Picaresque (Adelaide Festival)

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Ben Brooker Thursday, 14 March 2019
Published in ABR Arts

For the uninitiated, a maquette is an architectural miniature of a monument or building. Small, made from cardboard or wood, and often able to be flat-packed, travellers have long collected them as souvenirs of adventures to faraway places. Robyn Archer, doyenne of Australian cabaret, has amassed more than most during her forty or so years of global touring (almost always for work rather than pleasure). Around two hundred of them – diligently assembled by a small army of volunteers, and ranging in size from the matchbox-like to a couple of feet tall – feature in the appositely named Picaresque, an episodic travelogue with the lovably roguish Archer at its Don Quixote. 

To enter the space, the audience must pass through the first part of the installation, designed by Wendy Todd. Comprising two walls covered in travel ephemera Archer never threw away – luggage tags, hotel slippers, do-not-disturb signs, laundry bags, boarding passes, eye masks, and more – it’s a vivid, if almost overwhelming, illustration of a life lived in transience.

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Published in ABR Arts
Ben Brooker

Ben Brooker

Ben Brooker is a writer, editor, critic, playwright, essayist, and bookseller. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Flinders University and an Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing from Adelaide College of the Arts. His work has been featured by Overland, New Matilda, New Internationalist, Australian Book Review, RealTime, The Lifted Brow, Witness, and Daily Review.

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