Thursday, 20 July 2017

Manchester International Festival - Day 2

We began our day of Manchester International Festival exhibitions at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) where there was an impressive audio-visual installation by Samson Young.

'One of Two Stories, or Both (Field Bagatelles) is a newly commissioned radio series and gallery installation inspired by tales of Chinese migrants. Sound artist and composer Samson Young took visitors and listeners on a journey inspired by the myths and legendary tales of 17th-century Chinese travellers making their way to Europe on foot.'

'The work began with a five part radio series performed by a cast of actors, artists and musicians. Following the radio series, the gallery presents a multi-layered installation incorporating material from the radio performances to provide another intriguing perspective to these stories, and investigate how journeys are remembered and retold.' 

A curtain rail with translucent curtains spans the perimeter of the gallery, and these are operated manually, periodically moving around the space. As the blinds opened and closed automatically, the changing light conditions reminded me of the daily cycle of light conditions and the passage of time.

In the back gallery space was a group exhibition, From Ocean to Horizon, a group exhibition featuring artists presenting unique perspectives on living and working in present-day Hong Kong.

I then ventured to two galleries that I had never visited before: Paper Gallery and PS Mirabel, both located on Mirabel Street close to Victoria train station.

'PAPER is an artist-led, commercial gallery based in Manchester and represents a range of emerging and mid-career artists whose practice is based around the medium of paper. This ranges from drawing, painting, and printmaking to artist's books, video, and performance. The gallery opened in August 2012 and has a regular programme of exhibitions, presenting the work of gallery artists as well as providing a platform for outside curatorial projects. In 2013 PAPER instigated an Artist-in-Residence programme, Exploring PAPER, and in 2014 a mentoring scheme for artists based in the North-West of England, funded by Arts Council England.'

The current exhibition, The Surface of Things, is produced in collaboration with LA-based Durden & Ray and was part of the Manifest festival. It is an exhibition exploring contemporary Abstract painting.

Featured artists: Lisa Denyer / Frances Disley / EC / Brendan Fletcher / Roni Feldman / Jenny Hager / Sharon Hall / Vincent Hawkins / David Leapman / Mali Morris / Max Presneill

Next door to Paper Gallery, PS Mirabel is another artist run project and exhibition space. Small world is the gallery's open call exhibition in which all the works need to be no larger than 20x20x20cm.

My next destination was Castlefield Gallery. The gallery has a strong commitment to developing emerging contemporary artists and practice. 'Its ambitious curated exhibitions programme responds to national and international trends, promoting artists at key stages of their careers. Central to CG’s activities is an artist development programme that has launched major commission-winning artists.

Castlefield Gallery’s vision is for the North to be a place where artists can live and produce work, while presenting their work in national and international contexts. Its mission is to nurture talent, explore cultural trends and deepen the audience’s relationship to contemporary art.

The current exhibition presents a new body of work by Manchester-based painter Lindsey Bull, alongside a new mixed media installation and performance by London-based collective Plastique Fantastique.'

We then met a couple of Manchester based artists, Chris and Kelvin who took us to Title Date Duration. 

This space has been created to focus on the relationship between the art work and the viewer. The artist's name does not appear until the viewer has seen the exhibition, therefore avoiding the reading of the work being determined or influenced by the artist's reputation or image. I think this is a really genuine way to help ensure that the discussion around the work focuses on the work. 'It allows the art work presented to only be concerned with the act of viewing, and the will of the individual to view it. The programme intends to provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion.'

The group then called at HOME where the exhibition, La Movida was presented in the main gallery space.

“It’s difficult to speak of La Movida and explain it to those who didn’t live those years. We weren’t a generation; we weren’t an artistic movement; we weren’t a group with a concrete ideology. We were simply a bunch of people that coincided in one of the most explosive moments in the country.” – Pedro Almodóvar

'This pioneering contemporary visual art group exhibition takes the artistic and socio-cultural movement La Movida (literally “the movement”) of post-Franco Spain as its thematic heart. Suddenly the forbidden arenas of politics and sexuality are open season for public debate and creative communities. Excess, clubbing, drugs, artistic freedom, gay rights, pornography and more all collided in an outpouring of freedom from suppression and a desire for making up on lost time in the early 80s in Madrid.'

Upstairs, Eden Kötting & Anonymous Bosch presented work.

The paintings and collages in this exhibition were inspired by the Edith Walks project which itself was inspired by the life of Edith Swan Neck. Eden Kötting was born in 1988 with Joubert Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. She grew up in London and developed a keen interest in drawing and painting. In 1996 she appeared in her father’s experimental feature film Gallivant along with her great grandmother Gladys.

Anonymous Bosch produces work that 'fulfills the important post-medieval role of witness/chronicler to Andrew Kötting’s troubadour band on their long march in the spectral footsteps of King Harold, from one grave in Waltham Abbey via another in Battle to a sculpture at St Leonards-on-Sea (during production of Kötting’s latest film-essay, Edith Walks).'

My final gallery for the day was the Whitworth Gallery, where I literally had a whistlestop tour of the current exhibitions including No End to Enderby by Graham Eatough and Stephen Sutcliffe, Cornelia Parker: Verso and John Akomfrah's film Vertigo Sea.

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