MIF19 David Lynch at HOME Manchester International Festival
Photo: Josh Telles

Manchester International Festival

Creative Tourist

Manchester International Festival 2019 is over and we look forward to seeing what comes next. With The Factory set to open in 2021, it will be intrestesting to see where Manchester’s flagship cultural event goes next.

I’s fair to say that we were more than a little excited by the calibre of MIF19’s programme.

Top of our list of highlights was 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 presented 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 MIF19.

Alongside this, the equally iconic queen of contemporary art Yoko Ono launched the festival with a sort of mass ‘happening’, involving 8,000 members of the public who formed an orchestra of bells in Cathedral Gardens and sent a message of peace to the world – echoing the sentiment behind John Lennon’s Imagine.

Over at Mayfield depot, 59 Productions and Rambert staged 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) presented School of Integration at Manchester Art Gallery – a curriculum of free classes delivered by residents of the city originally from elsewhere.

Nico fans enjoyed 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 was  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 was 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 were among the many other commissioned artists in 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 seemed to be on peace and union; a fitting tone amidst turbulent times and an uplifting follow-up to Artistic Director John McGrath’s MIF debut in 2017.

We’re looking forward to seeing where it goes next.

Here are our picks

  • 1. MIF19: Ibrahim Mahama at the Whitworth

    Ibrahim Mahama Photo © White Cube George Darrell. Courtesy of Manchester International Festival
    © White Cube George Darrell

    Parliament of Ghosts at The Whitworth, Manchester, 5 July–29 September 2019, free entry - Visit now

    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.

  • 2. MIF19: David Lynch at HOME

    MIF19 David Lynch at HOME Manchester International Festival
    Photo: Josh Telles

    David Lynch at HOME at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 6 July–29 September 2019, free entry - Visit now

    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.

Things to do right now

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Visual Arts 20 September 2018–19 September 2019, FREE

Manchester Art Gallery Highlights Tour

Red Dust Road at HOME
Literature 11–21 September 2019, from £10.00

Red Dust Road at HOME

A Taste of Honey at The Lowry
Theatre 13–21 September 2019, from £12.50

A Taste of Honey at The Lowry

Cinema 13–22 September 2019, from £9

The Shock of the Future at HOME

MIF19 David Lynch at HOME Manchester International Festival
Cinema 6 July–29 September 2019, FREE

MIF19: David Lynch at HOME

Unearthing passion and protest at Quarry Bank
Activity 13 July–29 September 2019, general admission charges apply

Glorious Phantoms at Quarry Bank