Manchester International Festival has announced its full programme for this year’s event, its first under new director John McGrath. The biennial arts festival, which launched in 2007, is once again fielding an eclectic line up of work from visual artists, including an exhibition celebrating New Order and Joy Division through the bands’ collaborations with artists, designers and filmmakers.
The show, ‘True Faith’, at Manchester Art Gallery, will also include visual art created in response to both bands’ legacy and will feature Peter Saville’s record covers plus promotional videos and posters by John Baldessari and Lawrence Weiner. It is curated by Matthew Higgs and Jon Savage.
The artist Liam Gillick, meanwhile, is to collaborate with New Order for a series of five gigs at the old Granada Studios in the city.
Other artists producing new work for the festival include Yael Bartana, Phil Collins, Graham Eatough and Stephen Sutcliffe, Susan Hefuna, Jeremy Deller, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Samson Young.
Talking about this year’s festival, Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries and adviser to MIF, said: “The programme for MIF 2017 is a varied and exciting one with the artists and curators responding to the history and fabric of the city, taking inspiration from Manchester figures such as Friedrich Engels, New Order, Joy Division and Anthony Burgess.
“There are commissions which explore the role of migrants travelling to Europe, the lives of refugee communities in Manchester and what will happen when women run the world.”
Berlin-based artist Phil Collins will present Ceremony, a live film event which will honour Friedrich Engels, whose book, The Condition of the Working Class in England, was written during his time in Manchester from 1842-44.
Collins will bring a Soviet-era statue of Engels from Russia to Manchester, where it will be permanently installed in Tony Wilson Place, the public square outside Home arts centre that is named after the founder of Factory records. Footage from the statue’s journey will combine with live performance and music, including a soundtrack by Mica Levi and Demdike Stare, and a new song by Gruff Rhys.
This year’s festival will open on 29 June with a public event in Piccadilly Gardens, What is the city but the People? Developed from an idea by Jeremy Deller, it will feature members of the public selected via open auditions and is directed by Richard Gregory. Made in association with Islington Mill, it will include live music by Graham Massey.
A new collaboration between the artist Stephen Sutcliffe and theatre director Graham Eatough will take place at The Whitworth Gallery. ‘No End to Enderby’ will feature two film works inspired by Anthony Burgess’ Enderby novels and marks the centenary of the Manchester author’s birth.
Also at the Whitworth, Egyptian artist Susan Hefuna will present ‘ToGather’, an exhibition both inside the gallery and in Whitworth Park, that will include drawings, vitrines, personal objects and new digital work that will look at themes of migration and separation, gathering and togetherness. On 9 July there will also be a performance developed in collaboration with the dance choreographer Wayne McGregor.
Hong Kong artist Samson Young will present a five-part radio series at Granada Studios which will be performed in front of a live audience. One of Two Stories, or Both is inspired by mythic tales of 17th-century Chinese migrants travelling to Europe on foot, the work will explore how stories of migration are remembered and retold. Following on from this, Young will premiere a sound and visual installation at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy will show a series of films with an installation at The Lowry, Salford. The films will reflect on the partition of India, visiting residents of Delhi and Lahore 70 years on from this historic event which created the largest mass-migration in human history.
Israeli-born artist Yael Bartana, meanwhile, presents What if Women Ruled the World? This film and performance piece takes inspiration from the end of Stanley Kubrick’s film, Dr Strangelove, which foresaw a post-apocalyptic future in which dominant male leaders would repopulate the earth, with 10 women allocated to every man.
Directed by Vicky Featherstone and written by Abi Morgan, Bartana turns the idea on its head and for each of the performance’s three nights a group of 10 women and one man will be confronted by the urgent issues of our time.
Manchester International Festival runs from 29 June – 16 July 2017. mif.co.uk
1. Slater B. Bradley, Factory Icon, 2000/2017, C-print mounted to 4mm Alu-Dibond, acrylic glass, oak, Print: 124.5 x 77 cm, Frame: 149.2 x 92.3 cm
Edition 4/4, 2AP. Courtesy: Slater Bradley Studio, Berlin and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles / New York / Tokyo © Slater B. Bradley
2. Statue of Friedrich Engels, Ceremony by Phil Collins. Photo: Yevgen Nikiforov; Courtesy: Manchester International Festival
3. Samson Young – One of Two Stories, or Both. Photo: Donald Christie; Courtesy: Manchester International Festival