Sunday, 21 July 2002
Art for art’s sake, ‘eye candy’ culture, an excess of passive entertainment, sanitisation vs street art, corporate conformity swapping independent identity…stop us if you want to get off yet. And while yours head’s still spinning from the merry-go-round of the Games, prepare for the Blitz. Cue sexily subversive soundbite: ‘We didn’t want to be bad kids, TV made us do it.’
Art for those intent on kicking in their television sets and doing something far more interesting instead comes to us courtesy of the Blitz Festival this month, promising a line-up of ‘consciously creative’ cultural events intent on providing some very welcome relief from the pre-packaged novelty-lite world of entertainment happening elsewhere.
Organised by local arts collective nATo (the Northern Arts Tactical Offensive), for one week only the festival is set to launch this particular arts offensive on the city to encourage city dwellers and visitors alike to think twice about the confines of ‘entertainment’ and the possibilities of public art. Agitate – an artistic exhibition of huge scale and ambition –brashly and rather brilliantly borrows space from the soon-to-be shopping mall of the Great Northern Warehouse to sell (amongst other things) its anti-consumerist and anti-corporate ideas.
Artists involved include infamous Crass album cover designer Gee Vaucher (pictured), contemporary art installations from the likes of Dickie fom Dundee’s self-contained live sound installation Black Box (pictured) and the UHC collective’s take on the less than sound claim of the Situationist intent behind the Factory Façade (also pictured below). Local graffiti, street and stencil artists are also offered a platform for expression minus the council’s pest-control. Elsewhere, a variety of photographers, painters and performance artists, including a more mindblowing live performance than most from The Jackofficer,and alternative film, video, multimedia and musical food for thought abound. Go play with the boundaries.
Running until 27 July at Units 25-28, 1st floor, Great Northern Warehouse, Great Northern Square, Deansgate, M2 and The Greenroom, Whitworth Street. Opening times of exhibition 12noon-7pm. For more info and full programmes of events/ individual event times see www.nato.uk.net (also see listings sections for information on a series of multimedia film nights co-ordinated by BeyONdTV, presenting a selection of grassroots independent media).
Saturday, 20 July 2002
Manchester, 2002: Under the multi-logo’ed banner of the Commonwealth Games the city is in the grip of a corporate take-over, the likes of which it ha never seen. The homeless have been swept from the streets, public political protest outlawed, precincts repaved with sparkling York stone while the communities they serve suffer swinging cuts to pay for the facelift. The Free Trade Hall – Manchester’s monument to universal suffrage – has been sold off to hoteliers with barely a whisper of dissent in the local media. Sceptical? Take one of the new open-top tour buses and see for yourself Manchester’s transformation from cultural melting pot to corporate hospitality suite.
At the forefront of the resistance is blitZ!m a week-long political arts festival organised by the city’s renegade Northern Arts Tactical Offensive, timed to meet The Games – and its slew of official sideshows and festivals – head on. A celebration of contemporary subversive art, it will see America’s Surveillance Camera Players let loose in the city centre, “anarchitectual” situationistas The Spacehijackers warping the landscape, plus live music, film and comedy in the Great Northern Square.
BlitZ: Manchester runs July 20 -29.
For info call 0161 226 7192. Or call Agitate on 0161 238 8523.