Water buffalo costume, rubber / stretch fabric / imitation fur, Paul Hogan float, Parade of Icons, Closing Ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, designed by John King, made at the Ceremonies Workshop, Sydney 2000
The 1986 film, 'Crocodile Dundee', was the inspiration for this water buffalo costume that appeared in the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. Set in the Northern Territory, the film included scenes with many animals from Australia's far north and captivated worldwide audiences with its humour and outback scenery. Along with costumes of prawns, crocodiles and frill neck lizards, the water buffalo followed behind a float that carried the star of the film, Paul Hogan - this was part of a larger procession of Australian celebrities, called the 'Parade of Icons'. In an expression of Australian self-mockery, the animals were equipped with scooters, bikes, roller blades and unicycles, referring to the 'kangaroos on bikes' controversy that erupted at the Closing Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Designed by John King, the water buffalo costume was made from cast rubber, imitation fur and latex paint, and was assembled in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh. The complete outfit includes a head, body, unitard, gloves, shoe covers (representing hooves) and an aluminium scooter.
The Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday, 1 October, at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained: 'The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard - fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.' According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7's 'Olympic Sunrise'), the Opening Ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the Closing Ceremony was Sydney's show.
As the ceremony unfolded the proliferation of suburban images, such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs, was treated with self-deprecating irony rather than cliché. The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' - a gala of Australian celebrities - reflected the influence of the late Peter Tully and his experience as artistic director of the Sydney Mardi Gras. The 'pit chicks', for example, donned silver hot pants and stiletto shoes and carried giant eyelashes and mascara for the Priscilla Bus - a prop that celebrated the Australian film, 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', as well as local gay culture.
After Vanessa Amorosi's performance of 'Absolutely Everybody', the arena was transformed into a huge dance-floor as 960 ballroom dancing couples in fluorescent costumes danced the samba, tango and jive to the beat of John Paul Young. Accompanying the dancers, were 208 giant dancing feet and the incongruous assembly of oversized kewpie dolls.
The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off - fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and, for an international audience, decidedly weird.
John King designed the water buffalo costume in 2000 as part of a broader suite that represented various animals from the Northern Territory. This theme was inspired by the 1986 film, 'Crocodile Dundee'. The complete outfit consists of a head, body, unitard, gloves, shoe covers (representing hooves) and an aluminium scooter.
Tamara Ealey and Jill Paskins made the water buffalo costume in 2000 at the Ceremonies Workshop at Eveleigh. Cast in expandable foam rubber, the head and horns were glued together and then painted with a latex-based paint. The head was covered with imitation fur which was trimmed to reveal the buffalo face. Made from urethane foam rubber, the gloves and shoe covers were finished in a stretch fabric and a latex-based paint.
This water buffalo costume was used in the Parade of Icons in the Closing Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games. Along with costumes of prawns, crocodiles and frill neck lizards, it appeared behind a float carrying Australian comedian and actor, Paul Hogan. The Closing Ceremony took place on 1 October 2000 at Stadium Australia, Sydney Olympic Park.
Made for and owned by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after the Games.