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Artists Shine at Format Festival

By David Wayne Reed

Photo of inflatable balloons by Atelier Susu. at Format Festival 2023. Photo by David Wayne Reed.

Format Festival, a three day festival featuring an eclectic music lineup, artist-built venues and interactive art experiences, returned after its inaugural launch in 2022 with even more light and dazzle.  From the reflective iridescence of the iconic inflatables by Atelier Sisu to the chatoyant gleams of disco balls and bedazzled festival garb, the second iteration of this music, art, and technology festival kept pace with it’s already high bar and exceeded expectations at its new venue at The Momentary in Bentonville, Arkansas. 

Headliners LCD Soundsystem spinning disco balls and hits.

This showcase hub and multi-stage platform for artists and creative intersections was all on full-display during the festival weekend. Format Festival connects national acts and artists with local talent —for example, Guerilla Girls, Amy Khoshbin, LCD Soundsystem, Jamie XX, Sudan Archives, and so many more!—including Mid-America Arts Alliance’s Artists 360 and Catalyze fellows as well. 

Danielle Hatch with company for performance installation of her film All The Soarings Of My Mind Begin in My Blood with live musical scoring by Amos Cochran.

Danielle Hatch (Artists 360 Fellow, 2019, Bentonville, Arkansas) captivated the festival audience with a beautiful multimedia performance installation, in collaboration with Amos Cochran (Artists 360 Fellow, 2018 and 2021, Van Buren, Arkansas). Her Artists 360 grant supported her film All The Soarings Of My Mind Begin in My Blood. In addition, her signature architectural ruffles colorfully bedecked each of the bar stations around the festival grounds.  

Yuni Wa, the super-streamed Music Producer from Little Rock (and Catalyze grant recipient ’23) set the groove with an amazing DJ set showcasing experimental, electronic, and hip hop with signature gymnastic turntablism. 

Day three of the festival included a performance by Artists 360 Fellow 2021 Conor Brogan and his band Modeling. This band of actual brothers played Sunday afternoon to a full house, transporting the audience on a dark wave of kaleidoscopic sound and light.  

You Belong Here by Tavares Strachan on the east-facing wall of The Momentary.

Perhaps it was even too electric, day two of the three-day festival was called early due to fast-moving lighting storms (during a headliner set by Alanis Morissette). “It’s like ra-ay-ayn . . .”

Like a disco ball illuminating the talents of Arkansas and the heartland, Format Festival is a burgeoning creative hub spinning together luminary talents of all disciplines and stripes in the name of art, music, and technology.

Spotted: Artists 360 Fellows (Cynthia Post Hunt ‘18, Briseida Ochoa ’22, John Rankine ’18, Blake Worthey ’21, ’22, BAANG ’20 (in a surprise feature with Pura Coco!), and Interchange Fellow Francheska Alcantara ’21.