MIF2021: Postcards from Now

Art at Manchester International Festival 2021

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

Art has always been at the beating heart of Manchester International Festival and this year is no different. The ambitious 2021 programme includes a number of major exhibitions and city interventions, as well as a new online short film strand, that we can’t wait to check out. Here are our highlights.

Marking its 10-year anniversary, the Turner Prize-nominated research agency Forensic Architecture will present Cloud Studies at the Whitworth, which sets out to expose how states and corporations weaponise the air we breathe in order to suppress civilian protest, maintain and defend violent border regimes, and empower extractive industry. Forensic Architecture has stollen the attention of the public, art world and legal sector in recent years with its endlessly in-depth, ground-breaking investigations into human rights violations and this promises to be an eye-opening show.

The Manchester Jewish Museum will celebrate its long-awaited reopening following two years of painstaking renovation work with a brand-new commission by Turner Prize-winning artist Laure Prouvost. Installed in the museum’s breath-taking Grade II listed synagogue, The long waited, weighted gathering responds to the building’s rich history and the women who once used to occupy its raised Ladies’ Gallery.

Curated by Manchester-legend Lemn Sissay and internationally renowned uber-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, Poet Slash Artist does what it says on the tin. Unfolding across the streets of Manchester and at HOME, the exhibition is a celebration of poets who work with visual art and visual artists who work with poetry, including Tracey Emin, Inua Ellams, Lubaina Himid, Precious Okoyomon and Adonis. Be sure to check out an associated live event curated by DJ Cerys Matthews and film season by HOME’s Rachel Hayward and Jason Wood, too.

Also straying into the world of words, I Love You Too by South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere takes the form of a new book written by 11 Manchester-based writers inspired by love stories shared by over 100 people from across the city, presented alongside an installation at Central Library. Meanwhile, contrary to its title, Postcards from Now moves into the realm of film with an online series of short moving-image works created in response to the pandemic by artists from a broad range of disciplines.

Lastly, we recommend you head along to a new pop-up anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist shop and associated exhibition by leading Pakistani artist Rashid Rana that explores his concept of ‘EART’ – a term he invented to describe and encourage moments of self-expression and creative practice that include but are not limited to the arts. Something we can definitely get behind.

Read on for more details.