MIF 2019: Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ)

Imagine a city in which animals of all kinds, including humanz, would live together in peace. What might life be like if dogs, hogs, cows, squirrels and other creatures lived alongside us not just as our pets but as our peers – our companions? Imagine what Manchester could look like then!

Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ) is an interactive Live Art experience created by Sibylle Peters (Theatre of Research) and LADA for the Manchester International Festival 2019 which poses questions about the relationship between humans and other animals.

Taking place over the Festival’s final weekend, audiences are invited to follow a trail through Whitworth Park and the Whitworth’s galleries, and take part in some absorbing animal encounters. Across a series of installations and performances, children, families and adults alike will explore our fascination with fellow animals, pledging allegiance to another species, having family portraits with other creatures and discovering more about the relationship between human and non humans.

Works include Joshua Sofaer’s Mouse Palace, a reconstruction of a popular Chinese attraction in mouse and human-sized forms; a Town Hall (Standing Conference of Animals) for cows, microbes and pigeons created by Theatre of ResearchAnsuman BiswasAndy Field & Beckie Darlington, and Esther Pilkington & Daniel Ladnar (random people); Angela Bartram’s Human School where dogs teach humanz; Pet Workshops (for Human Students) with Krõõt Juurak and Alex Bailey; Nuts House, an edible Arndale Centre for squirrels and birds by Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson (London Fieldworks); Memorials for Extinct Species by Marcus Coates and Adam O’Riordan; The BeetleFilmTheatre with artist Tim Spooner and scientist Dmitri Logunov; The Hedgehog Hospital with artist Rebecca Chesney and Barbara Roberts of the Withington Hedgehog Care Trust; an Interspecies Family Portrait Studio with photographer Benji Reid; an Aquarium for small humanz who want to be bitten by sharks by Martin O’Brien; a Bestiary Beauty Parlour for humanz to signify their animalship with Katharina Duve; a Pantheon of Performing Animals; a Life Art Library exploring the history of animals in art in books and films; and Performing Animals Lectures where animals are honoured as artists with Antony Hall, Laura Cull O Maoilearca, Jack Ashby, Kira O’Reilly, David Weber-Krebs & Maximillian Haas, and Kerry Morrison.

With children collaborating as facilitators and ambassadors for the works, Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ) follows on from Theatre of Research and LADA‘s projects with children at their core, including PLAYING UP and KAPUTT: The Academy of Destruction.

This summer we will invite everyone to turn into animals of Manchester alongside squirrels and dogs, cows and beetles and pigeons and many more. In the every day humans meet our co-species less and less, and I think we are actually missing them. So, with the guidance of our collaborating kids and my partners at MIF and the Live Art Development Agency we will turn Live Art into Life Art and create a zone of companionship in which humans and other animals can be together without food chains or zoo cages getting between us.” Sibylle Peters

Animals of Manchester will be a joyous and thoroughly unexpected exploration of our relationships with animals. The artist Sybille Peters has been working in truly unique ways with young people and their stories and ideas for many years and has created some of the most extraordinary and engaging projects for children and families around Europe. We’re delighted to be joined by the range of unexpected artists that she has invited to be part of this project with her. The day itself will be full of surprises and a truly enjoyable adventure.” John McGrath, Director of MIF

Download the brochure of MIF 2019’s full programme here, and the programme for Animals of Manchester (including Humanz) here.

The Works:

Mouse Palace (for mice and humanz)

Main Entrance
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00
The Mouse Palace is a collaboration between the artist Joshua Sofaer, the mice Nibbles, George and Halloween and the designers of How About Studio. It is inspired by a Mouse Palace which was made almost 200 years ago in China. Children loved to watch the mice running about in their palace. Joshua’s giant Mouse Palace gives you the chance to watch humanz just the same way.


Nuts House (picnicking in the Arndale Centre)

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00
The artists of London Fieldworks often recreate human architecture to provide housing for animals. The Nuts House is Manchester’s Arndale Centre re-imagined as a picnic, dedicated to the squirrels and birds in Whitworth Park.  Did you know, that birds often don’t find enough to eat these days, even in the summer, because there are fewer and fewer insects around?


Town Hall (Standing Conference of Animals)

The mayors of our alternative city are cows who live at Wythenshaw Park Community Farm. In the Town Hall they host the Standing Conference of Animals where alliances of animals from microbes to pigeons to humanz from our partnering schools, make their case for equality and companionship. What could an assembly of animals (including humanz) look like? Come in and find out.

Over the weekend the Standing Conference will create the Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ)  Report on how we can improve relationships between species in Manchester. For the Report our scribe David Caines will collect everyone’s findings and suggestions. Please join our daily open Town Hall meetings and share your ideas.

With artists Ansuman Biswas, Sibylle Peters & Christopher Weymann (Theatre of Research), Andy Field & Beckie Darlington, Esther Pilkington & Daniel Ladnar (random people), Marcus Coates & Adam O’Riordan, kids from the Greater Manchester Home Educators and students of Holy Trinity Primary School.

See the Town Hall Schedule here.


Memorials for extinct species

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

The artist Marcus Coates often creates works about species which are extinct because of the impact of humanz. Together with kids from the Greater Manchester Home Educators and poet Adam O’Riordan they have been building memorial structures inscribed with their poems to commemorate the loss of species. You are welcome to join in and write your own epitaph for a species you will never share the Earth with.


Standing conference of animals – Extinct Species

Sunday 21 July 2019
14.00 – 16.00


The Hedgehog Hospital & Hedgehog Manifesto

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

The Withington Hedgehog Care Trust was established by Barbara Roberts in 2001. Together with Wendy Gibson and her family she opened a hospital for hundreds of orphaned hedgehogs in her Withington home. They know more about hedgehogs than anyone else. Come in and find out!

Barbara and her team worked with the artist Rebecca Chesney to publish The Hedgehog Manifesto, a call to arms to protect the hedgehogs of Manchester.


Interspecies Family Portrait Studio

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00
Making kin: some families already live together as animals of Manchester (including humanz). The Interspecies Family Portrait Studio run by artist Benji Reid documents the beauty of families with different kinds of members – all species, all genders, all ages welcome.


Human School (be your dog!)

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
Workshops are taking place at 10.30 and 14.00 each day
To find out what human students learned from dogs, come back to watch their shows at 12.00 and 15.30 each

Inspired by her own dog, the artist Angela Bartram turns the concept of the dog school around. Here, she asks the dogs to be the teachers, showing us how to become a part of the pack, connect across companion species and to be more ‘dog.’ On the first day of Animals of Manchester (including HUMANZ)  students of the Human School are bringing their own dogs to explore their relationship on a connected and empathetic level. On the second day, Angela has invited dogs from Dogs4Rescue for human students to experience companionship with and to get to know. Would you like to sign up for a workshop? Please talk to one of our volunteers.


The BeetleFilmTheatre

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

For the BeetleFilmTheatre the insects of Whithworth Park are making a film in collaboration with Tim Spooner, an artist who specialises in the beauty of the tiny, and Dmitri Logunov, the beetles expert from Manchester Museum.  You can watch their movie live inside the theatre, as it is being filmed outside.


Pet Workshop (for Human Students)

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
Workshop at 11.00, 12.30, 14.00 and 15.30 each day

Krõõt Juurak and Alex Bailey often perform for pets. They figure that pets have to perform for their humanz a lot, so why not perform for them for a change? For their newest project Pet Workshop (for Human Students) they invited pets to share their special skills in a workshop format. What can humanz learn from pets? What kind of teachers can pets be? Find out in these workshops taught by a variety of pets, open for everyone – no need to sign up.


The Way of the Shark (for small Humanz who want to be bitten by sharks)

The Whitworth
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

If humanz wave their privilege and all species are equal, this raises a few questions about the vacant spot on top of the food chain: who is going to take their place when humanz resign? The artist Martin O’Brien loves sharks and wants to collaborate with them for Animals of Manchester (including humanz). But there are no sharks in Manchester, or are there?


A Pantheon of Performing Animals

The Whitworth
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

Artists and other experts celebrate inspiring and unusual animals as artists.


Performing Animals Lectures

The Whitworth
Talks by artists and other experts about their favourite animals as artists.
Hosted by Karin Harasser and Ambassadors from Claremont Primary School.

Saturday 20 July 2019
11.00 Antony Hall (artist) on the Black Ghost Knife Fish
12.00 Laura Cull O Maoilearca (teacher) on the Beluga Whale
13.00 Jack Ashby (Zoologist) on the Cuttlefish

Sunday 21 July 2019
13.00 Kira O’Reilly (artist) on the Leaf Frog (in Manchester Museum Vivarium)
14.00 David Weber-Krebs and Maximillian Haas (artists) on the Donkey
15.00 Kerry Morrison (artist) on the Feral Honeybee

Performing Animals Lectures are dedicated to the memory of Katherine Araniello (1965 – 2019), artist and original Animals of Manchester collaborator, who created many performances with her beloved chihuahuas Pippa, Lucy and Dennis.


Animalship Registration

The Whitworth
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

Are you an animal of Manchester too? Would you like to become a citizen of our alternative city? Claim your animalship here! Which co-species have you encountered? What can you tell us about your companion animals? Share your ideas for better interspecies relationships in Manchester!  Artists from Theatre of Research and Live Art Development Agency will help you be he(a)rd.


Bestiary Beauty Parlour

The Whitworth
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

If you have claimed your animalship you are invited to signify your animal being and find your animalship token. Think of the animal you are and find something to let it shine. The costume artist Katharina Duve has a selection of styles prepared for you.


Life Art Library

The Whitworth
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July 2019
10.00 – 17.00

Discover more about animals and Live Art in books for children and adult humanz exploring animals and art, and films by artists featuring animals performing as, or in, works of art:

Donna Conlon
Coexistence (2003)
A parade of leaf-cutter ants carry artificial leaves painted as flags of different nations and peace signs

Joseph Beuys
I Like America and America Likes Me (1974)
The artist is locked in a gallery in New York City with a coyote for three days © DACS 2019

David Weber Krebs
Balthazar (2011 -)
A donkey choreographs a group of dancers

Farmer Derek Klingenberg
Serenading the cattle with my trombone (2014)
A farmer calls his cattle by playing his trombone to them

Jack Tan
Four Legs Good (2018)
A revival of medieval animal trials featuring Snoopy the Jack Russell terrier in court for sheep worrying

Art by Animals (2012)
Watch apes and elephants master human art
This film was created alongside the 2012 exhibition Art by Animals at the Grant Museum of Zoology,  UCL

Albert Vidal
Urban Man (1983-4)
The artist co-habits with animals in cages in zoos around the world
1” and 2”

Kira O’Reilly
Falling Asleep With A Pig (2012)
The artist shares a living space with Deliah the pig for 72 hours
Commissioned by Arts Catalyst. Supporters: Arts Council England and Darwin 200. Touring exhibition partners A Foundation, London and Cornerhouse (HOME), Manchester. Film Credit: Rob La Frenais (filming)

Laura Lima
Goat Cut Piece (2001)
The artist collaborates with a goat to re-enact performance artist Yoko Ono’s famous work from 1964, Cut Piece

Brandon Ballengee
Love Motel for Insects (2005 -)
Public installations designed to construct interactions between humans and arthropods such as moths, beetles, caddisflies, ants and lacewings

Yann Marussich
Portrait in an Anthill (2003)
The artist lies motionless for five hours in a glass container that he shares with a colony of ants

Banner image credit:

Animals of Manchester (Including HUMANZ), City Map

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