FEATURE: Middlesbrough Art Week | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Artwork by Saeborg

Over 120 regional, national and international artists will take part in Middlesbrough Art Week at venues across the town from Thursday 28th September-Saturday 7th October, and as is usual at MAW, there’s a general theme for the proceedings; this year artists have been selected based on thoughts around the theme of ‘measure’, and how we perceive, mark, measure and value time.

The programme is extensive and wide-ranging, with big hitters including British installation artist Mike Nelson, whose work looks at the desolation of humankind and the detritus of what we will leave behind, and MAW will also present an assemblage from his Gang of Seven (2013) installation. Fluxus group artist Ken Friedman’s work interrogates the idea of art as a form of monetary value or an investment; while David Shrigley’s vibrant cartoonish work taps into the spirit of contemporary visual culture through subversive humour and clever captions.

Further highlights include inflatable sculpture Pigpen by Japanese artist Saeborg, who creates latex body suits as an extension of her own skin, transcending fixed identities and even the human body itself to create playful dystopias of the ecosystem’s basest creatures. Challenging notions of identity, religion and feminism, multidisciplinary artist Sarah Maple exhibits her work Labour of Love, which contains 650 images of Sarah feeding her baby, taken over a three month period.

We have a programme that is on par with major festivals across the country

Liz Wilson’s intriguing contribution is an exploration of how automation effects our relationship with technology, exploring the stretch of time between the industrial and post-industrial. Mike Stubbs’ Climate Emergency Services is a ‘conflicted’ vehicle and artwork which aims to challenge our relationship to motor vehicles as we face increased environmental extremes. There are further harsh truths in Vision 25-C’s work, which spans sound art, film, installation and performance to discuss ideas around authority, communication, hierarchy and existence, often pushing the boundaries of ‘comfortable’ art.

Regional artists taking part include photographer Jason Hynes, who continues his Hometown project in which he photographs the people of Middlesbrough; there’s a screening of documentary Tish by Paul Sng, which celebrates the vision and humanism of Newcastle-based photographer Tish Murtha; Middlesbrough photographer Rachel Deakin’s work focuses on elements of the everyday depicted through photography, moving image, found objects and collage; interdisciplinary artist Will Hughes’ work mixes pop culture references with material language to explore their lived experiences as a queer non-binary person; plus there’s work on display by notable local artists Gordon Dalton, John James Perangie, Diane Bowell, Loucey Bain, Adam Wilson Holmes, Rachel Clewlow, Liberty Hodes and Lisa Lovebucket. In addition, 10 regional artists will be platformed as part of the North East Open Call, with work by Lee Cutter, Eve Cromwell and Rachel Blackwell on display.

The festival’s direct Liam Slevin explains the evolving ethos of the event. “Over the years we’ve always pushed ourselves and the festival’s ambition, striving to place Middlesbrough as the hidden gem of culture and creativity in the North East and I feel like we are hitting some of those ambitions. We have a programme that is on par with major festivals across the country.”

Middlesbrough Art Week takes place at various venues throughout the town from Thursday 28th September-Saturday 7th October.

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