Edinburgh Art Festival Announces 2018 Commissions Programme

Edinburgh Art Festival today (21 May) announced details of the 2018 Commissions Programme, which each year supports Scottish and international artists to develop ambitious new projects as part of the Festival.

Aiming to bring artists into conversation with the city, the Commissions Programme takes work out of formal gallery settings and into public spaces, often offering rare public access to key buildings or sites, and always engaging local residents and international visitors alike in citywide debates around wider social issues.

The 2018 Edinburgh Art Festival programme will feature new commissions by Shilpa Gupta, Ross Birrell & David Harding, Ruth Ewan and Adam Lewis Jacob. Collectively through music, poetry, conversation and magic these artists will invite visitors to reflect on urgent current political issues. Strategies of collaboration, orchestration and the act of close listening inform a number of the works, while freedom of expression and a questioning of our consumer culture feature prominently as themes within the programme.

The Festival will also present Platform: 2018, the fourth iteration of the Festival’s showcase of new work by early career artists based in Scotland, which this year will highlight the work of four female artists.

- Internationally renowned Indian artist Shilpa Gupta will present For, in your tongue I cannot hide: 100 Jailed Poets, a multi-channel sound installation, in the ECA Engine House. Bringing together fragments from the work of 100 poets from around the world, the work will offer a powerful reflection on freedom of expression. The installation is co-commissioned with YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku, and supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and EventScotland, with additional support from Scottish Poetry Library, PEN International and Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh.

  • - In collaboration with Marxist magician Ian Saville, Glasgow-based artist Ruth Ewan’s Sympathetic Magick will infiltrate the streets of Edinburgh with ‘political magic tricks’.
  • - Reflecting through music on themes of flight and dispossession through music, Ross Birrell & David Harding’s Triptych presents a new three channel film work and installation in the 16th century church of Trinity Apse. As a highlight of the Festival’s closing weekend, the artists will collaborate with Syrian composer/violinist Ali Moraly on a live performance in Trinity Apse.

Adam Lewis Jacob will present No Easy Answers at the Institut Français d'Écosse, an experimental moving image installation inspired by J G Ballard’s Kingdom Come, which draws on the language of advertising and retail space to reflect on Britain’s shift from an industrial producer to service provider.

Platform: 2018: Selected from an open call by artists Jonathan Owen and Hanna Tuulikki, this year the Festival’s dedicated showcase for emerging talent will feature work by four early career female artists at the City Art Centre, continuing the emphasis on work by women at all stages of their artistic career at the Festival this year.

Paul Bush, OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events: “The Commissions Programme has become an integral part of Edinburgh Art Festival and EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the commissioning of internationally renowned Indian artist Shilpa Gupta for this year’s programme. The inclusion of her installation will ensure the Festival and Scotland continues to build its international reputation as the perfect stage for visual arts.”

Sorcha Carey, Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, said: “We are delighted to share details today of our 2018 Commissions programme. Over the past ten years, the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund has supported our Festival to work with leading and emerging Scottish and international artists to open up new places and conversations in our city. This year’s programme is no exception, bringing together five artists, each with highly distinctive practices, but united by a common interest in some of the urgent social questions of our day. Our 2018 edition of Platform continues to support artists at the beginning of their careers, with four female artists from across Scotland selected to take part.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “The Edinburgh Art Festival showcases the best of Scottish visual artists and their international collaborations to locals and overseas visitors alike. It is an exciting opportunity to enhance public engagement with contemporary art, while reflecting on wider social issues through music, poetry and magic. I’m pleased that the Scottish Government continues to support the 2018 festival’s programme by providing £140,000 from the 2018 Expo Fund, enabling established and emerging artists to develop ambitious new projects to reach a wide international audience.”

For more information about the Edinburgh Art Festival Commissions Programme 2018, visit https://edinburghartfestival.com/whats-on 

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