51zero Festival’s Opening Ceremony at Rochester Cathedral Crypt in 2017. Image by Keith Greenfield






51zero/festival 2019 Imge: Finite, Infinite.

51zero/festival 2019
Rochester and Canterbury

Artists, thinkers, musicians and filmmakers, whose production is between contemporary art and cinema, operating on a local and international level, are presented across Rochester and Canterbury. 

Launch Fri 25th Oct, Rochester Cathedral Crypt, 7/9pm

>  Fri 25th Oct – Sun 3rd Nov – Rochester

Fri 8th Nov – Sun 17th Nov – Canterbury

We are proud to announce the next edition of 51zero Festival, opening on the 25th October in Kent, England. Named after the geographical coordinates of Medway, Kent, 51zero Festival takes over historical and cultural spaces in both Rochester and Canterbury, presenting a rich programme of exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops over three weeks. Acting as a meeting point for artists, thinkers, musicians and filmmakers, local and international, 51zero Festival presents artistic production focusing on contemporary art and cinema and promotes the cultural and creative capacity of the region. This year, the festival extends across Rochester Cathedral, Restoration House, the Guildhall and Huguenot museums and Rochester High Street. In Canterbury, it will populate the University for the Creative Arts campus including the Herbert Read Gallery. The festival will launch at Rochester Cathedral’s crypt on Friday the 25th October, with an evening of screenings accompanied by live music featuring some of the leading musicians in the UK, curated by Margherita Gramegna, alongside Peter Fillingham’s The rainbow Buns, 2016.

For its 4th edition, the festival collaborates with a wide range of emerging and established artists, practitioners and musicians from the area and beyond, invited or engaged via Open Call. The Rochester area will see work by artist Dan Rees, who will be presenting Chalk, 2018, at Rochester Cathedral’s crypt, and Matthew Darbyshire’s Deposition Model No.1 : Farnese Hercules, 2016, situated in the unique surroundings of the Italian Garden at Restoration House, created by owners Robert Tucker and Jonathan Wilmot, who will showcase a newly constructed classical temple in dialogue with Matthew’s sculpture. David Goldenberg will present a new work Granulation, an online and installation project situated in the undercroft area of the Guildhall Museum, which invites participation World-Wide, to remap the art world or ‘body of art’ and to break it down into its ‘molecular parts’. Rochester audiences will be invited to reassemble these building blocks into a new language of art. The main room of the Museum will host Rasheed Araeen, a pioneer of minimalist sculpture in Britain, who will present Chakras, 1969-70, 16 painted wooden discs and a reconstruction of its performance – taking place at San Pier, on the river Medway, alongside documentation by Peter Fillingham of the performance Disco Sailing presented recently at the Garage Museum in Moscow, and a text/photo collage by its curator Valentin Diaconov. In the adjoining room, there will be works by the Dutch artist Matthijs de Bruijne, whose work touches upon socio-political issues and critical collective consciousness. British filmmaker Jill Daniels will present her films at the Huguenot Museum, exploring memory and place through fictional enactment and documentary realism.

In Canterbury, works by John Peter Askew create arrangements of ‘filmic’ images of Russian life, and Lique Schoot’s online project Who am I Tomorrow presents a series of self-portraits. Film programmes at the UCA lecture theatre will showcase entries from a themed Open Call titled Wishful Thinking, curated by Jill Daniels, Matthias Kispert and Inga Burrows, as well as work from a second open call including students from University of Kent. Social Morphologies Research Unit present their work Morphologies of Invisible Agents, making visible the forces behind political movements and social change. Bird Saunders, Tanja Jurican, Alena Pratasevich [online project] and the Iranian-British artist Maria Kheirkhah will also present their works in the Canterbury campus with Morag Keil and Georgie Nettel’s work The Fascism of everyday life, while the Singaporean English artist Steven Wong will introduce us to his new platform for ideas MAPP and will contribute to the Granulation project.

Through placing artwork in public settings and outdoor spaces across the cities, the festival aims to take the art to where the people are, encouraging conversations and active involvement of local and visiting public as well as engaging audiences with the character and the heritage of the area. Workshops led by the artist Hannah Whittaker, invite local people and families to engage with the festival’s artworks and Ioana Pioaru’s drawing workshops embed participants within the unique landscape and history of Medway.

51zero Festival is an Arts Council funded project that aims to introduce highly resolved, relevant and important artworks and films to the Kent area, particularly in Rochester, where 51zero Festival activities are unique in filling a gap in Medway’s art provision. The festival offers opportunities for regional artists and graduates to exhibit with established, international artists. 51zero Festival has a successful track record of creating platforms for exposure and opportunities for emerging talent, engaging young artists in activities meaningful for their professional development. Working from within the region of Kent as the project’s base, 51zero Festival presents programmes of exhibitions, events, projects and touring activities through partnership and co-production with cultural organisations in the UK and overseas.

Among the notions the festival programme questions is whether art today can actually be an effective vehicle for fresh thinking. Looking at the systems that make up the way art is shown, exhibited and talked about, the artists that the festival presents examine whether these systems promote a return to the same ways of doing things, held back by conventional understandings of what is expected of artist by the political and economic context they work in.

In the words of Margherita Gramegna, Director and co-curator of the festival: “51zero Festival contributes to the artistic landscape of Medway and Kent fostering a growing interest in artists’ moving image and contemporary art, engaging audiences and cultivating emerging talent, to build cultural value and a legacy for the area. This year’s project is ambitious and forward-looking in view of Medway’s aspiration to be the next UK City of Culture”.

Co-curator David Goldenberg adds: “The festival comprises invited artists, filmmakers, open call, student work, public activities, workshops and talks, where all activities are of equal importance and act as a catalyst for thinking. We want to showcase qualities inherent to 51zero Festival that are relevant to the location and people, rather than importing and adopting pre-existing models. The festival also attempts to look at what a 21st-century art practice is and how reality is seen and filtered through art’’

51zero Festival’s long standing partner is the University of Kent. Peter Hatton, Programme Director of MA Event and Experience Design, comments: “The School of Music and Fine Art at the University of Kent considers 51zero Festival to be an important regional and international organisation that we are fortunate to have had a long and productive association with. Staff and students have been involved in their touring programmes and previous festivals editions since 2012. Going forward, with the development of new programmes and departments here at Medway in the Historic Dockyard, we see the relationship with 51zero Festival continuing and strengthening”.

Programme details coming soon

51zero continuously introduces highly resolved, relevant and important artworks and films to Medway and Kent. The festival offers opportunities for regional artists and students to exhibit with established, international artists and takes the work to where the people are, encouraging conversations and active engagement with local and visiting public. 

51zero/festival 2017  Photo: Bas Jan Ader. Still from Broken Fall (Organic), 1971.

51zero/festival 2017
October 27th – November 2nd

This year’s programme launched at Rochester Cathedral, presenting a rich programme of artists’ films and live music scores, followed by installations, talks and performances, alongside workshops, animations and a dedicated children’s programme, at Guildhall Museum. Screenings took place at Huguenot Museum and a final showcase of films by emerging artists, as part of Open Projector, was hosted by the University of Kent, as well as a final discussion forum, bringing together a mix of international and emerging artists, local students and graduates, curators, critics and musicians.

The festival presented a cross-section of work from different generations of artists, many having taken part in Biennials, and raised aspirations of emerging talent, offering platforms for exposure to up and coming artists and students from the region and beyond.

51zero/festival 2017 took place in various venues and locations across Medway.

Programme details can be found here

51zero curates an international contemporary arts festival in the South East of England and programmes cross-border events and exhibitions of artists’ film, moving image and digital-art connecting to national and international arts programmes.

51zero/festival 2014. Photo © 2010. Lindsay Seers. All rights reserved. Still from The Projectionist (Film London Jarman Award 2010)

51zero/voyager 2014. Photo © 2010. Lindsay Seers. All rights reserved. Still from The Paramnesiac (Film London Jarman Award 2010).

51zero/festival 2014
October 10th-12th

On the 10th-12th October 2014, 51zero presented 51zero Festival 2014 – The Other Side of Here, with a groundbreaking new programme of artists’ film, moving image and digital art that took place across the Medway towns of Strood, Rochester and Chatham.

The theme ‘The Other Side of Here’ encompassed a theatrical and sensory experience of Anglo-French artists’ film, moving image, digital art and cinema – exploring and celebrating cinema and the moving image beyond the single screen. Informed by European-wide creative partnerships, 51zero organisation works with UK South East cultural agencies and their counterparts in Northern France to form artistic links between the distinct regions of Medway and Northern France.

With a focus on animating public space and engaging new audiences through a series of site-specific installations and special screenings, the festival extends the traditional art experience by showing work in non-traditional art spaces as well as museums and galleries. It has a carefully honed programme encompassing work by British and French artist filmmakers, and has a mission to create out-of-the-ordinary cinematic experiences of the kind you won’t find in traditional cinema.

The festival launched on the night of Friday 10th October at Rochester’s Guildhall Museum with a newly curated film programme accompanied by the world premiere of a new musical composition especially composed by James Taylor, performed live by the acclaimed James Taylor Quartet and Choristers from Rochester Cathedral Choir. Turner Prize winner and Jarman Award nominee Laure Prouvost presented three films, one of which won the Principal Oberhausen Prize.

2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the work of Derek Jarman and 51zero Festival joined this national celebration through the presentation of a programme of Film London Jarman Award Film Commissions (2009-2013). The short films of up to three minutes in duration, were commissioned for Channel 4’s 3 Minute Wonder and Random Acts strands as a result of the annual Film London Jarman Award. Artists include: Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Brad Butler & Karen Mirza, Emily Wardill, Lindsay Seers, Luke Fowler, Nathaniel Mellors and Shezad Dawood.

Artistic Director Margherita Gramegna says: “51zero festival extends the moving-image experience across Medway and its communities by showing work in non-traditional art spaces such as museums, empty shops and churches, closing the gap between art and its audiences. What excites me about the project is that it enables the introduction of a form of art virtually absent in the area, connecting Medway and the artists from here to national and international arts programmes.”

Collaborations are reflected through a programme of single screen work, performance, and quirky installations by students, alumni and lecturers from University of the Creative Arts, University of Kent and L’École Supérieure d’Art et Design Le Havre-Rouen, including TEA and Jamie Jenkinson, together with established and emerging artists from France, Medway and further afield, such as Catherine Linton.

Chatham’s Sun Pier House and POP Creative Space, hubs of the new Medway Creative Quarter, hosted work by prominent visiting French artist filmmakers Alix Delmas and Thibault Jadenne, as well as a participatory performance by Stéphane Trois Carrés. Bertrand Gadenne animated POP with the startling street-level installation Le Poisson, while at Sun Pier, Cine Boat, a two-seater Orkney Spinner transformed into a mobile cinema by two recent UCA graduates, Loren Beven and Katryn Saqui, presents Michael Tyburski’s award winning film Angelfish. Live events extended to St Nicholas Church in Strood, where Edwin Burdis presented a new video work accompanied by a live organ soundtrack performed by in-house organist Ken Reynolds.

A host of shorts and documentaries at Princes Hall, further highlighted the French presence which graced much of the festival programme including a humorous animation for young people at Medway Little Theatre. Amy Dickson’s ‘Film and Stitch’ workshop also welcomed a young audience and invited participants of all ages to combine textile and filmstrip to create their own moving-image, in the spirit of experimental animator Len Lye. Lastly, the public was invited to curate the closing strand of the festival with ‘Open Projector’, an evening of films brought in by audiences and screened live during the festivals closing Sunday event.


51zero/festival 2018/19

51zero presents Locate, a consideration of languages perceptible in Contemporary Art of the Moving Image, a cross-border programme of artists’ film, moving image and digital-art linking Kent and Medway with Bulgaria and Sweden.

This festival will be part of a wider project that enables an international cultural dialogue through moving-image; the development of public awareness of the opportunities for expression and new thinking through digital arts; opportunities for emerging artists to develop their skills and work practice through travel and study in the EU.

The Locate project facilitates the exchange of work practice, movement of curators, artists and students, establishes transnational mobility and benefits the experience, skilling and education of all involved.

51zero/festival 2018/19 will take place in various venues and locations across Medway and Kent; more details coming soon.