt, the skin of a jaded frog, a vial of sweat off the back of a homeless circus artist, a grouping of circles, crispy burnt flesh from a virgin toy burn, a selection of psychadelic trails plucked from the minds of helpless hippies, and you! You are the flavour. In the pot you go… buuuurrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnn mmmmyyyy precious! Ah hah ha ha ha!!
A long long time ago, about 17 years in fact, I discovered music festivals. I was a huge music fan. Predicting music trends, flying across Australia for concerts, heading out each weekend to meet local bands. Michael Jackson was one of my first concerts. Festivals were a different thing back then; a music lovers scene. As with any great alternative entertainment eventually mainstream takes over. I made it to 13 years of Big Day Out in a row, calling an end to the run after the joy of being at a free open respectful festival with music lovers was replaced with obnoxious disrespectful wankers who were more interested in how many pills they could pop rather than what music was playing.
Before the big festivals sold out they were full of passionate people who enjoyed more than being wasted. Seeing bands they loved. The atmosphere was relaxed, often having conversations as you walked around the festival grounds, friendly talking to security, police, punters. Often you would see band members out watching other bands.
“Cool” took over. People started going to party, not for music. Festivals filled with music wasters… Respect for the music and your fellow festival goer vanished. Pushy people, arrogant security guards, new rules & restrictions. The culture had changed. Mainstream music festivals had become an overall unpleasant & draining experience.
Being disheartened, looking for something different I found the bush parties, discovering fire only weeks before. The culture in the bush was what was missing from what the mainstream festivals had become. Passionate people out in the forest enjoying each others company and music. Small respectful intimate parties free from politics, security, and mainstream trashiness. I had found a new home to enjoy; not only could I dance and listen to music, but I could play. And I mean play. I could wear anything, do anything, roll around in mud naked if I wanted to. I had playmates. I could explore the surrounds, and best of all I could play with fire uninterrupted all night. About 12hrs of non stop fire, 16hrs of spinning at one party at Conondale. I couldn’t move afterwards and someone else had to drive my car home. It was great! I got out to many parties and this is where my passion for fire really began.
Again having a great atmosphere of alternative passionate individuals it was only a matter of time before mainstream elements appeared. The small bush parties became mini festivals. Budgets for parties went from a few thousand dollars to 10’s and 100’s of thousands of dollars… Rules had to be imposed. Overnight a scene fashion had formed. How you presented yourself became important, “in” crowds banded. The pretentious “enlightened” hippy was remolded for modern day attitudes. Eventually mainstream security were employed, and not understanding the gentle nature of being out in the bush, imposed a strict policy driven approach over human understanding and compassion.
By this time I was quite immersed in the fire world. The first workshop based festival I attended was 2UberOz, run by Gabe in Brisbane. Amazing. I walked away from that weekend a changed person. My spinning style had completely changed in 2 days. I felt alive. I had grown as an individual and had learned an incredible amount still evident in my spinning today from the teaching talent there (Yuta, Brett Schmerl & Dan Gunthorpe). I had not experienced the level of connectedness, nor so many passionate individuals in one place before.
I continued to pursue this path. Starting with more circus festivals. I gave up a corporate life, business, house, cars & house full of stuff to head to circus school for two years. It was here that I went to Circulation in Dunedin. The main inspiration for Objectify.
Back in high school I would sit in class and map out festivals around the world. Create international circuits to travel. It was a dream; so was the thought of running a festival one day. I had no idea how, just one day.
Spin Festival in Melbourne, Circulation in NZ, Play festival in the UK, European Juggling Convention in Germany, Playpoi retreats in Bali & Switzerland, Festa Du Fuoca on Stromboli in Italy (Fire festival on an active volcano), Burning Man & Pacific Fire Gathering in the US, Pirates Retreat in Indonesia, Bornfire Singapore and many more. These are the most passionate, inspiring places I have ever been. Passionate people who want more out of life. A curiosity that drives a yearning to learn, grow and be connected.
Knowing along this journey that one day I would like to run a festival I have immersed myself into each aspect. Analysing everything. What works, what doesn’t work, talking to those involved, a vaccuum of festival knowledge. Being lucky enough to have ventured to festivals around the world, in time seeing many shifts in festival culture, what we have, and what has been missing from festival culture in Australia became evident. I had found what I wanted to create. A place to play.
Taking all the best pieces & ideas from around the world, mixed with what I love, thrown it into a pot, churned up, squished around, added with my unique flavour passionately made, then left to bake for 4 years and what came out of the oven was Objectify.
Housed in a beautiful location, centered around individual learning & growth I invited a small group of people to create something unique, something personal and intimate. A space to share what I have experienced with people around the world. A safe space, free from restriction, that honours our individual desire to explore. A space in the image of what I want to do at a festival… play.
Objectify :- adj. A concrete representation of an abstract idea…
Thank you for reading.
Brian Neller, Created 27th July 2013, rewritten 17th June 2014, edited again 10th July 2014.