Manchester International Festival’s visual art offering is a matter of luck

The Jewish Museum in Manchester has just reopened after a two-year renovation. It is part of a working synagogue, where, in the upstairs gallery, 2013 Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost installed an original film titled The Long Waited, Weighted, Gathering.

It was here, historically, that women were to sit during services, not being allowed to enter the main religious space with the men below. Provoust’s film is an ode to various women who have attended the synagogue since its founding in 1874. They are reimagined in a heavenly setting, which combines a sense of the spiritual with the literal heights to which they worshiped.

Part of what makes Edinburgh the perfect location for an arts festival is the geography – with all the events pretty much off the Royal Mile. In Manchester, on the other hand, offers can seem a bit distant and disconnected. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was a thematic unity, but that’s missing too.

At the Whitworth Art Gallery, Cloud Studies is a geopolitical conference in the form of an exhibition. To be fair, the issues raised in his short film set are alarming: namely, how powerful actors are polluting the air around the world. However, one wonders if an art gallery is really the right place to raise them.

This year’s MIF is a hit and miss affair – but it’s worth pointing out for Minujín’s only Big Ben.

The Manchester International Festival runs until July 18;

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