What happens when you let a group of young people take over Manchester Art Gallery for an evening? Young people armed with hammers, wire cutters and saws.

The answer is a piece of performance art in which three different groups of people are given tours of the galleries by young people from Contact Young Company and Young Identity.

It asks some important questions about art. But it’s not as angry or controversial as you think it might be.

There are no placards or raised voices here. Instead, the performance deconstructs and reconstructs the gallery experience in drama and poetry – hence the hammers and saws.

And unlike last year, no paintings are removed from the walls, so this takeover won’t be making the news headlines any time soon.

The three tours of the galleries take place simultaneously and end up in a plenary in which the performers celebrate in music and dance.

And as you might expect in a building which hasn’t been designed for performance, the acoustics aren’t the best in the foyer where the performance starts.

Old Tools > New Masters ≠ New Futures probably isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea – especially those people who think an art gallery should be a place for the quiet contemplation of art.

But neither is Banksy. For some reason, one of his masterpieces is still on display  alongside the classic paintings you expect to see in Manchester Art Gallery.

If, on the other hand, you’ve often wondered what an art gallery is for and what should be on display, this thoughtful piece might help crystallise your views.

Old Tools > New Masters ≠ New Futures
Manchester Art Gallery
Thursday 13th June, Friday 14th, Sunday 16th June 2019 


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