The festival’s visual arts programme takes place over two years. It incorporates the work of UK-based (particularly focusing on Midlands artists) and an international artist based in Europe. Each two year cycle explores a particular theme. With this purpose we open a bi-annual call for:
- UK-based visual artists from different disciplines to present work at AE Harris during the festival. The three artists whose work best embodies the programme’s theme will be selected.
- A European-based artist to carry out a residency at the festival which takes inspiration from the event, and the theme, with particular focus on BE-Mix, and in response develops a project during the year that is presented at the next festival.
BE FESTIVAL’s ethos of ‘crossing borders’ attempts to show the shifting notions of what constitutes a border. According to TJ Demos “with the eventual crisis of globalisation and the failure of many of the promises of neo-liberal capitalism, we have seen borders emerge everywhere. For many, that has been a poignant sign of global inequality.”
Borders are new conditions that increasingly define and divide our lives politically, economically, and socially. We could also add artistic and linguistic borders. Classification and labeling are artifices created to define concepts but hence divide them. BE FESTIVAL aims to devise a collective experiment that combines utopian aspirations with critical awareness.
Exploring Borders and IssuesBE FESTIVAL explores the ‘borders’ between performative and visual arts. In this regard, the festival presents performative and visual arts as applied forms inserted in a ‘social sculpture’ –using Joseph Beuys term –, that challenge assumptions about who is performing, who is taking part and who is viewing as part of a holistic and collective experience.
All events take place in a versatile old factory: a temporal and spatial framework that embodies the ephemeral. Exchange, open-endedness, collaboration, participation and activation are also core concepts of BE FESTIVAL.
In 2011, we pushed our boundaries a little further and opened a call for proposals from visual artists that best embodied the ethos of BE: to cross borders. The programme crossed the borders between ‘plastic’ and ‘performed’ work and explored the cross-fertilisation of ideas between artforms.
In 2011 – 2012, we explored the concept of identity.
In 2013 – 2014, we will explore the concepts of money, transaction and alternative currency.