Entertainment & Arts

Art Sheffield: Curator Martin Clark's guide to the festival

(Clockwise from top left) Moore Street Electricity Substation, Bloc Projects, The Link, 156 Arundel Street, Site Gallery, The Roco Image copyright Jade Richardson/Art Sheffield
Image caption The festival takes in a variety of venues, including an electricity substation and a derelict pub

Art Sheffield, the city's biennial festival, has this year been given over to sound and moving image works.

The event is called Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm - the names of the six quarks that form atoms and are the basis of matter - which alludes to the way the city itself has been "explicitly activated and inhabited" by the works on show, according to curator Martin Clark.

The director of Bergen's Kunsthall, Clark has investigated some of Sheffield's more unusual spaces to show the work he has picked, spaces that have intrigued him since he was a student in the city in the early 1990s.

Below, Clark discusses six of the three-week festival's highlights.

Steven Claydon at Moore Street Electricity Substation

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionExcerpt from Steve Claydon's Infra-idol Assembly (2016)

"Moore Street Substation is a fully-functioning substation and provides most of the electricity that powers Sheffield.

"Every 10 years, it closes for three weeks for servicing, so in order to secure this site, we built the whole festival around this small window of opportunity.

"Steven Claydon's monumental work is one of three new commissions in the exhibition and housed in the vast empty 18,000 sq ft space of this iconic Brutalist landmark.

"Featuring a stickman made entirely of atoms and an electronic soundtrack that is pumped through a huge plate reverb unit - built in the city with Sheffield steel - the installation is an extraordinary and very powerful experience."

Beatrice Gibson at Bloc Projects

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionExcerpt from Beatrice Gibson's F for Fibonacci (2014)

"Beatrice Gibson's film F for Fibonacci explores the tentative connection between economics, finance and 20th Century avant garde music.

"The work might be seen to draw a parallel between ideas of chance, abstraction and risk, as they apply to the fields of music, material reality and money.

"Gibson interviewed an 11-year-old boy, who takes her on a tour of a world he has created in the computer game Minecraft."

Mark Fell at The Link

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionExcerpt from Mark Fell's Structural Solutions to the Question of Being (2016)

"Mark Fell was a perfect fit for the programme, dedicated as it is to sound and moving image.

"Based in Rotherham, he is a music producer and artist working in sound and light installation, moving image, choreography, critical texts and educational projects.

"Structural Solutions To The Question Of Being is a new site-specific installation developed by Fell, housed in the derelict Link Pub at Sheffield's infamous and imposing Brutalist housing estate Park Hill.

"The Link was notoriously the UK's third most dangerous pub, after the Scottish Queen, just around the corner and also on the Park Hill estate.

"We wanted to give the public the opportunity to experience this incredible derelict, vacant architecture, which once represented the utopian Modernist social ideals of the late 1950s and 60s."

Anna Barham at The Roco

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionExcerpt from Anna Barham's 000998146-horizontal-panning-empty-fashi_prores/böhm-on-dialogue-ch5 (2014)

"Barham presents the first UK exhibition of her video and sound work, 000998146-horizontal-panning-empty-fashi_prores/bohm-on-dialogue-ch5.

"The work was created by corrupting the code of a jpeg image of an empty fashion catwalk, interrupting it with passages drawn from the book On Dialogue by quantum physicist David Böhm.

"When the jpeg is viewed as an image, this insertion of language into the code produces various distortions, with shift, colour, panning and sound all generated at the structural level of the image.

"The title of this Art Sheffield is taken from the names of quarks. Barham's film speaks directly to this idea of the structure or code that lies behind our material world."

Hannah Sawtell at Site Gallery

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHannah Sawtell's @dividend_plus (2016)

"In the 90s, Hannah Sawtell was a key figure in the Detroit electronic music scene and since then, has moved towards work which encompasses electronic sound, installation and digital video and animation.

"Sawtell is interested in vocabularies of access and excess, how images and objects are made and circulate in a global and technologically-advanced economy.

"She has created Dividend, a 'people's currency' for Sheffield, modelled on alternative crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and made available through an open source application of her own design.

"When Dividend currency is exchanged online, it triggers an algorithm that directly affects the visual content of the centrepiece of the exhibition."

Scratch Video at 156 Arundel Street

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionExcerpt from Duvet Brothers' Blue Monday (1984) Courtesy of LUX

"The malleability of the VCR format liberated artists in a way often compared to the record-scratching of hip-hop - leading to the coining of the term 'scratch video'.

"This is particularly relevant to Sheffield since Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) was an early adopter of these video-editing suites.

"Frequently humorous, often overtly political, this work was distributed via video cassette and screened in clubs or as concert visuals for Sheffield-based bands like Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League.

"The works hold a particular resonance for me since I was a student at Psalter Lane art school in the 1990s and used those same video edit suites."

Art Sheffield 2016 runs at various venues around the city until 8 May.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites