The Mancunian Way
The Mancunian Way was part of For The Time Being, A Promise of Progress public art project in 2004 at Victoria Baths and curated by Alison Kershaw. For this performance Velez worked with young local artists from Manchester and together staged a storming of this popular heritage site closed to the public in 1993.
Victoria Baths was built in 1906 at the turn of the 19th Century when Manchester was at the height of its Industrial powers and is one of the finest examples of a Municipal Edwardian swimming baths in the country. Since its closure local people campaigned to save the building.
Velez started developing The Mancunian Way performance through a series of creative workshops collaborating with young singers, rappers, dancers and craftspeople from Manchester’s representing the local population. Manchester is one of best examples of diversity in Britain today that reflect its industrial, cultural and colonial heritage.
Artist, curator and participants worked together to stage a real and symbolic parade through the streets; celebrating their identity; their link to previous generations and their local neighbourhood. Along with his young collaborators, Velez turned Victoria Baths upside down – and inside out; presenting a different view of the city to the Open Day visitors who had come to admire the stained glass!
The Mancunian Way cuts straight to the central issue of Velez’s practice and the significance of the loss of the building to the local people – who are we now? What does Manchester look like today? This is our place their Victoria Baths Anthem claims:
So Respect the genesis, the evolution of the premises
These words forever gonna stay in your memories
The nemesis is the past
We Focus on the future, but you rather act like a snake
Stare me out like medusa
This is the scripture of the everlasting picture that was painted
Just like a Picasso that art is sacred
My mamma used to swim in this pool as a youth
So embrace it the basic definition of the truth
The Storming (Cornerhouse Manchester, 2015)
The Storming was a two-part performance event devised by Humberto Vélez that closed Cornerhouse, Manchester’s art power-house since 1985, in truly spectacular style.
The performance was both a celebration, an artwork and political statement for opening the arts to a wider group of artists and audiences.
Manchester’s diverse social, cultural and artistic communities descended on the building and took over in a revolutionary fashion.
Later that evening music producer Greg Thorpe added to Vélez’s concept and created an ensemble of DJs, live musicians and performers for a Mancunian style fiesta that placed the audience as the final artwork.
Sarah Perks, Curator