Nomadic AND Festival resurfaces along Manchester Ship Canal + River Mersey

Festival of new cinema, digital culture and art

Thu 27 May – Sun 11 July 2021

Resurfacing for seven weeks from 27 May - 11 July, Abandon Normal Devices Festival, the UK’s only roaming digital festival, will be presented in a brand new, hybrid format.

Exploring the post-industrial landscapes of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey, AND Festival 2021 will stream via waterways and cables lying deep beneath the waves. Following the flows of shipping, energy and political power structures, from container ports on our doorsteps to the depths of the ocean floor; through ecosystems bound up with industrial chemicals, minerals and microplastics, to their effects on our planet, human and non-human bodies, the themes for this year’s presentation are hugely topical and urgent.

This hybrid format is new for the nomadic festival of digital culture, art and film - usually sited within unexpected landscapes such as Grizedale Forest or the Peak District - however, AND has always pushed the boundaries of how audiences experience art. Taking place online and at physical locations around Merseyside and Cheshire (UK), much of the programme will be freely available through a newly commissioned virtual portal.

For 2021, AND is pleased to reveal five new commissions with international artists and partners:

The Blue Violet River  - Anita Fontaine

Step aboard the iconic Mersey Ferry to inhabit a fantasy-fiction world exploring an evolved reality brought about by climate change, rising sea levels and tropical climates. Psychedelic audio-visual sculptures explode from land and water, and the Mersey skyline playfully shapeshifts revealing a surreal alternate reality of the urban landscape in this augmented reality (AR) workwhich playfully envisions a peaceful future vision of evolved humanity. From the river’s intercontinental trade to the regular blooms of moon jellyfish drawn in by tidal currents, our post-industrial perspective of the River Mersey warps in this future-forward techno fantasy.

By The Sound of Things  - Kate Davies

By the Sounds of Things is an immersive audiovisual experience onboard the unique steam-powered, Mersey-built boat, The Daniel Adamson (The Danny).  From the deck of one of the last surviving Manchester Ship Canal tugs, the audience is invited to feel the vast echoes and epic scale of the modern shipping industry and consider the extent and impact of our insatiable consumerism on local and global environments. This hypnotic binaural sound work tells the story of the journey of a container as it travels from the surface to the bottom of the ocean, whilst an accompanying film focusing on the world above water presents a collision of the extraordinary and the banal that defines the image of global sea trade – an absurd narrative of ordinary things. 

WetLab - public works + Assembly

This floating laboratory, using the canal network as a site as well as a subject, will create an opportunity for discussion and exploration, serving as a spark to imagine future uses of living on and around water. Sited at National Waterways Museum, WetLab will host playful experiments, workshops and cross-disciplinary discussions. 

The canal-based pavilion, designed by critical design practice public works, will tour sites across Greater Manchester and Lancashire after launching in Cheshire for AND Festival 2021, becoming a hub for innovative learning, discussion, and engagement on the waterways.  

One-Fifth Of The Earth's Surface -- Hakeem Adam and Maxwell Mutanda

A conversation between artists Hakeem Adam, Maxwell Mutanda and the Atlantic Ocean, One-Fifth of the Earth’s Surface is presented as an interactive audio-visual landscape and explorative online experience that unearths the power of water as a dynamic and fluid archive.The project offers multiple readings of the unpredictable transatlantic waters as an evolving structure that initiates change on its surrounding lands, rerouting power and reshaping the lives of all who depend on it. This web-based artwork serves as an experimental route for users to read various digital drawings each offering and responding to a specific theme connected to the Atlantic Ocean, a body of water covering one-fifth of the Earth’s surface.

Toxicity's Reach - Mary Maggic, Dr Luiza Prado and Sissel Marie Tonn

From microplastics to pharmaceuticals and fertilizers, chemical cocktails contaminate waterways, eroding environmental and public health. When we cook our meals, wash our clothes, empty our sinks, drink water and use beauty products, we contribute to polluted ecosystems. As humans, we are entangled with the very environments we seek to live with, from and in.

Through three newly commissioned online artworks by artists, Mary Maggic, Dr Luiza Prado, and Sissel Marie Tonn, and an accompanying body of research, online exhibition Toxicity’s Reach radically traces some of the ways in which contaminants  affect our lives in unexpected ways.  How might a reimagination of toxic worlds make us think differently about our daily actions and envision other ways of being?

Artists presenting work in the festival include: Hakeem Adam (GH), Assembly (UK), Marija Bozinovska Jones (MK), Kate Davies (UK), Anita Fontaine (AU), Mary Maggic (CN/US)
, Maxwell Mutanda (ZW),  New Emergences (NL), Ignatia Nilam Agusta (ID), Dr Luiza Prado (BR), public works (UK) and  Sissel Marie Tonn (DK), plus more to be announced.

AND Creative Director Luke Moody says:

“After a year of navigating shifting horizons, this May AND will open a virtual portal to a festival that traces the scars of an industrial past with magical mirrors of the present and portals to possible futures. How do we experience art in a unique place without the possibility of bodily presence? How do we connect to a landscape and a community without being there? The art of unknowing is something we embrace as a festival and with our audiences; to try and fail, to experiment and unlearn, share and question.”
Further details on the film and music programme will be released over the coming months.

Visit and sign up to AND e-news for programme announcements.

AND Festival 2021 is supported using public funding by Arts Council England with additional support from British Council, Creative Industries Fund Netherlands, The Space and Film Hub North (National Lottery funding from BFI Film Audience Network). Programme partners British Library, Canal & River Trust, Culture Liverpool, Culture Warrington, Merseytravel, The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, Super Slow Way, Wigan Council, Wirral Council and York Mediale.

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