The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton in Bentonville, Arkansas and its contemporary art satellite the Momentary are betting big on a major art and music festival in September, with performances by the Flaming Lips, the War on Drugs, Beach House and others, as well as experiential art by Doug Aitken, Nick Cave, Pia Camil and more.
The four-day festival will kick off on 22 September with a performance by the War on Drugs at the Momentary and the launch of Aitken’s mirrored hot air balloon New Horizon (2019), which will travel from the contemporary art centre in Bentonville to the festival grounds in nearby Sugar Creek.
Dubbed Format (a portmanteau of “For Music+Art+Technology”), the festival aims to be something akin to California’s Coachella music festival plus a healthful dose of Nevada’s Burning Man, with major music acts sharing star billing with large-scale experiential and performance art. Already on tap for the inaugural edition are a barn transformed into a “disco madhouse” by Maurizio Cattelan’s branding agency Toiletpaper, a speakeasy by installation art duo Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman, daily incursions by dancers clad in Nick Cave’s vibrant Soundsuits and a labyrinth made from recycled plastic bottles by Madrid-based collective Luzinterruptus.
Crystal Bridges and the Momentary will serve as partners on the multipronged festival, which is being launched by C3 Presents and Triadic. The former is a producer of live events ranging from the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago to the White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, DC (which just made its return after a two-year hiatus). Triadic is led by artistic directors and co-curators Mafalda Millies and Roya Sachs and producer Elizabeth Edelman, whose previous endeavours include projects with the Performa performance art biennial and curatorial projects at Lever House in New York City.
“We saw an opportunity in the American festival landscape to create a festival that places visual and performing arts on the same plane as live music, creating a fluid and unified experience,” Millies says. “Rather than treating art as an afterthought or a sidebar, Format integrates art into all aspects of the festival experience, often coupled with innovative and thought-provoking technology. Our intention is to create a space of experimentation and collaboration for our artists, and to facilitate deeper resonance and a sense of discovery for our attendees.”
Tickets for the Format festival, which runs 22-25 September, go on sale 22 April.