What Is the City but the People?
Created by the People of Manchester. In association with Islington Mill
Thu 29 June, 2017
- About the show
- Creative team
2017's Festival opened with an invitation – for everyone to come to Piccadilly Gardens and join friends, neighbours and total strangers for this self-portrait of the city.
Raised high above the pavements, a unique selection of individuals from across Manchester walked along a runway stretching more than 100 metres through Piccadilly Gardens.
All eyes were on the people of Manchester as they become the opening event of the Festival.
With live music from Graham Massey assisted by an unexpected mix of local musicians, What Is the City but the People? captured and celebrated Manchester as never before.
Commissioned by Manchester International Festival. Supported by Arts Council England's Ambition for Excellence and My Festival Circle.
What Is the City but the People? can be found internationally on 15th September in Utrecht, Netherlands as the opening event to Uitfeest 2018.
Image credits: Tarnished Vision
This is a beautifully simple idea from Deller... a piece tapping deep into the power of public spaces to generate fleeting human connections between strangers. For many participants, it was more than a parade: it was an act of self-affirmation.
Set in Piccadilly Gardens, devised by the ever-quotidian Jeremy Deller, What Is the City but the People? was nothing more complicated than a parade of Manchester folk and their stories, but it was mounted with care and precision, and it did something to me that hasn’t happened at MIF before. It made me cry.
Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times
Proud Mancs strut their stuff on the catwalk at the spectacular launch of the Manchester International Festival. This was the flesh, bones, heart and soul of Manchester in all its pulsating, exciting glory.
Manchester Evening News
Several thousand turned up in the square to watch for free: laughing, whooping and sometimes weeping at the diverse inhabitants of the reliably rainy city.
A platform that normally celebrates superficial appearance is instead used to celebrate the everyday brilliance and resilience of the people of the city. And it’s more beautiful than any fashion show. Beautiful, heartwarming and life-affirming.
This was not about superficial beauty. Instead, the show captured the rich, diverse tapestry of people who underlie everyday life in the city.
From an idea by Jeremy Deller
Richard Gregory Director
Simon Banham Designer
Graham Massey Musical Director
Sonia Hughes Writer
Gavin Parry Photographer