Night of Festivals brings the world to Nottingham as part of 2012 Olympic Games

By Ben Miller | 18 June 2012
A photo of a large sculpted head of a carnival puppet in a dark sky
© Anthony Hopwood
Festival: Night of Festivals, various venues, Nottingham, June 21-23 2012

It’s got a new film by master opera composer Michael Nyman, a shimmering Brazilian samba straight from Rio and a one-on-one music performance by BAFTA-winner Emily Barker which is off to the Venice Biennial soon.

But the team behind the Night of Festivals almost saw their plans to involve two Haitian artists – Andre Eugene and Jean Herard Celeur, who are making a 3.5-metre high totem outside the city's Council House which weighs 800kg – scuppered entirely.

“We were seriously worried whether the project would be able to go ahead,” says David Hill, of co-organisers Art Reach, reflecting on the Visa hitches and various obstacles which nearly stopped the pair in their tracks as they made for the Midlands from their post-earthquake homeland.

“They’ve been brought over because of the amazing work they do using recycled scrap from old cars and domestic electrical equipment, but it seemed as if the logistics were becoming too tortuous for us to overcome. The whole process was a nightmare.”

Eugene and Celeur’s art studio, Atiz Rezistans in Port au Prince, took a direct hit from the earthquake, and they had to bus more than 100 miles to the Dominican Republic. The paperwork was rubberstamped in the Jamaican capital of Kingston.

Then there were more problems with the band who will be shaking their stuff through the first ever UK procession of the Rara, a Haitian tradition with roots in the rebellion of Caribbean slaves and “anarchic undertones”.

“No-one in Haiti knew their birthdays, so they were unable to fill in their Visas correctly,” says Hill.

“But we are confident we will be able to deliver a fantastic, colourful three-day free event, with a glimpse of the spectacular carnivals that places like Haiti hold, here in Nottingham.”

That aim should be helped by an 18-foot high skeleton (courtesy of the Mandinga Arts and Padaiso Samba Carnival), not to mention films on the world’s smallest moving image gallery, artworks in the Big Screen Gallery, a Storytelling Tent and the central towering totem.

Part of the London 2012 Festival and backed by the likes of City Art Nottingham, Nottingham Contemporary and the New Art Exchange, it also features live music and a closing set from DJ Gilles Peterson.

More pictures:

A photo of a colourful sculpture of a tall puppet walking through city centre crowds
A Pacha Mama procession will be overseen by Mandinga Arts© Anthony Hopwood
A photo of a performance artist walking through an urban film set
Haitian artist Andre Eugene appears courtesy of a lengthy Visa process© Anthony Hopwood
A black and white photo of a composer sitting on a black chair gazing into the camera
A new piece by Michael Nyman, perhaps best known for his soundtrack to 1993 film The Piano, features© Anthony Hopwood
A photo of a colourful, towering carnival procession passing beneath a night sky
Mandinga Arts© Anthony Hopwood
A photo of a group of people in flamboyant yellow, purple and red carnival outfits
Arts Council England and Legacy Trust UK are among the key funders of the colourful festival© Anthony Hopwood
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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