Festival of Dangerous Ideas

Things to do, Fairs and festivals
Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2019 campaign image
Photograph: Supplied
Stephen Fry at FODI
Photograph: SuppliedStephen Fry
Cockatoo Island FODI  COMMERCIAL
Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

[Sponsored] One of the most controversial festivals on Sydney’s calendar returns with a more mature program of seriously credible speakers at Cockatoo Island

A lot’s changed for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in its ninth year, including switching up the location from Sydney Opera House to one of the most storied islands in our harbour. They’re changing the way you book tickets too, offering a journey of talks and workshops through a Day Island Pass ($79-$89) or a Weekend FODI Island Pass ($143-$159). But there’s one thing that remains constant, and that’s its hard working team of curators: Ann Mossop, Danielle Harvey and Simon Longstaff AO. They were the driving force behind the festival from its very first year (2009), and the guardians of its legacy as Sydney’s original disruptive festival.

So how are they upping the ante in 2018? To start with, they’re bringing out a line-up of speakers who’ll challenge the status quo, push the boundaries of conventional thought and speak to dark and dangerous ideas of truth and trust – from sex robots to tying yourself up in lies and rope.

English comedian, writer and activist Stephen Fry leads the program. Fry, who’ll be speaking at an off-island event at Sydney Town Hall on November 3, will be reminding us that it’s OK to disagree. After all, conversation is boring when we all get along.

Another Brit, conservative historian and political commentator Niall Ferguson, will no doubt go head-to-head with Age of Anger author Pankaj Mishra on extremism being a consequence of an increasingly unequal world.  

And local provocateur and author Germaine Greer will join Ayelet Waldman and Megan Phelps-Roper in a button-pushing panel discussion about outrage culture and whether or not these women have become too dangerous to be heard.

The ‘rock star’ of AI, Toby Walsh, will talk killer robots; Kill All Normies author Angela Nagle will tackle online culture wars; and sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein will help explain why we’re increasingly reaching for robotic pleasures to replace what’s getting us off IRL (legally or otherwise).

In addition to the talks, there’ll be experimental art performances, from shibari rope bondage to Betty Grumble’s Sex Clown Saves the World. And as we reach for more ‘how to’ books to help us discern what’s right and wrong, the Ethics Centre will be here to guide us through the everyday concerns of climate change and more in a series of on-island workshops.

It’s a smart, forward-thinking iteration of the long-running festival that’s not here to shock – but here to stretch your opinions and imagination. Tickets are on sale now.


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