Manchester International Festival 2019 is nearly upon us and it’s fair to say that we’re more than a little excited by the calibre of this year’s programme, which may indeed prove to be the festival’s strongest yet.
Top of our list of highlights is undoubtedly David Lynch’s complete takeover of HOME, curated by Sarah Perks and Omar Kholeif with Mary Anne Hobbs & Jason Wood. The master of American surrealist cinema and all-round visionary pioneer will present the first major UK exhibition of his paintings, sculpture and drawings, coupled with a series of one-off live shows by Lynch-inspired musicians, and an associated film programme spanning the duration of MIF2019.
Alongside this, the equally iconic queen of contemporary art Yoko Ono will launch the festival with a sort of mass ‘happening’, involving 8,000 members of the public who will form an orchestra of bells in Cathedral Gardens and send a message of peace to the world – echoing the sentiment behind John Lennon’s Imagine.
Over at Mayfield depot, 59 Productions and Rambert stage the world premiere of Invisible Cities – a spectacular new take on the Italian writer Italo Calvino’s classic 1972 tale of alternate worlds, featuring a spellbinding mix of theatre, choreography, music, architectural design and projection mapping. And legendary Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera (who was recently arrested and went on hunger strike in protest against new censorship laws in her home country) will present School of Integration at Manchester Art Gallery – a curriculum of free classes delivered by residents of the city originally from elsewhere.
Nico fans can look forward to an immersive theatrical homage co-created and performed by Maxine Peake at The Stoller Hall, inspired by the avant-garde singer’s bleak and beautiful 1968 solo album The Marble Index. Tennessee William’s electrifying Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is reimagined by the celebrated American choreographer Trajal Harrell in a tumultuous mix of electro pop, classical music, Harlem voguing and Greek theatre at The Dancehouse. While the 200-year anniversary of the Peterloo massacre will be marked by an extraordinary day of performance, music and poetry led by ANU – one of the Europe’s most daring theatre companies – and a new score by critically-acclaimed composer Emily Howard, performed by the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Singers and three Hallé choirs.
Janelle Monáe, Idris Elba and Skepta are among the many other commissioned artists we’re especially looking forward to as part of Manchester’s biennial celebration of performance, art, music and theatre – the world’s first festival of original work and special events. The thematic focus of the 2019 edition seems to be on peace and union; a fitting tone amidst turbulent times and an uplifting follow-up to Artistic Director John McGrath’s stellar MIF debut in 2017. Safe to say, this should be one of the true cultural highlights of the year.
Here are our picks
Considered one of the most ‘internationally visible’ artists working out of Africa today, for MIF 2019 Ibrahim Mahama presents an assemblage of lost objects that reflect upon the history of his home country’s long struggle for independence.
As part of MIF 2019, acclaimed Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera will collaborate with local Manchester residents originally from other countries to challenge dominant societal expectations around cultural integration.
Brace yourself for dark mysteries and wilder dreams as Manchester International Festival invite cult artist and filmmaker David Lynch to take over HOME for a season of cinema, art and music.
Could the air that surrounds us be used to access the voices of the past? For MIF 2019, Mexican-Canadian electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer sets out to investigate a captivating theory posited by the great 19th century English polymath Charles Babbage