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Fasten Your Seatbelts…

Drive Dead Slow: Dodgems of your Mind - one of the highlights of MERGE Bankside festival, London, this year, May 12-Sun June 4.


It’s definitely going to be a bumpy night down at this year’s MERGE Bankside Festival in London. Headlining is the ultimate dodgem experience, Drive Dead Slow – the world’s first artist-designed bumper car arena. A collective of visual, sound and light artists have transformed a disused fire station into a fairground, taking you on an unexpected psychological journey.

Drive Dead Slow: Dodgems of Your Mind is set to be one of the most fun, quirky and unmissable interactive art installations you’ll probably see this year! It runs for the entirety of MERGE Bankside, the annual arts festival that brings imaginative events and theatre to SE1.

After Plutchik’s wheel of emotions determines your emotional state based on your mood, you are matched to a bumper car. No two rides will be the same, as each customised 1960s Supercar is designed to interact with you differently, each with its own personality. Career around the fire station and experience the pandemonium and excitement first-hand, as light and sound installations mirror the action.

There’ll be special music nights every Friday throughout the festival; ride a car, listen to live music, enjoy a drink and watch as the chaos ensues! The group of Think Tank artists, including Marcus LyallTim Sheward, Sam BompasTony PlettsDave Cranmer, Luke Morgan, Ed Baxter and Jimmy Cauty, have worked together on this one-of-a-kind installation in homage to the centenary of ‘The Whirl of the World’, London’s first experience of the dodgem where the motion was created by tilting floor panels. The ride was said to “cause a pleasant sensation”…

Other highlights include Patrick Tresset’s Machine Studies (Platform Southwark, 1 Joan Street, SE1 8BS, May 24- June 4).  Observe a classroom of 20 robot pupils taking different lessons, each displaying traits affecting their behaviour; shyness, nerdiness, boredom, and distracted by the activity of the public in the room. In another room have your portrait drawn by watchful robots; the roles reverse and they now have their gaze on you.

They’ll be a series of 15-minute Caravan Shorts in a caravan for an audience of 9 at a time (May 18-June 3) and pop-up operative performances of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Opera Holland Park in unexpected places on Monday May 15, including a Tea Party at Market Hall, Borough Market from 4pm.

On May 21 Tate Modern will be screening a triple bill of Charlie Chaplin films in the gallery’s Starr Cinema in celebration of his south London roots.

And Confessions is an intimate display of anonymous secrets by Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang.  Stop by Prices Street outside Hilton London Bankside, enter a booth and write down whatever thoughts you want to share on a wooden plaque.

From acoustic buskers at Borough Market to Skyline Sessions at the elegant rooftop bar at Mondrian and Merge River Lates with MBNA Thames Clippers, check out the festival’s live music programme here.

MERGE Bankside is arts, music and performance festival curated by Illuminate Productions, in collaboration with Better Bankside, and supported by Tate Modern.

I’ve been a huge fan of Illuminate Productions since they first stepped onto the London art scene in 2004 bringing together experimental artists, performers, art organisations and collectives in unusual venues, including many of London’s lost buildings before their regeneration. Highly recommended.

Drive Dead Slow: Dodgems of Your Mind – Southwark Fire Brigade, Southwark Bridge Road (Entrance on Sawyer Street), SE1 0EG, Wed-Sun from Fri May 12-Sun June 4,  12pm-7pm.

Here’s the full programme:


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