Art Festival's 20th Birthday Programme

Art - new 20th logoEAF (Edinburgh Art Festival) is the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art. We are delighted to announce the first exhibitions, events, new commissions and collaborations as part of the Festival's 20th Birthday programme which will take place across the capital from 9 – 25 August 2024

For our 2024 programme, we invite audiences to join us in a moment to collectively pause and reflect upon the conditions under which we live, work, gather and resist. We will use the opportunity of our 20th Birthday to connect with historic and contemporary ways of organising that have built infrastructures of care and pioneering activist movements over the past 20 years (and beyond).

Join us as we bring household names from across the world together with those living and working in Scotland, with exhibitions ranging from rare photographs to large scale sculpture and installation; to EAF’s curated weekend performance programme in unusual spaces across the city; and PLATFORM, where four Scotland-based artists will respond directly to the themes of the 2024 programme, centering intimacy, material memory, protest and persecution.

Photo taken by Ryszard Kisiel of two people dressed in black lingerie and layering  opulent jewellery on themselves. They are relaxing on the floor of a room, one of the figures laughs while the other talks with a cigaret in their mouth. The first projects and city-wide collaborations announced are:

  • Co-commissioned by EAF and Auto Italia, Karol Radziszewski’s curated exhibition collects rare photographs and ephemera to trace the history of Filo magazine, one of the first underground queer magazines in Central-Eastern Europe founded by activist Ryszard Kisiel. Begun in response to Polish communist police’s suppression of sexual minorities, underground magazine Filo furthered activist conversations about sexuality, creativity and politics.

An orange-lit photo of Prem Sahib’s Alleus performance, showing a spiral of metal chairs populated by three singers, dressed in black and singing from sheet music.

  • As part of the weekend events programme, Prem Sahib will present their performance work Alleus, co-commissioned with Roberts Institute of Art and Somerset House Studios. The first time Sahib has worked with live vocalists, the work is a polyphony of live and pre-recorded voices.Alleus – ‘Suella’ spelled backwards – re-orders, re-directs and disrupts an anti-immigration speech by former home secretary Suella Braverman. Performed live under Edinburgh Castle in a carpark, by a group of vocalists, and with additional production developed in collaboration with artist Woodsy Bransfield, Sahib’s piece works to resist the damaging speech practices often ‘legitimised’ by politicians and echoed through society in hate speech. 

Artists living and working in Scotland are also at the centre stage of the EAF Birthday programme:

  • This year’s PLATFORM artists Alaya Ang, Edward Gwyn Jones, Tamara MacArthur and Kialy Tihngang, selected by Amal Khalaf and Eliel Jones, and EAF curator Eleanor Edmondson, will respond directly to the themes of the 2024 programme, centering intimacy, material memory, protest and persecution. 

A photo by Ibrahim Mahama, of a row of colourfully dressed people leaning against a stripped train car with visible inner working, as if pushing it along its rails. A child plays with a tyre in the foreground.

Partner galleries will present a range of exhibitions, the majority of which will be open to the public for free for the festival:

  • The first-ever solo exhibition in Scotland of the work of Ibrahim Mahama; a Ghanaian artist critically acclaimed for his evocative large-scale, site-specific installations that speak to the cultural and social effects of post-colonialism and global migration, takes place at Fruitmarket.
  • At Talbot Rice Gallery, El Anatsui’s exhibition will comprise a large selection of his iconic sculptural wall hangings, wooden reliefs and works on paper and will be the most significant exploration of El Anatsui’s practice, which spans more than five decades, ever staged in the UK.
  • Los Angeles based painter Hayley Barker will make her first exhibition in Europe at Ingleby, where landscape and nature paintings strike a seemingly impossible harmony between intimacy and grandeur, appearing simultaneously dense and intricately painted, and yet open and full of space.

A photo by from Alexander Chekmenev’s Passport series, of an older woman in a domestic setting, looking into the camera in with a white square of fabric held up behind her, as if getting a passport photo taken.
 Major institutional shows at Edinburgh’s museums and national galleries will also feature in the EAF24 programme:

  • This includes Women in Revolt! – the National Galleries of Scotland’s survey of feminist art that celebrates the women who challenged and changed the face of British culture, restaged in Scotland following its presentation at Tate Britain. 
  • At the National Museums of Scotland, a new exhibition draws on Scotland’s rich history of Cold War-era protest and activism.
  • Stills Centre for Photography presents Home: Ukrainian Photography, UK Words, a touring showcase with Ukrainian Photographies, featuring contemporary Ukrainian photographers exploring the meaning of home.

Collage photo by Tayo Adekunle showing an image of the same figure three times in different position wearing traditional African dress. The figures are layered over and behind lush foliage.

  • Meanwhile, across the city, Laura Aldridge and Andrew Sim will transform Jupiter Artland with Aldridge’s richly glazed ceramics, light, videos, textiles and sound, alongside Sim’s paintings depicting a dreamlike forest, with plants and trees growing beneath rainbows and star-studded skies.
  • Making a return to Scotland for the first time, meanwhile, will be Dovecot Studios’ major tapestry with Chris Ofili first created in Edinburgh.
  • Collective also welcomes back early committee member Moyna Flannigan for an exhibition of new work featuring collages, alongside a constellation of paper sculptures that extend the principles of collage into three-dimensional form and space. 
  • Sequoia Barnes takes viewers on an Afro-surreal retelling of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, this new body of work unravels how the consumption of cuteness perpetuates oppression and marginalisation including racialisation, infantilism, misogyny and brutality.
  • At Edinburgh Printmakers, Ade Adesina will showcase experimental prints combining inspiration from Adesina’s African roots, British culture, and travelling into international landscapes, while Tayo Adekunle repurposes the imagery of ethnographic exhibitions into a powerful commentary on the fetishisation of Black women’s bodies.
  • Collectively-run gallery Sett Studios will showcase a vibrant range of work from their member artists, alongside a solo show from their youngest member, multidisciplinary creative, textiles artist, and DJ Rory Dixon.

The Edinburgh Art Festival runs from 9 to 25 August 2024, and you can find full information HERE.

Photo Credits [from the top]

  • Ryszard Kisiel, 1985/1986. Courtesy the Queer Archives Institute and Karol Radziszewski. EAF24
  • Prem Sahib, Alleus, 2024. Commissioned by Somerset House Studios and the Roberts Institute of Art. Photo credit: Anne Tetzlaff, EAF24
  • Ibrahim Mahama. Courtesy of the SCCA and Red Clay, Tamale.
  • Alexander Chekmenev, from the Passport series, 1995.
  • Tayo Adekunle, Reclamation of the Exposition. Courtesy of the artist.
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