Rochester and Canterbury
Friday, October 25, 2019
Sunday, November 17, 2019
South East England

Artist-led international Moving Image and Contemporary Art Festival

25 Oct – 3 Nov   Rochester
8 Nov – 17 Nov  Canterbury

Photo: 51zero/festival 2017 Launch Night, Rochester Cathedral Crypt. © Keith Greenfield

We are proud to announce the next edition of 51zero Festival, opening on the 25th October in Kent, England. Named after the geographical coordinates of Medway, Kent, 51zero Festival takes over historical and cultural spaces in both Rochester and Canterbury, presenting a rich programme of exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops over three weeks. Acting as a meeting point for artists, thinkers, musicians and filmmakers, local and international, 51zero Festival presents artistic production focusing on contemporary art and cinema and promotes the cultural and creative capacity of the region.

This year, the festival extends across Rochester Cathedral, Restoration House, the Guildhall and Huguenot museums and Rochester High Street. In Canterbury, it will populate the University for the Creative Arts campus including the Herbert Read Gallery. The festival will launch at Rochester Cathedral’s crypt on Friday the 25th October, with an evening of screenings accompanied by live music featuring some of the leading musicians in the UK, curated by Margherita Gramegna, alongside Peter Fillingham’s The Rainbow Buns, 2016.

For its 4th edition, the festival collaborates with a wide range of emerging and established artists, practitioners and musicians from the area and beyond, invited or engaged via Open Call. The Rochester area will see work by artist Dan Rees, who will be presenting Chalk, 2018, and Matthew Darbyshire’s Deposition Model No.1 : Farnese Hercules, 2016, situated in the unique surroundings of the Italian Garden at Restoration House, created by owners Robert Tucker and Jonathan Wilmot, who will showcase a newly constructed classical temple in dialogue with Matthew’s sculpture.

Photo: Rasheed Araeen, Chakras 1969-70

David Goldenberg will present a new work “Granulation”, an installation and online project situated in the undercroft area of the Guildhall Museum, which invites participation World-Wide, to remap the art world or ‘body of art’ and to break it down into its ‘molecular parts’. Rochester audiences will be invited to reassemble these building blocks into a new language of art.

Rasheed Araeen, a pioneer of minimalist sculpture in Britain, will present Chakras, 1969-70, 16 painted wooden discs alongside documentation by Peter Fillingham of the performance Disco Sailing presented recently at the Garage Museum in Moscow, and a text/photo collage by its curator Valentin Diaconov. A reconstruction of Rasheed’s Chakras performance will take place at San Pier, on the river Medway, with the artist.
Dutch artist Matthijs de Bruijne, whose work touches upon socio-political issues and critical collective consciousness, will be shown at the Guildhall Museum. British filmmaker Jill Daniels will present her films at the Huguenot Museum, exploring memory and place through fictional enactment and documentary realism.
In Canterbury, works by John Peter Askew create arrangements of ‘filmic’ images of Russian life, and Lique Schoot’s online project Who Am I Tomorrow presents a series of self-portraits. Film programmes at University for the Creative Arts will showcase entries from a themed Open Call titled Wishful Thinking, curated by Jill Daniels, Matthias Kispert and Inga Burrows, as well as work from a second open call including students from University of Kent.

Social Morphologies Research Unit present their work Morphologies of Invisible Agents, making visible the forces behind political movements and social change. Bird Saunders, Tanja Jurican, Alena Pratasevich [online project] and the Iranian-British artist Maria Kheirkhah will also present their works in the Canterbury campus with Morag Keil and Georgie Nettel’s work The Fascism of Everyday Life, while the Singaporean English artist Steven Wong will introduce us to his new platform for ideas MAPP and will contribute to the Granulation project.

Photo: 51zero/festival 2014 Screening and live performance, Guildhall Museum. © Keith Greenfield

Through placing artwork in public settings and outdoor spaces across the cities, the festival aims to take the art to where the people are, encouraging conversations and active involvement of local and visiting public as well as engaging audiences with the character and the heritage of the area.

Workshops led by artist Hannah Whittaker, invite local people and families to engage with the festival’s artworks and Ioana Pioaru’s drawing workshops embed participants within the unique landscape and history of Medway. In the lead up to the festival, as part of the outreach programme, 51zero presents the premiere screening of experimental films by Nadia Perrotta on 26th September, Peter Blake Gallery, Dartford Library.

51zero Festival is an Arts Council funded project that aims to introduce highly resolved, relevant and important artworks and films to the Kent area, particularly in Rochester, where 51zero Festival activities are unique in filling a gap in Medway’s art provision. The festival offers opportunities for regional artists and graduates to exhibit with established, international artists. 51zero Festival has a successful track record of creating platforms for exposure and opportunities for emerging talent, engaging young artists in activities meaningful for their professional development. Working from within the region of Kent as the project’s base, 51zero Festival presents programmes of exhibitions, events, projects and touring activities through partnership and co-production with cultural organisations in the UK and overseas.

Photo: 51zero/festival 2017 Exhibition, Guildhall Museum. © Keith Greenfield

Among the notions the festival programme questions is whether art today can actually be an effective vehicle for fresh thinking. Looking at the systems that make up the way art is shown, exhibited and talked about, the artists that the festival presents examine whether these systems promote a return to the same ways of doing things, held back by conventional understandings of what is expected of artists by the political and economic context they work in.

In the words of Margherita Gramegna, Director and co-curator of the festival: “51zero Festival contributes to the artistic landscape of Medway and Kent fostering a growing interest in artists’ moving image and contemporary art, engaging audiences and cultivating emerging talent, to build cultural value and a legacy for the area. This year’s project is ambitious and forward-looking in view of Medway’s aspiration to be the next UK City of Culture.”

Co-curator David Goldenberg adds: “The festival comprises invited artists, filmmakers, open call, student work, public activities, workshops and talks, where all activities are of equal importance and act as a catalyst for thinking. We want to showcase qualities inherent to 51zero Festival that are relevant to the location and people, rather than importing and adopting pre-existing models. The festival also attempts to look at what a 21st-century art practice is and how reality is seen and filtered through art.’’

Photo: 51zero/festival 2017 Online discussion, Dockyard Church, University of Kent. © Keith Greenfield

51zero Festival’s long-standing partner is the University of Kent. Peter Hatton, Programme Director of MA Event and Experience Design, comments: “The School of Music and Fine Art at the University of Kent considers 51zero Festival to be an important regional and international organisation that we are fortunate to have had a long and productive association with. Staff and students have been involved in their touring programmes and previous festivals editions since 2012. Going forward, with the development of new programmes and departments here at Medway in the Historic Dockyard, we see the relationship with 51zero Festival continuing and strengthening”.

The complete programme with all specific works and list of participating artists to follow.

Festival in Rochester
Friday 25th October – Sunday 3rd November 2019
Launch – Opening Night
Friday 25th October 2019, Rochester Cathedral Crypt, 7-9pm

Festival in Canterbury 
Friday 8th November – Sunday 17th November 2019
Launch – Opening Night
Friday 8th November 2019, Herbert Read Gallery,
University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury, 7-9 pm