Manchester International 2019: David Lynch, Janelle Monáe & more

Other artists taking part in Manchester International Festival this year include Yoko Ono, Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott, and much more

Article by Jamie Dunn | 07 Mar 2019
  • MIF19

Manchester International Festival has unveiled its 2019 programme, and the first event to catch the eye is that legendary filmmaker David Lynch will be taking over Manchester’s great multi-arts venue HOME for the duration of the festival, providing art, music and film throughout MI19.  

HOME’s gallery space will be given over to My Head Is Disconnected, an exhibition of Lynch’s large-scale paintings, drawings and sculptures. Lynch collaborator Chrysta Bell, who calls the artist, musician and filmmaker “my mentor in art, music and life”, will host a series of live shows by musicians who’ve been inspired by Lynch over the years. And the man’s celebrated moving-image work will also be on show in HOME’s cinema space, with screenings of his classic movies and short films along with conversations putting Lynch’s films in sharp context.

Music: Janelle Monáe, Holly Herndon, Skepta

Lynch isn’t the only internationally renowned artist to be name-checked in today’s Manchester International announcement. The mighty Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer and actress Janelle Monáe will perform on the opening night of MIF19 at Castlefield Bowl (4 Jul), and there’s more kickass female artists planned for Mary Anne Hobbs’ Queens of the Electric Underground (20 Jul, O2 Ritz), a night featuring a lineup of all-female electronic artists including Jlin, Holly Herndon, Aïsha Devi ft MFO, Klara Lewis, Katie Gately and Hobbs herself on DJ duty.

Grime star Skepta also features with live music experience DYSTOPIA987, which we’re told will “reimagine the rave culture of the past in an uncertain future” via a run of intimate and immersive gigs at secret locations across Manchester (it is, unfortunately, already sold out). And the legendary Laurie Anderson will be in residence with new project To The Moon, an expanded virtual reality work she is developing with the artist Hsin-Chien Huang, featuring a VR experience and an immersive installation (11-20 Jul, The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre).

Maxine Peake as Nico, Yoko Ono's BELLS FOR PEACE

The great composer Philip Glass (a MIF regular) teams up with Phelim McDermott for what’s described as “their most personal collaboration yet”: Tao of Glass, a meditation on life, death and wisdom (11-20 Jul, Royal Exchange Theatre). Maxine Peake and Sarah Frankcom – the pair presented The Skriker at MIF15 – are back too with The Nico Project, a celebration of the legacy of the legendary Velvet Underground singer and muse Nico. We’re told it’ll take the form of a “theatrical immersion into her sound and identity.” (10-21 Jul, Stoller Hall) 

The last MIF began with the epic What Is the City But the People?, and this year’s festival will kick off with another mass-participatory event: BELLS FOR PEACE, devised by Yoko Ono. We’re told it’ll be “a gathering of thousands of people coming together to ring and sing out for peace in Cathedral Gardens, in the heart of the city.”

MIF Artistic Director John McGrath notes: “At MIF19 we see a whole host of artists looking to the future – some with hope, some with imagination and some with concern. We never impose themes on the artists we work with, but it’s striking how this year’s programme reflects our complicated times in often surprisingly joyous and unexpected ways. Featuring artists from more than 20 countries, the Festival also has strong local roots, with several commissions featuring the people of Manchester as participants. MIF19 will be a feast of energy, which I hope will inspire debate and delight for the festival’s 18 days and far beyond.”

Manchester International takes place 4-21 July. For full programme details and tickets, head to