West Gallery in Queens' CollegeQUEENS' ARTS FESTIVAL

This year's instalment of Queens’ Arts Festival, themed 'Intersect', brings with it an expansion in the size and scope of the event. Designed to ‘take over [the] college’, the festival seeks to create a fluid exhibition - complemented by a week of events alongside the main exhibition. 

"Variety has been embedded into the heart of the festival"

The theme was chosen for its versatility, with co-director Iman Khakoo highlighting the multiple associations linked to its meaning. This variety was something the team felt would bring more depth to the festival, with the openness for interpretation enabling artists to have greater creative expression. The result is an eclectic exhibition, an amalgamation of different lives and experiences which, in turn, gives a 'vibrancy and colour’ to the exhibition. Khakoo drew attention the 'interesting play' between interpretations of the theme found in the works, with the contrast between literal and personal responses creating a 'jarring but fun' relationship between the pieces of art.

Khakoo also highlighted the ‘political edge’ of intersectionality, with the artwork exhibited taking inspiration from different of lives and experiences across the student body. At the same time, the exhibition space becomes a ‘common ground’, a place in which visitors and artists are able to relate through their different experiences.

The exhibition, the backbone of the festival, has been conceived as a fluid space. This can be felt in the multidisciplinary nature of the artwork, which spreads across a range of mediums. Khakoo highlights Living Together, a site-specific, dialogical multi-piece installation, as an example of the diversity of styles to be found at the festival. As a piece intended to be displayed in places of higher education, reflecting on the gendered dynamics of academia in art, it is able to interrogate the space. when will things change?, a graphic score, provides the opportunity for performance art to come to the Fitzpatrick Hall, with Khakoo hoping that this performative element will allow visitors to relive different moments in time.

'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman'ZOE MATT-WILLIAMS

Alongside the exhibition, the festival will host a series of talks, events and workshops which aim to give texture and depth to the festival by offering different perspectives. Considering the Eurocentric nature of Cambridge degrees and their Western focus, Khakoo explained that the festival wanted to create a space which was “more interesting, more alternative and more current”. This aim is reflected in the choice of speakers, including a talk from British artists The Singh Twins on their latest series of artworks ‘Slaves of Fashion’ - which explores the interconnected narratives around the history of trade and Indian textiles. Artists from LDN WMN will be in discussion with the curator from Downing College’s Heong Gallery, exploring their creative practices and the public artworks they created to mark 100 years since the first women in Britain won the right to vote.

The festival’s aims of diversity and inclusion extend into their fundraising partnership with SolidariTee, with Khakoo praising the charity for ‘unapologetically’ supporting refugees through their bold works of art. New posters from the charity will be displayed at the gallery, a visual reminder of the ability to show support through art.

'Train View'JOANA PINTO

The arts festival comes at a time when the student art scene within Cambridge has really taken off, with artists from both the city’s universities contributing to the festival. The emergence of more spaces linked to art is something Khakoo feels has made the art world in Cambridge more accessible and the festival is keen to appeal to all students, regardless of their current knowledge of art.

By placing intersection at the heart of the festival, the directors seek to achieve dynamism and fluidity. It is clear that variety has been embedded into the heart of the festival, resulting in a stimulating week of activities for all.


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Queens’ Arts Festival runs from the 2nd-10th March, with the opening night taking place from 7-11pm in the West Gallery at Queens’ College.

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