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Middlesbrough Art Weekender reveals taster programme for 2021 festival


Sep 5, 2021

Middlesbrough Art Weekender returns for its fourth year this September and it’s better than ever

Middlesbrough Art Weekender 30 September – 3 October 2021


The programme for this year’s Middlesbrough Art Weekender will feature a striking mix of unique art – including a dystopian model village, live smelting and lava sculptures, large-scale photography and the first-ever exhibition of American artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s work in the North East. 

Visitors to the festival will get the chance to view and participate in the contemporary art experiences in locations across Middlesbrough. 

The first highlights of the four-day programme to be revealed include: 

  • Municipal Disaster Zone Estate by Jimmy Cauty is an immersive experience looking down the grim lens of a dystopian future.

This dystopian model village experience features four abandoned concrete tower blocks, housed in a 40ft shipping container, designed for visitors to walk through.

The tower blocks each contain satirical scenes of mass social, economic and environmental devastation. From the residential ‘Live-Work-Die’ Units to a high-security children’s prison, a care home for the elderly and a centre for neo-pagan misbehaviour. It has previously been shown in Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hull and Stoke-on-Trent. 

Visitors can choose to experience the installation in one of two modes – Lockdown and Full English. Lockdown is a calmer, more leisurely exploration whereas Full English is a chaotic and louder experience. It will be located at Centre Square for the weekender and then in The Auxiliary for four weeks. 

  • Bristol-based artist Jo Lathwood presents Is It Magma? Lathwood makes sculptures and large-scale installations that respond to a particular site, material or process. At Middlesbrough Art Weekender, she will perform live smelting experiences at Orange Pip to create lava sculptures by experimenting with historic foundry techniques. 
  • For the first time ever work by Gordon Matta-Clark will be exhibited in the North East thanks to a three-year partnership between Middlesbrough Art Weekender and Gordon Matta-Clark’s estate. 

Matta-Clark’s films Splitting (1974) and Day’s End will be shown at 32 Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1QD. From March to June 1974, Matta-Clark used a chainsaw to bisect a New Jersey house scheduled for demolition. After chiselling at its foundations, Matta-Clark transformed the house into a temporary sculptural environment – Splitting documents this process.

Day’s End documents the progress of one Matta-Clark’s most ambitious and controversial deconstruction projects. As is typical of his style, he sought to recover a lost and abandoned part of the city for public enjoyment and collective creation. This film documents the cuts, slices and dissections he made at Pier 52 on the Hudson River, a relic of the industrial heritage of New York City.

  • The Sonic Bikes return after being so well received by the public at Sonic Arts Week in July. Visitors can take a ride through Middlesbrough Town on bikes equipped with a soundscape shaped by local people’s stories, sounds and music. 
  • Newcastle artist Narbi Price’s The Lockdown Paintings series will be exhibited at 32 Albert Road and Fiona Crisp’s large-scale photographic installations documenting Boulby Mine at Saltburn-by-the-Sea will be shown at 36 Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1QD. 

Liam Slevin, co-founder of Middlesbrough Art Weekender, said: “This year’s Middlesbrough Art Weekender will bring a fantastic collection of contemporary artworks to Middlesbrough – giving people the chance to see work from some of the best artists around and to explore areas of the town they may never have seen before.”

The critically acclaimed art weekender is the largest contemporary art festival in the North East and will take over Middlesbrough from 30 September to 3 October 2021. Visitors can expect to enjoy performances, installations, immersive experiences, workshops and activities which are connected to Middlesbrough’s industrial heritage. Middlesbrough Art Weekender is free to attend, family-friendly and accessible.