Belfast International Arts Festival is delighted to announce that the provisional dates for the 56th edition are Tuesday 16 October to Saturday 3 November 2018 inclusive.
Today, the Festival announced the programme with a new signature work from American social practice artist, Suzanne Lacy, called Across and In-Between to be co-commissioned by the Festival and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.
Borders have profound impacts on the lives of people who live on or near them. Some borders, such as the one dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic, run through lakes, roads and farmland. The Partition of Ireland dates from the end of the First World War. After the Easter Rising of 1916 and the assertion of independence by Sinn Fein in 1918, a devastating civil war broke out following the division of Ireland into north and south. The consequences of partition are still being felt today.
Suzanne Lacy investigates how the border frames identity and intervenes in the routine of everyday life. For this new commission, she co-creates with residents a series of localised gatherings and individual musings on visible and invisible borders.
Lacy is a celebrated pioneer of social practice, a form of art that engages the public in collaborative projects on social issues such as class, race and gender equity. For the 56th edition of the Belfast International Arts Festival and the final season of 14-18 NOW, Lacy will work with communities from both sides of the Irish border on a shared artistic project that will also feature a presentation in Belfast in October 2018.
Making the announcement, Festival CEO and Artistic Director Richard Wakely said:
“Borders are in the news as never before, from the continuing migration of peoples from Africa and Middle East into Europe through to the implications of Brexit for those living and working on the island of Ireland. However, does a border represent a particular kind of region or social environment? If so, does the border tend to produce a particular kind of culture? And what is the relationship between this environment and its culture? The Belfast International Arts Festival is a place for artists and audiences to come together and to explore, exchange and debate such ideas through creative practice. We are delighted to continue our relationship with 14-18 NOW with this co-commission of a new participatory work, Across and In-Between from Suzanne Lacy that will explore the impact of the Irish border on identity and everyday life for those who live on or near to it”.
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:
“The importance of staging an international arts festival in Belfast cannot be overestimated. As the Festival’s principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland recognises its enormous contribution to high-quality arts and culture in return for a relatively small amount of public investment. We are delighted to support the Belfast International Arts Festival once again through National Lottery and public funding and we wish the team every success with this year’s festival.”
Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 NOW said:
“14-18 NOW is the UK’s arts programme connecting people with the First World War. Our final season in 2018 marks the centenary of the Armistice and end of the war and features brand new artworks by some of the world’s leading contemporary artists taking place across the UK. 14-18 NOW has worked with Belfast International Arts Festival for three years, and we are thrilled to have the chance to continue this partnership. Across and In-Between, by the renowned artist Suzanne Lacy, tackles the complex issue of borders, a topical theme in the UK and beyond. This work will leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
The full Festival Programme is due to be revealed later in the year with booking available for some key events over the coming months.