Turning The Page: 5 Highlights of The International Literature Festival 2020

Posted October 21, 2020 in Arts and Culture

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Following its postponement in May, the International Literature Festival is re-emerging through a series of livestreams and pre-recorded chats. We may have lost Hilary Mantel in the process, but we have gained many others. We select a few highlights from their programme for your delectation.



Ai Weiwei

in conversation with Annie Fletcher (IMMA)

The Chinese dissident artist and activist is one of the leading names in the visual art world, propelling urgent understandings of contemporary social, cultural, and political issues. He now resides across the pond after leaving Germany, owing to displeasure at what he perceived as their conciliatory attitude to the homeland from which he fled after imprisonment. His new project sees him take over a large display screen in Piccadilly Circus with a series of images from his artworks and political films.

During lockdown Ai made a film about Wuhan, where the Covid-19 outbreak began, called Coronation, which is available on Vimeo. He also produced 10,000 printed masks and raised more than £1m for the organisations Human Rights Watch, Refugees International and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Friday October 23, 8.30pm, €8


Claudia Rankine

in conversation with Caelainn Hogan (Republic of Shame)

Acclaimed poet and playwright Claudia Rankine had a new play set to go up in New York when the pandemic laid siege to the cultural calendar. Help was set to explore white male privilege and stemmed from an essay she penned for the New York Times entitled, ‘I Wanted to Know What White Men Thought About Their Privilege. So I Asked.’ Needless to say, the subject-matter has made it centre stage this summer, even if it stays in the theatrical wings. Rankin teaches at Yale and is a curator with The Racial Imaginary Institute, an interdisciplinary cultural laboratory. Her latest work Just Us: An American Conversation, extends these investigations of consciousness-raising and structural change.

Wednesday October 28, 6pm, €8


To the End of the World and Back with Mark O’Connell

Timing, they say, is everything. And to this extent Mark O’Connell‘s personal foray into the world of Doomsday prophesiers and preppers proved the most timely of Spring titles. “I wanted to be near to the idea of the apocalypse, to look upon what evidence of its deadly work could be found in the present: not in the form of numbers or projections, which are nowadays mostly how it’s revealed to us, but rather in the form of places – landscapes both real and imaginary where the end of the world could be glimpsed. And so this book is in some sense the outcome of a series of perverse pilgrimages, to those places where the shadows of the future fall most darkly across the present.”

Saturday October 24, 4pm, €5


Unfolding Maps: A Celebration of Tim Robinson

The late Tim Robinson was an English writer, cartographer, mathematician, artist and illustrator who spent more than 40 years chronicling the west of Ireland. “No one has disentangled the tales the stones of Ireland have to tell so deftly and retold them so beautifully,” said O’Toole upon his passing this spring. For this occasion he is joined by some of Tim Robinson’s friends and collaborators; poet Moya Cannon, photographer Nicolas Fève, and Robert Macfarlane, to discuss his influence and legacy.

Wednesday October 28, 8pm, €5


Say it Loud – We’re Irish!

Following an open call for event proposals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic artists and writers in February 2020, the festival presents six events as part of their Compass strand. Say It Aloud – We’re Irish! is a fresh and vibrant spoken word event, which explores perspectives on what it means to be Irish today. Featuring a new work inspired by Ola Majekodunmi’s viral video-documentary, What Does “Irishness” Look Like?, the event also includes readings of poems and a discussion.

Performers include Lorde Fuhl, a Dublin based wordsmith, using songs, stories, and poems; Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, a Lagos-born, Galway-bred and Dublin-based writer, performer, arts facilitator, and literary editor and Kayssie Kandiwa, a poet and singer-songwriter whose work blends her Zimbabwean cultural heritage and her Irish upbringing.

Sunday October 25, 7pm (donation suggested with 100% given to performers)


The Dublin International Literature Festival runs from Thursday October 22 to Wednesday October 28.

Full programme details at ilfdublin.com


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