Linton Kwesi Johnson and gal-dem join Young Fathers and Charlotte Church for state-of-the-nation festival
As Britain gets set to begin negotiations to exit the European Union, full details have been announced for Where Are We Now?, a new festival of mischief-making, hip-hop, music, film, poetry, dancing and more, which promises to be as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.
Produced by avant-garde art collective and cultural rabble-rousers Neu! Reekie!, Where Are We Now? takes place at venues around Hull from Friday 2 to Saturday 4 June. Especially commissioned for Hull UK City of Culture 2017, this new festival sees musicians, artists, writers, film-makers and thinkers coming together from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for an urgent state-of-the-nation appraisal.
Award-winning dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and radical magazine collective gal-dem have been added to the eclectic line-up, which includes Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers; singer and campaigner Charlotte Church; rappers Akala and Chester P; artistic maverick Bill Drummond; and Japan-residing pop oddball Momus.
Also heading to the city for the event are: A Love From Outer Space with DJs Andrew Weatherall and Hull-born Sean Johnston; artist and punk pioneer Jamie Reid; poet Hollie McNish; hip-hop band The Four Owls; acclaimed film-maker Mark Cousins; poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz; and director and cinematographer Anthony Baxter.
A gathering of time-served trouble-makers, spoken word rebels, artistic mavericks and leftfield music pioneers.
– Neu! Reekie!
Where Are We Now? is about bringing people to have a good time and getting them excited, but also getting them thinking, exchanging ideas and enthusiasms and harnessing the potential of their collective energy.
The Neu! Reekie! manifesto for the festival:
“Where Are We Now?’ will be a summer festival like no other: a gathering of time-served trouble-makers, spoken word rebels, artistic mavericks and leftfield music pioneers. We’ll be converging on the city of Hull to ask of today’s counter-culture the soaring, searching question with which David Bowie kissed us goodbye.
“The UK has reached a crossroads. Where it goes next is anyone’s guess. Dark divisive forces of racism and prejudice are stirring across the UK (and Europe) in the wake of Brexit and across the Atlantic following the election of Donald Trump. We need to ask our artists, musicians and writers where they stand.
“For detached hipster unicyclists or stay-at-home clicktavists this may not be your time or place for we promise to ruffle feathers, take to the streets, challenge the dominant narratives, and counterpose Love to Hate.
“Convening the radical fusion will be one of the UK’s most acclaimed and exciting artistic collectives. With counter-cultural roots going back through the last 25 years – to the legendary Rebel Inc publishing house – Neu! Reekie! intend to take the pulse of the cultural resistance across the UK and its four nations. And have some fun involving the good people of Hull.
“Come together. Ask questions. Listen and watch. Dance. Shake things up.”
We promise to ruffle feathers, take to the streets, challenge the dominant narratives.
– Neu! Reekie!
Events on Friday 2 June:
Artist Jamie Reid, famed for his work with the Sex Pistols and Pussy Riot, will present a site-specific wall collage foraged from his 45-year career. Reid’s wall collages are nominally unplanned but will be done with flintlocks cocked and one eye on the exit.
Singer-songwriter and artistic provocateur Momus will present his tribute to David Bowie, one of the inspirations for Where Are We Now?. Momus is bringing Dybbuk, his cabaret show, which explores Bowie’s early career through film and visual art.
gal-dem, a magazine and creative collective made up of women of colour, will host a female-only gal-dem bedroom: what’s in a safe space? at Früit. Recently gal-dem has curated a V&A Friday Late and received plaudits from across the publishing industry.
On Friday evening, Hull City Hall will host Where Are We Now? #1 in which Neu! Reekie! will welcome Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers; pop and political powerhouse Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon; and spoken word sensation Hollie McNish.
Joining the line-up for Where Are We Now? #1 on Friday night will be award-winning dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Highly political and at the forefront of counterculture since the 1970s, when Race Today published his first collection of poetry, he has gone on to have four more books published and in 2002 become only the second living poet to have his work included in Penguin’s Modern Classics series.
The evening will also include a formidable short film showcase featuring: UK Bafta-winning animators Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson; and Bristol-born but Hull-based Michael Barnes-Wynters, who founded the influential ‘doodlebug’ arts platform.
The first day of the festival will draw to a close at Früit with internationally renowned club night A Love From Outer Space, which was created by acclaimed DJs Andrew Weatherall and Hull-born Sean Johnston.
Events on Saturday 3 June:
Saturday’s events will focus on UK hip-hop culture, a genre-defying art-form that is constantly evolving and reacting to contemporary culture.
Throughout the day, Where Are We Now? will host free hip-hop workshops on MCing, breakdancing, graffiti art, turntablism and music production led by Yorkshire and the North of England’s leading practitioners. Workshops will be hosted by: the founders of Leeds-based Breakin’ Rawgina and Beanz; King Monk who regularly delivers workshops in illustration, pottery, sculpture and history related to hip-hop culture; members of Sheffield’s Smash Proof Movement Trik9 and Kisk; six-time turntablist champion DJ Rasp; one of the UK’s most exciting new producers Agent M; and accomplished Liverpool MC Nikki Blaze.
UK hip-hop legend, Rodney P will present his film The Hip-Hop World News, which discusses hip-hop’s place in world events. Including interviews with Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Def Jam’s Russell Simmons, New York rapper Rakim, The Hip-Hop World News is an urgent film which addresses the world’s major political issues through hip-hop. The screening will feature a live performance from Scottish rapper, Loki.
Following the workshops, Stage @The Dock will host a two-hour Hip-Hop Jam, a whirlwind of hip-hop culture featuring some of the most significant voices of UK hip-hop: Chester P 5 Work Freestyle Challenge, Scorzayzee, Amy True, Booth Boxers, The Flow 500 UK Cypher, DJ Rasp and a B-boy battle between Leeds the Way and Hard Knox Crew.
Vue Cinema at Princes Quay will host a screening of Mark Cousins’ stunning film I Am Belfast. The film portrays a dreamlike evocation of Belfast and has won global acclaim and was recently awarded The Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative Filmmaking.
Saturday will end with Where Are We Now? #2, showcasing some of the most influential and exciting hip-hop artists in the UK.. Curated by Neu! Reekie! and Hull music promoter Altu ‘Flowrex’ Collingwood at The Welly, the line-up includes Akala, The Four Owls, Eva Lazarus and Stanley Odd. The leading lights of Hull’s hip-hop scene Chiedu and DeezKid, Redeye, Clarksman, PlayaOne and DJ Fast T are also set to appear, with additional DJ sets from Steg G and DJ Toots & The Don.
Events on Sunday 4 June:
Hull will welcome award-winning playwright Sabrina Mahfouz and spoken word sensation Hollie McNish for a discussion on poetry and the sex industry. Sabrina has recently published a collection How You Might Know Me which explores four women’s lives, connected through their experience in different areas of the UK’s growing sex industry.
One of the UK’s premier artistic provocateurs Bill Drummond will take up residency throughout Where Are We Now?, working as a shoeshine boy in the city. In The Bill Drummond Lecture on Sunday afternoon, he will share his findings on the UK City of Culture.
Writers John Andrews, Will Burns, Martha Sprackland and Adelle Stripe will take look back at 10 years of influential DIY collective in Caught By The River Revue. Collectively, each Caught By The River event, essay or publication sees disparate strands of creativity coming together, creating an outlook on the world which is full of endless discovery, innovation and joy.
Where Are We Now? will screen Anthony’s Baxter’s You’ve Been Trumped Too, the follow-up to his 2011 documentary. Exploring Donald Trump’s battle with Aberdeenshire residents over his golf course, this new documentary follows elderly widow Molly Forbes after Trump’s building workers cut off her water supply.
Where Are We Now? will come to a close with a party at the Adelphi, hosted by Edinburgh DJs FiniTribe, a chance for festival-goers to toast the ghosts of the festival.
Where Are We Now? is part of the Hull 2017 Roots & Routes season and is one of four weekend festivals due to take place this year that focus on contemporary political, social and cultural issues. The first was WOW (Women of the World) Hull (10 – 12 March), which focused on gender equality in a politically turbulent world; Freedom and Freedoms in a global context (1-4 September) including Bob and Roberta Smith’s summer takeover of Hull School of Art and Design as a Centre for Freedom of Expression; and Substance (8-10 December), which will focus on the cultural significance of the North.