Visual Arts at MIF23

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor

Manchester International Festival spans every imaginable arts discipline, yet always remains firmly rooted in its artistic ideals of reimagining how art events can be experienced and, of course, delighting audiences. This year is no different with a whole host of visual arts events, exhibitions and one-off activities that are taking over many of the arts venues in the city, including the freshly opened Factory International.

First up is the unmissable Yayoi Kusama and her inflatable artworks in You, Me and Balloons, which fill Factory International’s warehouse space with kaleidoscopic inflatable artworks.

Tino Sehgal’s This Entry, remains a slightly mysterious display created with the help of a group of highly skilled people from very different professional fields. This event will be split between the National Football Museum and the Whitworth. Also at the Whitworth, you’ll find Economics The Blockbuster – It’s not Business as Usualan exhibition that examines the idea of economic systems via the lens and use of art.

Meanwhile, Balmy Army are a a movement for youth-led mental health, inviting everyone to protest about and discuss the issue with them at HOME. Find Your Eyes at Manchester Academy is artist Benji Reid’s live photography show, in which the artist invites a live theatre audience to take a peek behind the scenes at his unique creative process.

Our top picks

MIF23: You, Me and the Balloons at Factory International

You, Me and the Balloons at Factory International, City Centre, 30 June–28 August 2023, from £7.50 - Book now

The installation is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the polka dot world of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures, celebrating three decades of her unmistakable artistic output.

You, Me and the Balloons
Yayoi Kusama and Dots Obsession, 1996-2011 Installation (Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo). Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.

MIF23: Sonics, Stories and Scenes of the Diaspora at Manchester Museum

Sonics, Stories and Scenes of the Diaspora at Manchester Museum, Manchester, 1 July 2023, free entry - Find Out More

Manchester Museum and SEEN magazine are celebrating the contribution of the South Asian diaspora on music and culture as a whole in this one-day event located in the Museum’s brand new South Asia Gallery.

Image by Yushy.

MIF23: Tino Sehgal, This entry at the National Football Museum and the Whitworth

This entry at National Football Museum, Cathedral Quarter, 29 June–16 July 2023, free entry - Find Out More

This Entry combines two worlds which would otherwise be unlikely to meet – art and football. Sehgal’s performance-based, one-off works often leave no physical trace so come along and be part of the exhibition in real time.

MIF23: Balmy Army at HOME

Balmy Army at HOME Manchester, Manchester, 1–15 July 2023

Balmy Army’s requests are simple – they want better access to mental health support and they want it now. Their exhibition at HOME is an expression of this desire in multiple ways, with a strong focus on the community, dialogue and with lots of energy to inspire change.

MIF23: Economics The Blockbuster – It’s not Business as Usual at the Whitworth

Economics The Blockbuster at The Whitworth, Manchester, 30 June–22 October 2023, free entry

Business can sometimes be a dirty world in the art circles but this exhibition clearly illustrates that it can sustainable and communities can be cared for as a result. The show is bursting with ideas for ethical businesses and innovative ways of supporting the people in and around them.

Members and regular pickers of Company Drinks, a community - driven drinks business, forage for hawthorns at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham, East London/Essex. Photo courtesy of Company Drinks

MIF23: Find Your Eyes at Manchester Academy

Find Your Eyes at Manchester Academy, Manchester, 12–16 July 2023, from £10.00 - Book now

Benji Reid fuses photography, choreography and theatre in his Afro-futurist images that reflect on his experiences living as a Black man in the UK today.

Find Your Eyes
Image courtesy of Benji Reid.
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