Art brings semi-ruined Sydney fun park to life for one night

An art extravaganza exploring the “psychedelic and destructive” world of the carnival will bring one of Sydney’s abandoned fun parks back to life this weekend.

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Adventureland's original Pinocchio. Photo: Zanny Begg

An art extravaganza exploring the “psychedelic and destructive” world of the carnival will bring one of Sydney’s abandoned fun parks back to life this weekend.

The one-night only contemporary art event at Adventureland, one of Western Sydney’s last fun parks, is presented by UNSW Art & Design and the Campbelltown Arts Centre.

O’Neill’s Adventureland was the theme park of choice for families living in the western suburbs in the 1970s and 80s. It closed its doors almost 20 years ago but will open again to host Winter Wonderland.

A performance and installation-based art exhibition, Winter Wonderland, aims to redefine debates over culture, or the perceived lack of it, in Sydney’s west while challenging some of the political and cultural stereotypes associated with the area.

Co-curator and UNSW Art & Design academic, Zanny Begg says Winter Wonderland will remind visitors of the “darkness and adrenaline of fun parks as well as the sugar highs and excitement.”

“Through this exhibition we’re hoping to challenge the assumption that the suburbs are ‘mere recipients of a culture’ as opposed to creators of it, by demonstrating the unique and creative worlds of the fun park,” says Begg. “The fun parks of Western Sydney have employed and inspired generations of artists and performers, ensuring that the aesthetic of carnival remains a touchstone for a broad range of Sydney artists.”

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A performer rehearses at western Sydney's old Adventureland fun park. Photo: Heath Franco

Sydney-based artist and academic Safdar Ahmed will debut Sydney’s first Muslim Death Metal Band with an accompanying series of Muslim Zombie Posters. The band’s performance aims to parody the darker fears surrounding the threat of terrorism associated with Muslim communities living in the suburbs.

Artist Rosie Deacon will occupy Adventureland’s disused dodgem car ride performing a low-fi version of 50 Cent Candy Shop with a team of dancers. The colorful and loud installation will explore the power of music in memories of place.

MEAT FIRE FUN HOUSE will see Western Sydney new media artist Heath Franco perform live on top the ‘Circus Fun House’ fairground ride. The work is influenced by the artist’s childhood experiences of fairgrounds and his memories of  the cheap horror masks and the thrill of the ghost train.

As part of Winter Wonderland, UNSW Art & Design Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership will present Last Adventure, a parallel exhibition exploring memories of fun parks in Western Sydney through the work of six emerging artists; Timothy Dwyer, Zachariah Fenn, Hana Hoogedeure, Kata Komlos, Jack Mannix and Giselle Stanborough.

Begg says curating Last Adventure gave the students real-world experience of staging an exhibition in a “very unusual and challenging location.”

Emerging curator and Art & Design student Natalie Wadwell said being given the opportunity to bring the site to life in winter was an exciting prospect.

‘‘After our first site visit, our class discussed the evocative nature of the site. It is a significant space when you consider the development of western Sydney and the need for recreational locations.’’

What: Winter Wonderland

When: Saturday 6 June, 6pm–9pm (Click here for schedule of events)

Tickets are at capacity but a limited number are available for media on request.

Where: O’Neill’s Adventureland, 1744 Camden Valley Way, Edmondson Park NSW 2174