IF THE art world often leaves you feeling bewildered and resentful, you’re not alone. Ever itched to add your own splat to Jackson Pollock’s $140m Number 5? Or spend a penny in Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (whose replica urinal alone sold for $1.7m)? Well now’s your chance to get revenge, with a one-night event designed to challenge contentious notions of value in art and open up the debate around ‘preciousness’. How? By throwing darts at original masterpieces, surrounded by the treasures of the Whitworth.
D’Arts Festival brings together local darts teams and leading artists for a tournament that’s truly unique
As visual artist and D’Arts founder Jai Redman comments: "There has always been a lively debate about art’s worth. We all have our own views about what constitutes a national treasure. You’ll get politely asked to step away from a Grand Master’s painting in any gallery if you get too close, but you’ll also get in trouble if you try to bounce on Tracey Emin’s bed.
"I love that we all enjoy the debate, even if we don’t always appreciate the object. It’s a small step from there to having a proper darts competition in an art gallery".
The evening is part of Manchester After Hours Festival, a mixology of odd combos and unexpected couplings as part of countrywide initiative Museums at Night. Produced by Engine - in collaboration with the Whitworth, A180 Darts, Manchester Pale Ale, Creative Tourist, Arts Council England and Culture24 - D’Arts Festival brings together local darts teams and leading artists for a tournament that’s truly unique.
Four professional artists (Redman, Mary Griffiths and Joe Hartley in collaboration with Rob Bailey) have created specially-commissioned oches, which seek inspiration from the Whitworth's diverse collection. These will be used to mount the dart boards at which participants take aim - miss and they damage an original piece of art. Which is of course the point.
Darts teams of five are being encouraged to enter: it costs £20 per team, with the chance to win £500 and £250 for runners up. The competition will run along the 501 ‘Best of 3’ format and is free to watch for spectators on a first come first served basis.
A bar selling Manchester Pale Ale will be supplied by local brewery JW Lees, as well as a host of pub-themed activities throughout the rest of the Whitworth’s gallery spaces. To ensure everyone catches the winning throw, the darts finale at 10pm will be screened live.
Whitworth Director Dr Maria Balshaw said: “The Whitworth is delighted to work with the dynamic team at Engine on D'Arts Festival for Museums at Night. It's almost twelve months since we won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year prize for our engagement with local communities while closed for redevelopment, and we continue to look for bold and challenging ways of engaging new, diverse audiences. In this spirit, we look forward to welcoming the darts teams, fans and Manchester artists to our Grand Hall in May for this exciting collaboration”.
D’Arts Festival takes place on Thursday 12 May at the Whitworth. The event starts at 7pm, with doors opening at 6pm and the grand finale at 10pm. For more information, or to enter, see eventbrite.co.uk