This year’s AV Festival is set to be a slow and extremely laid back affair. And not because the organisers have run out of steam – quite the opposite.
But we all lead such a fast paced existence that it’s a treat to sometimes be able to wind down and take things to a more leisurely and sedate level.
In fact, as slow as possible, which also happens to be the theme of AV Festival 2012, taking place at venues across the North East between March 1-31.
The UK’s leading international festival of art, technology, music and film, a plethora of suitably unhurried events have been planned to keep locals and visitors alike in a mellow frame of mind.
Indeed, some of the planned works are so laid back they will actually run for the full 31 days of the festival.
Others may last for a day, fleeting moments only or freeze or extend time.
The biennial festival will span visual art, film, sound and music, with the programme promising to manifest itself in different places at diverse paces, speeds and times of day throughout March.
Headline artists will include James Benning, Jem Finer, Hamish Fulton, Cyprien Gaillard, Torsten Lauschmann, John Gerrard, Kenneth Goldsmith, Leif Inge, Phill Niblock, Jonathan Schipper, Susan Stenger and Yoshi Wada.Featuring over 100 artists in 20 exhibitions, 70 special events and five ‘slow’ weekends of concerts, films, talks and walks, AV Festival 12: As Slow As Possible, will reveal its speed in over 30 venues across the region including The Sage Gateshead, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, Tyneside Cinema, Great North Museum, Newcastle Civic Centre, the Tyne Bridge Tower and scores of public spaces.
A special 100th anniversary John Cage tribute concert at The Sage Gateshead will feature new commissions from Fluxus artist Yoshi Wada and legendary New York musician Phill Niblock.
Mima will house the largest museum show to date of leading visual artist and winner of the 2010 Marcel Duchamp Award, Cyprien Gaillard. His compelling, cinematic films of ruined landscapes and decay show contemporary architecture being slowly taken over by nature.
In the same venue are two UK premieres of recent works by John Gerrard. His Cuban School series are slow-moving real-time computer generated portraits of utopian schools constructed in the 1960s and now functional ruins of that time.
In a disused space in the centre of Newcastle, the UK premiere of Jonathan Schipper’s slow-motion car crash will take 31 days to reach its final conclusion.
Leif Inge’s live performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony is stretched to 24 hours. And fresh from performing at the White House, poet and Ubuweb founder Kenneth Goldsmith will perform a nine-hour reading of UK weather reports!
Renowned UK musician Susan Stenger’s world premiere of her new outdoor sound installation will take place within the dramatic architecture of Newcastle Civic Centre. Over six hours, every day for 31 days the piece will progress through a full annual lunar cycle.
Leading sound artist and ex-member of The Pogues, Jem Finer, will slow down one LP record each day of the festival, stretched to the length of a day.
And in his first ever UK exhibition, acclaimed artist and musician, Yoshi Wada, will create a new sculptural sound installation in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, made from organ pipes, sheet metal, sirens, alarms and industrial ventilation pipes.
Eleven seconds will become 31 minutes in the Platform A gallery at Middlesborough’s train station in avant-garde filmmaker James Benning’s single shot of a factory worker leaving his workplace, taken from his 1971 film Time & A Half.
Benning also premieres a new work; one long take of a forest going from daylight to the total darkness of night.
Slow Cinema is a season of 20 films devoted to stillness and contemplation that includes leading international filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, Alexander Sokurov, Abbas Kiarostami, Pedro Costa, Carlos Reygadas, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Bruno Dumontand and many more.Meanwhile, a special weekend focus includes guest appearances by Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso, the Hungarian-German director and cinematographer Fred Kelemen and the first UK retrospective of the five, 10 hour-long films of award-winning Filipino director Lav Diaz.
The festival will close with a mass participation Slow Walk by British land artist, Hamish Fulton, in which 300 people traverse slowly across a landmark post-industrial site.
Rebecca Shatwell, director of AV Festival, says: “The ambitious artistic programme for the festival expands the previous 10-day duration to a month long slow edition.
“The artists have responded to ideas of slowness, duration and acceleration to create work that will enable us to pause, reflect and think about the world in new ways.”
AV Festival 12: As Slow As Possible, launches on March 1 with 24 hours of exhibition openings, live performances, film screenings, talks and other events across the North East, allowing the whole festival to be sampled – in advance – as fast as possible…