So this exhibition is all part of Manchester International Festival, which opens today. This is the third incarnation of the festival, and it’s getting stronger and more exciting each time.
John Gerrard, Artist:
Well, this is Infinite Freedom Exercise, is the title of this piece, and it is derived in response to a press photograph from 1980, of the first Iran–Iraq War, in which an anonymous soldier watches a pair of oil refineries burning on the horizon. But at least one in four, one in five members of the public begin to mimic his actions, which I really didn’t expect.
I’m Michael Morris, I’m the co-director of Artangel.
And I’m James Lingwood. I’m also a co-director of Artangel, and we are standing in a room upstairs in the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.
The Artangel collection is some 20 works that over the last two decades we have commissioned and produced. They are all works made in the moving image.
This is a kind of survey of the different ways in which artists and film-makers have used the moving image, from Atom Egoyan, if you like, to celluloid, and the installation called Steenbeckett, Francis Alys making a number of video works including a fox let out loose in the gallery at night.
Maria Balshaw, Director, Whitworth Art Gallery:
And we’ve got Tony Oursler called the Influence Machine, and it’s a series of projections into the trees outside. And then inside the gallery there’s a talking light; so it flickers on and off, and it is having a conversation with you as you walk into the room.
High Wire is a work by Catherine Yass that Artangel commissioned in 2008. The main part of it is a four-screen video presentation of a man, Didier Pasquette, walking across a high wire that Catherine and Artangel had slung between three tower blocks on the Red Road Estate in Glasgow. And that empathy between human beings and art – it’s a disappointment that he doesn’t get all the way across the high wire, but thanking God that he didn’t die. Everybody that has seen the work so far in the gallery, they’ve all been amazed that there was no safety net, you know, and if he fell, that would have been, you know, he would have been falling to his death.