b-side Festival announces programme led by resident and international artists

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b-side Festival announces programme led by resident and international artists
Pollution Pods by Michael Pinsky presented on Portland by Cape Farewell and b-side June 29 - July 01 2019. Photo: Rachel Dunford.

ISLE OF PORTLAND.- Cementing its status as one of the most unusual and innovative contemporary art festivals in the UK, b-side is back with an exciting, playful, and challenging programme led by Portland-based and world-renowned artists including Creatives Garage, Olivia Furber, and Ramzi Maqdisi.

Energising the cultural scene in Dorset, b-side Festival presents work from South West based creatives alongside new and established artists from across the UK and beyond. With the artwork commissioned via an international open call over two years ago, allowing the artists the time and creative space to produce site-responsive works, the festival encourages artists to take risks and make resonant connections with the Isle of Portland.

This year, b-side Festival has commissioned 14 new, unique artworks exploring the concept: ‘Common Lands’. The artworks on display will address pertinent issues concerning peoples’ right to public land, the power of community, and shared ownership of space through sensitive and often unexpected artistic methods. Aiming to ignite thought-provoking discussions, this four-day festival will feature showstopping light projections, audio installations, guided tours, sculpture, film, and immersive workshops.

Rocca Holly-Nambi, Director of b-side comments, Come and journey across the Isle of Portland, with the b-side festival - its artists and artworks as your guide. The themes within these new commissions and the island itself become a microcosm to ponder, discuss, and debate our world's pressing concerns - and opportunities - of climate change, community, human care and compassion, and the commons.

For the first time this year, a digital programme entitled That Other Place will run alongside the main festival, curated by Nairobi artists’ collective Creatives Garage. Offering visitors an online virtual world and creative play space, this alternative digital Portland will introduce audiences to new international artists and interactive events.

b-side Festival and Portland Museum have collaborated on a community-led project exploring the history, myths and legends of Church Ope Cove. Drawing from Portland Museum’s archives and community stories, artist Dan Shorten and Guildhall Live Events have created Of Sea and Stone. This 10-minute projection light show is set to music and will be spectacularly cast on the face of the 15th century Rufus Castle and the craggy cliffs below.

Artist Sadie Hennessy presents Outstanding Unnatural Beauty Parlour inspired by a map of Dorset’s ‘Designated Areas of Outstanding Beauty’, which omitted the Isle of Portland. Addressing questions about how we measure beauty, Hennessy has ironically replicated the glitz and glamour of an old Hollywood beauty parlour in a horsebox trailer. The parlour will tour the island, offering makeup tutorials led by veteran showgirl Kiki Bogof, as well as an audio installation of conversations with ex-beauty queens and carnival queens.

Inspired by the Portland community’s experience during the first lockdown, Dorset artist Sophie Fretwell will exhibit The Light House, an installation that evokes a stained-glass house featuring everyday saints from the Portland’s community.

The Land’s Heart is Greater than Its Map was conceived by artists Olivia Furber and Ramzi Maqdisi. This guided audio tour takes audiences around Portland’s “ghost tunnels” in a disused fort that was built in the 19th Century. The playful, subversive tour explores a faraway city which cannot be named and transcends time and space. It is later revealed as Jerusalem, encouraging a conversation about forbidding borders and land accessibility.

b-side is run by a collaborative team of artists, producers, and curators with extensive experience in visual arts, live art, performance, social practice, heritage, environment, and arts education. In 2012, b-side was awarded funding from Arts Council England to become a National Portfolio Organisation.

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