Manchester Salon Weekend 2012

Mixed-media artist and curator Alice Bradshaw offers an overview of the Manchester Salon Weekend, 19th to 20th May 2012.

Manchester Salon Weekend featured current contemporary visual arts practice in Manchester as part of the North West Visual Arts Open 2012. Special events coincided alongside pre-existing exhibitions, offering a showcase of artist-led activity in Greater Manchester. For an art tourist seeking a dose of Manchester’s contemporary visual arts, Manchester Salon Weekend provided a scheduled timetable to get a good fix in just two days.

The big event in town, FutureEverything festival, had two featured exhibitions from the visual arts category of their annual celebration of new technologies, art and music. The Museum of Science and Industry hosted Future Everybody, where visitors walking around with their mobile phones scanning QR codes and texting JOIN to numbers featured on text panels is to be expected, amongst a plethora of visual data harvested and re-contextualised from social media.

On the other side of the city centre from MOSI, Handmade at Victoria Baths was part site-specific installation and part craft fair with workshops exploring what happens when new technologies and handcraft converge. For example, Knitter Feed by Jenny Steele and Elizabeth Wewiora, in collaboration with Cross Acres Knitting & Crochet Group and programmer Tom Kinniburgh, invited twitter users to post requests for knitted item hashtagging #knitterfeed for interpretation and physical realisation of their twitterfeed ideas. There was also the coinciding Victoria Baths Fanzine Convention lining the spectator balconies of the restored historic baths with various contributors selling their wares plus a photocopier at people’s disposal.

Running parallel to Future Everybody and Handmade, Chinese Arts Centre was screening 60 Minute Cinema – in the second part of a six week changing programme – showcasing new video art from mainland China. People’s Park guest curated by Dong Bingfeng screened four video artists, amongst whom Cao Fei (China Tracy) shows People’s Limbo – a video created a Second Life world RMB City featuring a giant People’s Monopoly board and avatars of Karl Marx, a Lehman brother and Chairman Mao in conversation.

Discussion featured largely on the programme agenda with a curator’s tour of Subversion at Cornerhouse by Omar Kholeif, a roundtable on Art, Design, Activism and Occasional Property Development at Ultimate Holding Company based at Hotspur House and an artist-led platform at Castlefield Gallery.

Artist-Led Platform #1 introduced ten Greater Manchester based artist-led projects in ten minute presentations. Presenters included Kwong Lee, artist and Director of Castlefield Gallery, Bill Campbell of Islington Mill and Magnus Quaife from Rogue Studios.

As other neighbouring cities build on their different collective visual arts strategies with events such as the biannual Art Sheffield, the bimonthly Wakefield Artwalk and the various Liverpool initiatives – now conglomerating with Manchester and the wider North West – it will be exciting to see how this latest initiative of Contemporary Visual Arts Manchester develops.

Manchester Salon Weekend was coordinated by Contemporary Visual Arts Manchester as part of the North West Visual Arts Open 2012.

For more insight into Manchester Salon Weekend, see our interview with curator Omar Kholeif.

Text by Alice Bradshaw.

Published 21.05.2012 by Bryony Bond

612 words