Now in its sixth year under current artistic directors Laura Mcdermott and Harun Morrison (but originally founded by Mark Ball), Fierce Festival is a contemporary art festival based across multiple venues throughout Birmingham. Artists from all over the work have been carefully selected and curated with a focus on four themes – Live Art, Collision, Hyperlocal and Supernow. The festival nourishes its midlands roots while bringing international artists to the city, helping to push it as a creative hub.
One Five West have created an installation walk through consisting of a series of electronic objects with which the audience interact. Coloured LED’s change upon touch and movement sensors trigger strange sounds – as you traverse the objects the room adapts and morphs around in a scape of futuristic colour and sound.
Emily Mulenga’s Orange Bikini is a stunning video piece of CGI that tackles issues of the human body, gender and race – a young black girl in a bikini rides dolphins and dances on screen in a series of floating lucid lucid landscapes.
The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information is a trio from Montreal who invite the audience to select a song to play, and tell a story about why their selection is important to them. Set inside COW, a vintage shop in the Digbeth District of Birmingham, this feels a lot less “art” than the over events throughout the festival, and a lot more “community”. Its charming and humble and brings people together – as well as showing the diversity of the festival, one minute you’re alone in a basement full of flashing LED’s and the next you’re sat on a leather sofa in a shop drinking a mug of tea listening to jazz records with strangers.
Culture, Administration & Trembling are a collective of performance artists who refer to themselves as “time-based sculpture”. The performers move between live snakes, crawl on all fours with dogs on their backs, ring hand bells, hug one another and glue tiles to the floor in an hour long choreographed piece within which the audience freely move and watch. Often surreal, the work is not for the faint hearted of the art world, but shows Fierce’s dedication to championing art in all its forms and progressiveness.
Other highlight’s included Ursula Martinez’s stand up show that tackles themes of death and aging – a performance that ends with the comic naked, and Deep Aerobics with the American artist Miguel Gutierrez, in which he whips the audience in to a frenzy of screaming and running around at his command.
Fierce is a brilliantly eclectic festival, drawing crowds to Birmingham from all over. The organisers and curators have done a great job at making sure there is something for everyone, whilst being importantly engaging and championing the local on a global stage. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.
By Victoria Teads