News / Art

Unlikely trio of Skepta, Yoko Ono, and Idris Elba to exhibit at Manchester International Festival 2019


Manchester International Festival/Olivia Rose: Skepta

If Morrissey is to be believed, Manchester has so much to answer for, but we’ll never turn down a trip to Cottonopolis. From the second we alight at Picadilly, till the minute we hop back on board the pendolino and drift back toward the big smoke, you’ll catch us with a big, broad grin on our faces. And, apparently, it isn’t just It’s Nice That who enjoy ambling around the Arndale before tucking into a hearty dinner at Bundobust.

Next July sees the somewhat unlikely trio of Yoko Ono, Idris Elba, and Skepta exhibiting at the Manchester International Festival 2019. Not together, sadly, and rumours that they’ll be releasing a collaborative LP to tie in to the event are currently resting at the ‘unfounded’ stage. The festival’s organisers state that, “each commission [is] set to offer a distinctive and very personal take on how we relate to today’s world.”

“Yoko Ono”; states that her contribution, entitled Bells for Peace, will “break the sky and more.” The (usually grey) skies of Manchester will find themselves shattered thanks to the Japanese artist’s use of an orchestra of bells.

Grime superstar Skepta, so the organisers say, is readying himself to invite all of us into “another world” with a “series of intimate and immersive experiences.” Dystopia987 is going take place in a secret location in the city, and will see the Boy Better Know member perform live alongside guest performers and DJs, in an attempt to bring the MC’s “deep, dark, radical, and riveting,” vision of the future to life.

Rounding off this first set of announcements is Stringer Bell himself. Actor and DJ Idris Elba is working alongside the Young Vic’s artistic director Kawme Kwei-Armah on Tree, a “thrilling journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa.” Inspired by Idris’ album Mi Mandela you can expect a blend of music, dance, and film.

Manchester International Festival 19 takes place from 4-21 July 2019, with artists from across the globe creating an enormous variety of new work in spaces throughout the city. Previous participants include Marina Abramović, Björk, and Jeremy Deller.


Manchester International Festival/Matthew Placek: Yoko Ono


Manchester International Festival/David Sandison: Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah