The Urban Weekender.

Creative Tourist

From interactive artworks to late nights at the gallery, from the future of urban music to the hotly anticipated novel from America’s best known writer, from performance art to the underground UK arts scene: this is your guide to the long weekend in Manchester


The weekend starts here, with a programme of performance art, after-hours electronica and the future sounds of urban music. Leave the working week behind and get into the city for the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival, an event described by The Guardian as ‘a boldly freewheeling art and film festival’. AND launches with a series of late night events across the city – our pick is Lawrence Malstaf’s claustrophobic performance, Shrink (5pm-6.30pm, free). Inside the exuberant Neo-Classical setting of the Freemason’s Hall, the artist is wrapped between two large transparent plastic sheets. As the performance begins, a device gradually sucks air out from between the sheets – leaving Malstaf inside, vacuum-packed and suspended in mid-air. Galleries throughout Manchester will be open on Friday night to celebrate AND – we recommend you head to Manchester Art Gallery for an after-hours visit to Recorders (6.30pm-9pm, free), the new solo show by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, one of the world’s most exciting electronic artists. Here, the Gallery hosts an evening of live electronica by Marconi Union alongside what’s being billed as ‘interactive activity’ from Lewis Sykes in its glass-roofed atrium. Friday also sees the launch of Un-convention, one of the UK’s most eclectic independent music industry events that contains much for those who just love (rather than work in) new music (1-3 Oct). Employing such unconventional spaces as a barge, Salford Lads’ Club and a church, and featuring the likes of Bill Drummond, Jarvis Cocker, Jon McClure, Brian Travers and Kevin Cummins – all doing ‘interesting things in the most unexplored places in the city’ – Un-convention is a hot ticket. Oh yes, and there’s a traveling circus, music photography projected onto buildings, Colombian Hip Hop, Jah Wobble, the BBC Philharmonic and a brass band to boot. All of this can be yours from as little as £24. Finally, end your evening at Contact’s Future Sounds of the UK (10pm-late, £8/£5), a three-way sound clash between some of the UK’s most influential artists from across a range of genres (Drum & Bass, Grime, Garage and Dubstep). Featuring performances from B2B DRS, Zed Bias, Fallacy and the Murkage Cartel, and hosted by Broke N £nglish. Click here for full event listings and booking information


After a late night we thought we’d ease you into the day with a morning of leisurely cultural activity, beginning with The Land Between Us at The Whitworth Art Gallery (until 23 Jan, free). This show opens with a dramatic work by Olafur Eliasson (best known for his sun-like installation at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall) – a real forest, recreated inside the gallery. Elsewhere, a narrow walkway is stacked high with watercolours by J.M.W. Turner, while other historic works are supplemented by their contemporary counterparts – by the likes of Black Audio Film Collective and Rachel Whiteread. This is no standard landscape show, then, but a sensory, imaginative exhibition that does what the Whitworth does best: treads the fine line between the historic and the contemporary. If the Whitworth whets your appetite for visual art, book onto the Contemporary Cartography Tours that start from here on Saturday. Contemporary Cartography //01 is a pocket map that provides an overview of what makes up the creative ecology of the city (via its contemporary galleries and underground art spaces) and, to celebrate its launch, the artists’ collective Contents May Vary leads a special two-wheeled tour, cycling across Manchester to International 3, Bureau, Kraak Gallery, Rogue Studios and Castlefield Gallery (11am-2pm, free, start at the Whitworth). Founder of Kraak Gallery Louise Woodcock, meanwhile, leads a separate walking tour north of the River Irwell that explores the studio spaces, workshops and venues of Salford, from Manchester Modernist Society to Studio One69a (3pm-6pm, free, meet at People’s History Museum). While you’re at Castlefield Gallery, stop off to see Feral Trade Café, an artistic import-export business where artist Kate Rich trades food and drink sourced through her own social network (and also serves up ‘ferally’ traded drinks and snacks alongside delivery notes collected by the artist, until 10 Oct, free). Close by you’ll also find greenroom, which over the weekend hosts emergency, its annual and extraordinary micro-festival of experimental theatre and live art: 40-plus performances of the bizarre and the beautiful that fill every nook and cranny, and then burst out and spill over onto the street – and all for free (12pm-1pm, also at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation 2pm-8pm). Click here for full event listings and booking information



Evening brings us back to AND, this time to an exhibition at Cornerhouse. Just as it was once mandatory to undertake bible study in Britain, Marxism was once a part of the curriculum in Soviet Russia, Yugoslavia and East Germany. In a show that fuses past and present, artist Phil Collins finds out what happened to the Marxist teachers of the former Eastern Bloc – and links Manchester’s socialist past to its educational present. (History buffs will know that Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto here in Chetham’s Library, while the city was also the birthplace of Chartism, universal suffrage and the Trade Union movement.) Phil Collin’s marxism today, then, is nothing if not timely: as the UK still struggles with the redistribution of wealth, Collins sets out to see how far our political geography has shifted (until 28 Nov, free). The galleries at Cornerhouse are open until 8pm, giving you enough time to eat (in its café-bar), see the show and then make your way to Krysko & Kashiwagi. Part performance art and part club night, this one-off gig takes place in the redbrick setting of the Whitworth Art Gallery (7pm-9pm, free). In it, DJ Matthew Krysko (The Warehouse Project/Tribal Gathering) and performance artist Naomi Kashiwagi use the gallery as the backdrop for a collaborative work that combines electronic music with wind-up gramophones, and 70 year-old shellac records with the latest in digital DJ technology. Heading back down Oxford Road you’ll find an event on at Contact (8pm-9.45pm, £5). In Mixed Movement: The Digital Duets, four dancers in Manchester jam in real time across digital space with four dancers in New York – celebrating the diversity of black dance from Afro-Caribbean, Jazz and House to Hip Hop. Then it’s on to The Dancehouse for the UK debut of Midnight Mass by drag queen Peaches Christ (9pm-1am, £15/£12.50). Featuring her new film All About Evil, Midnight Mass is a late night screening that wallows in sex, blood and scatological references – it’s all about bad cinema, bad behaviour and (eek) audience participation. Includes an outrageous shorts programme that features Season of the Troll and Jizzmopper: A Love Story. Still going? Check out Dance Africa & Rememba Fela, a night dedicated to the legend of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and today’s Afro-influenced dance music (featuring Afro-beat specialist Rich Medina, Irfan Rainy and The Afronaught, 10pm-4am, £10/£7). Click here for full event listings and booking information


Wake up, get up and have breakfast in the Northern Quarter – we rate Teacup on Thomas Street. Open from 10am and with a mean Eggs Florentine, it’s a good place to sit and take stock before heading to Manchester Digital Laboratory (Madlab) nearby for a one-off performance from FutureEverything and Manchester Camerata. Here, the Camerata’s principal cellist Hannah Roberts and a sound artist play together live in a unique digital-meets-classical collaboration (12.3opm-1.30pm, free). After that, take the tram out to Salford Quays for your final afternoon. Here, glory in the sight of Imperial War Museum North; a shimmering aluminum building perched on the edge of the Manchester Ship Canal (the Rough Guide reckons it’s one of England’s top 10 buildings). It’s at Salford Quays you’ll also find The Lowry, an award-winning arts centre that hosts an ‘in conversation’ event with Word Magazine’s Mark Ellen and photographer Philip Townsend on Sunday afternoon (2pm-3.30pm, £5). Townsend’s iconic photographs, on display in The Lowry’s galleries, embody the spirit of the 60s – capturing on film some of the biggest names of the era, everyone from Twiggy to the Rolling Stones. Later, stroll around the Quays (spot Media City, the digital hub that’s the new Northern home of the BBC) before walking back across water to the Museum in time for Neil Yates: Tarnished Silver – Sketches of a Northern Town (4pm-4.30pm, free). Resonant of the northern brass tradition, but owing much to the Gil Evans-Miles Davis collaborations of the early 60s, Tarnished Silver paints a lucid impression of the north, from echoes of old industry to the reincarnation of former mills into apartments. Scored for a trumpet, tenor horn, baritone horn, trombone, tuba and two flugelhorns, players will be scattered throughout the main exhibition space, creating a kind of surround-sound performance quite unlike anything you’ve heard before (or at least since organiser Manchester Jazz Festival’s last lot of events). The final act of the Weekender promises to be one of the best: ‘Close Up’ featuring Jonathan Franzen at The Whitworth Art Gallery (7pm-9pm, £8). Here, the celebrated American author reads from his latest novel, Freedom. An evening that’s part of DJ/writer Dave Haslam’s regular (and regularly sold out) ‘in conversation’ events, this is an exceptional opportunity to get up close to the award-winning author of The Corrections, as well as find out more about Franzen’s hotly-anticipated new novel. The reading is followed by a Q&A – your chance to put your questions to one of America’s best-known novelists.

Click here for full event listings and booking information, download the the Urban Weekender mini-guide or return to the Weekender home page

Video: Lawrence Malstaf performs Shrink at Ars Electronica 2009, courtesy Forisma; The All About Evil teaser, courtesy the artist. Images (top to bottom): Shrink, Lawrence Malstaf, courtesy The AND Festival; Bill Drummond, courtesy Un-convention 2010; Demolished (1996), copyright Rachel Whiteread, courtesy The Whitworth Art Gallery; Pulse Room, 2007, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Naomi Kashiwagi; Imperial War Museum North; Marcus Intalex, courtesy Contact (part of The Black Sounds Series).

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