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MIF 23 goes large and larger

Updated: Mar 15, 2023


Kay Dick's cult classic 1977 text They is brought to life by Maxine Peake (above), Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight in an after-hours performance by Peake in the John Rylands Library
Kay Dick's cult classic 1977 text They is brought to life by Maxine Peake (above), Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight in an after-hours performance by Peake in the John Rylands Library

Factory International has announced the 2023 Manchester International Festival (MIF), which will run from June 29-July 16.

Working with partners both local and international, the wide-ranging programme of original new work will occupy venues and spaces throughout the city and at Factory International’s much-anticipated new home, which will open for the first time for the festival in advance of its official opening in October.

From a collaboration exploring art and the beautiful game by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and footballer Juan Mata, featuring new work by Tino Sehgal, to a mixed reality concert by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, from a live photographic performance by Benji Reid to a musical adaptation of a cult queer classic by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman, the expansive programme of new work will merge art forms in many ways.

Yayoi Kusama brings You, Me and the Balloons to Factory's new home
Yayoi Kusama brings You, Me and the Balloons to Factory's new home

Though the event will cover a lot of ground across many genres and arts, a major feature will be art in public spaces across the city. A major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable sculptures will form a centrepiece at Factory’s flagship new venue. You, Me and the Balloons will take over the vast warehouse space, inviting audiences to take an exhilarating journey through Kusama's psychedelic creations.

Festival Square will relocate to the building’s outdoor spaces, with free live music from over 100 performers and a wide variety of food and drink, creating a new riverside destination for Manchester.

Events will also take place in spaces and places across the city - including a city-wide quest for collectible coin artworks by Ryan Gander, a celebration of our connection to water on the banks of the River Medlock by Risham Syed and Angie Bual, and a chilling adaptation of a lost dystopian masterpiece in the depths of the John Rylands library by Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight.

Other highlights include a diverse programme of music; the premiere of a new show from John Grant and the Richard Hawley band celebrating pop and country legend Patsy Cline; a world premiere by John Luther Adams, inspired by arctic landscapes performed by the BBC Philharmonic; and a night of dance and music from dance company L-E-V curated by record label Young.

Building on the significant digital presence the festival has pioneered since 2017, MIF23 will also feature a range of livestreams and behind-the-scenes broadcasts, plus the world premiere of a new film by artist and director Jenn Nkiru, and a programme of talks from Guardian Live that will take place in person and online - full details will be announced later.

Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play jumps through Asian stereotypes and was  an intenational winner at the Bruntwood Prizes in 2019. It's a powerful world premiere directed by Roy Alexander Weise for the Royal Exchange Theatre
Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play jumps through Asian stereotypes and was an intenational winner at the Bruntwood Prizes in 2019. It's a powerful world premiere directed by Roy Alexander Weise for the Royal Exchange Theatre

Greater Manchester residents are once again at the heart of MIF23, from performing on Festival Square, to volunteering in an array of roles across the Festival. Many of the works reflect on the personal experiences of the city’s communities, from youth led performances, and exhibitions surrounding mental health as part of Balmy Army to a futuristic and interactive journey through Manchester by Blast Theory and Manchester Street Poem led by those most marginalised in the city.

Alongside the artists presenting new work at MIF23, a group of international artists will take up residency in communities in Greater Manchester to soak up the Festival and plan projects for the future, including El Conde de Torrefiel, The Nest Collective, Shilpa Gupta and FAFSWAG.

Reflecting its commitment to developing the next generation of creative talent, MIF23 will see artists from all stages of their careers given platforms to develop and learn during the festival. Six artists from the North will shadow the creation of MIF23 projects through the Factory Creative Fellowships.

Working with partners across the globe, once again much of the work made in Manchester for MIF23 will travel internationally, building on an audience to date of over 1.6 million people in more than 30 countries who have experienced MIF’s work overseas.

Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Factory International & Manchester International Festival John McGrath says: “From the radical and agenda setting to the purest of celebrations, MIF23’s programme covers a huge range of art forms and styles - from a ritual on the banks of a newly uncovered river, to mixed reality from one of Japan’s greatest composers, from a hunt for artworks across the city to a residency from one of American music’s most vibrant superstars. A genuine melting pot of creativity where artists share their ideas with each other and the public, the Festival will once again take the temperature of our times, and imagine possibilities for the future. MIF23 provides the first opportunity for audiences to experience Factory International’s new venue ahead of its official opening in October. The ultra-flexible building is based around vast, adaptable spaces that can be constantly reconfigured, enabling artists to develop and create large-scale work of invention and ambition of a kind seen nowhere else in the world. It is the largest new national cultural project since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000.


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