HOME, Manchester’s international centre for contemporary visual art, film and theatre, is the epicentre of the city’s creative hub. Opened in 2015 as the fusion space of Library Theatre Company and Cornerhouse, it provides a home for Manchester’s creatives. Part cinema, part gallery, part theatre, part were not quite sure what, it’s a multifaceted twenty five million pound Parthenon to the arts sitting atop Tony Wilson Square; It's the Northern Powerhouse for art and culture.
The gallery space hosts a roster of annual exhibitions that are decidedly wacky; from gender-bending, acid coloured video art assaults on the senses, to graffiti-scrawled urban vistas – it feels very Manchester. None of the London-centric art snobbiness shows here – it’s not about networking, the size of your wallet or the provenance of your surname, because outside of London everyone suddenly feels (consciously) a lot more equal; something that plagues the capital. HOME does what it wants, supports the underdogs and encourages real creativity without an agenda.
A fine example of this was the exhibition held at the beginning of 2016, entitled “Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse”, a show by the award-winning British artists and filmmakers Al and Al. The duo created a show of film, drawings, installations and put on a live concert of music by the composer Philip Glass, played the BBC Philharmonic. The exhibition is a sci-fi odyssey consisting of three journeys the artist's undertook, each with a scientist; Professor Brian Greene, Alan Turing and Dr. Bart Hoogenboom, investigating a new era of scientific exploration both real and imagined. Featuring essays by these eminent scientists, alongside original film work by Al and Al, the show dissects time and space travel for humanity, investigating the possibility that maybe we are only a tiny part of a huge quantum alterative reality.
What if machines believed Alan Turing was their creator? What if Icarus flew too close to a black hole? The show reinterprets such themes through stunning space-like visuals and audible motifs of powerful scores. It’s sci-fi geeky, techy and trekky – lots of GCI visuals in silvers and blacks while word, image and sound combine to conjure imaginings of galaxies, robots and futures riddled with AI.
A publication accompanied the show – a sort of intergalactic handbook for people with an interest in bending their minds in the time space continuum. The book recalls the three journeys through Al and Al’s own images and words; along with scientific essays and illustrations that feel occult like in their mystery. It’s a clever merging of science and art – through being difficult to know where one starts and the other ends, it brings in to question the role one can afford the other. Creativity isn’t bound to either a studio or a lab and it’s the role of the creative mind to think outside the box; are the brains of scientists that different to artists after all?
HOME proves yet again with this publication that it is helping push the boundaries of where art can go and what it can achieve. Bringing together the many minds of Manchester and its diaspora of academics and artists, it helps an audience rethink what they assume to know. Free from the constraints of London’s gaze and agenda, HOME is keeping British art exciting.
Visit HOME Manchester for more information on upcoming shows and publications