Art Night, London’s favourite contemporary art festival, will celebrate its fifth edition by taking place in 10 locations across the United Kingdom for the first time this summer. Transforming iconic and unexpected public spaces within London since 2016, Art Night 2021, curated by Helen Nisbet, will stretch 1000+ miles across Scotland, England and Wales, from North to South and East to West as well as even further digitally and physically for international audiences. For the first time Art Night – will also take place for a month, allowing audiences the opportunity to access commissions, performances and interventions in rural locales, towns and cities as well as from home.
“In 2015, we had the ambition to create London’s first free night-time contemporary art festival in unexpected places. We were only just starting, working from home and learning as we went along. We knew we wanted contemporary art to be accessible to a wider audience, regardless of background. Fast forward 5 years, 4 editions, 260,000 live audiences and 50 major artist commissions, we’re back working from home but our ambition to widen audiences for contemporary continues to expand. In 2021, we’re absolutely delighted to present new work by exceptional artists to audiences across the country, in cities, towns and even villages”Philippine Nguyen and Ksenia Zemtsova, Co-founders of Art Night,
Announced for the first time today, is the Guerrilla Girls biggest UK public commission to date, The Male Graze. The commission includes a website, online gig and national series of billboards exploring bad behaviour both historically and in the present day. The work will manifest as a series of billboards across the UK including London, Eastbourne, Dundee, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Warwick, Swansea and more. The billboards will be on display from 18 June to 18 July and in partnership with Art Night’s friends Compton Verney, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Glasgow Women’s Library, g39, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Grand Union, The Tetley and Towner Eastbourne. Art Night will also present this commission in two London sites in Shoreditch and London Bridge.
Alberta Whittle will make and present a new film, Holding the Line, alongside a recorded performance at Somerset House which will be broadcast at the end of the festival. She will also give a performance at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. There will also be a screening programme of Alberta’s films in Abergavenny train station, Wales in partnership with Peak and at KLA ART produced by 32° East in Uganda.
Further amplifying Art Night’s reach for long term London fans of the festival and those further afield, a series of performances and works will be broadcast at the end of the festival on 16 July.
Award-winning dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty will collaborate with dancers to stage an immersive theatrical installation and live performance at brutalist landmark,180 The Strand. Dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty will work with collaborator and filmmaker Luca Truffarelli to present Lazarus Multiverse, bringing the camera on stage for an immersive performance moving between dance, death and resurrection, on repeat, in limbo.Commissioned by Art Night and Somerset House, with support from The Adonyeva Foundation, Somerset House Studios artists Philomène Pirecki, Imran Perretta and Paul Purgas, OOMK (One of My Kind) and Sonya Dyer will present individual commissions:
- Working with bioacoustics, biological time and electromagnetism, Philomène Pirecki will broadcast a new video exploring the ephemerality of intense sensory states, recorded at the newly launched 180 Studios at 180 The Strand and offsite locations.
- Imran Perretta and Paul Purgas will present a new work featuring a pre recorded performance accompanied by Carnatic dance and vocal improvisation to explore diasporic echoes, syncretic mythologies and polyrhythm within South Asian consciousness.
- Collaborative art publishing practice OOMK (One of My Kind) will create their first contemporary art commission for Art Night 2021. The work consists of the design and distribution of “STUART Papers” a highly visual newspaper that reflects thematically on selected texts from the Stuart Hall Library at INIVA with responses from contemporary London-based collectives.
- Sonya Dyer is making a new moving image work – released in short episodes – which extends Hailing Frequencies Open, her ongoing body of work exploring Greek mythology, Speculative fiction and Space travel. HeLa cells, having travelled to the Andromeda galaxy (2.5 million light years from Earth), make contact with our planet via morse code refracted through the rhythms of African diasporic drumming practices. For Art Night, Dyer reimagines the story of Andromeda – the Aethiopian princess of Greek myth – across time and Space.
- Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey will present a new work where looped YouTube footage of a young man jumping through the glass window of a bus stop is augmented by an acrobat re-enacting the same action as they are flashed by a brilliant light. Recorded at 180 Studios at 180 The Strand.
Outside of London, artist Isabel Lewis has developed a new Art Night commission – What can we learn about love from lichen? – in the Scottish Isle of Skye. A co-commission between Art Night and ATLAS Arts, Isabel Lewis is working with collaborators in Skye to choreograph a series of guided walks brought together in a final ‘hosted occasion’, tuning the ears, eyes and the body to more sensuous forms of knowing and being together. In partnership with Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Isabel Lewis will draw on these choreographic scores to stage a new sound work within the parkland of Compton Verney and this will run for the duration of Art Night. Supported by Goethe-Institut.
In partnership with Broadway’s Near Now Adham Faramawy will present a new commission for Art Night: The heart wants what the heart wants. Adham Faramawy will present a new film work continuing their research into identity, bodies, desire and queering ideas of the natural. This work will explore our entanglement with each other and the multispecies ecology we live within.
Rather than a ‘theme’, the 2021 festival is titled Nothing Compares 2 U after the song written by Prince and famously performed by Sinead O’ Connor. This lyric acts as a frame for the programme, not asking artists to respond or fit within it, but instead to use it as a reference point or way of setting the tone. In this case, the reference refers most specifically to a performance by O’ Connor on The Late Late Show in 2019 – visibly older than in her iconic 1990 music video, wearing a hijab and carrying the scars of a career tarnished with controversy and conjecture, at the end of the performance O’ Connor looks directly into the camera at and gives a little wave. This quiet moment of self determination and defiance is the essence of the 2021 programme.
“We find ourselves hobbling, a year after COVID-19; political and economic uncertainty and potential devastation for the arts. This programme was developed during ongoing Brexit ‘negotiations’ in a Conservative-led Britain, with far right politics rising across the globe. The Art Night 2021 programme was and is still about our personal victories and survival tactics – small acts of defiance and moments of self determination – both personal and collective. It is about how we continue and what gets us through, when so many of the dominant economic, institutional, political and cultural structures are against us or are trying to break us. We are indebted to our artists for the time and the care they’ve put into making work under such uncertain and challenging circumstances. The constant change has been tough, but it has also offered a beautiful opportunity to adapt the format of the festival – to work across the whole country, to invite camaraderie through partnerships and to expand the duration of the festival. We’ve had to do some quick learning and shifting on considering what it means to curate and produce work to be viewed online but I’m excited about the scope of the commissions to be seen by anyone in the world with internet access”Helen Nisbet, Artistic Director of Art Night 2021,
A schedule and details of the Art Night 2021 route and broadcasts will be available nearer the time to help visitors plan their trip both online and offline and full details on billboard locations shared at artnight.london