Barbican 2018 Highlights

Throughout 2018, the Barbican will celebrate The Art of Change – looking at how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape across all art forms

The Art of Change season presents bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts, and will feature across all Barbican stages, galleries, screens and public spaces.

Barbican Art Gallery stages major exhibitions Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins and Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde, looking at the work of 20th Century artist couples, from artists, architects, designers, writers, musicians, and performers, as well as a new commission in the Curve by Yto Barrada.

On film, the Art of Change programme celebrates a century of women’s suffrage in Nevertheless she Persisted and in the theatre, Complicité and Simon McBurney return to the Barbican in The Encounter. Also on stage, New York’s The Wooster Group look back on the landmark 1971 debate on women’s liberation in The Town Hall Affair while Taylor Mac is joined onstage by a 24 piece orchestra to chart the years 1776–1806 in his 24 decade history of popular music.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and LA Philharmonic both address the Art of Change in their International Associate Residencies and the Centre co-presents the UK Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and present a performance of Nicole Lizée’s The Filthy Fifteen.

Elsewhere in the programme, Barbican Cinema present a season of films exploring London’s nocturnal life to complement the Museum of London’s photographic exhibition London Nights; in the theatre, Boy Blue Entertainment’s hit show Blak Whyte Gray returns and Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera present The Second Violinist and the Barbican hosts a Bach Weekend with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, as well as concerts from Nils Frahm and John Cale.


Yto Barrada
Wed 7 Feb – Sun 20 May 2018, The Curve, Barbican Centre
Media view: Tue 6 Feb, 10am –1pm
Free Admission
Supported using funding from Arts Council England

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

For spring 2018, Barbican Art Gallery has invited artist Yto Barrada to create her first major London commission for the Curve. Working across photography, film, sculpture, textile, installation and publications, Barrada explores the subversive tactics and strategies of resistance developed to deal with everything from the mundanities of everyday life to shifts in power and migration, often focusing on her native Morocco. Barrada traces the hidden transcripts of objects and people in her work, guiding us through the overlapping realities and fictions of their narratives.

Documenting the visual languages of the everyday to expose overarching structures of authority, Barrada’s projects interrogate ideas around colonialism, ethnography, archaeology, authenticity and myth-making.

For information and images please visit:

Another Kind of Life. Photography on the Margins
Wed 28 Feb – Sun 27 May 2018, Barbican Art Gallery
Media view: Tue 27 Feb 2018, 10am –1pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

At a time when individual rights are being contested and those on the fringes of society feel ever more marginalised from mainstream political and social narratives, the exhibition Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins celebrates and explores photography’s enduring relationship with individuals and communities who operate on the margins or openly flout social conventions through the work of 20 photographers including Bruce Davidson, Paz Errazuriz, Casa Susanna Collection, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Boris Mikhailov and Dayanita Singh.

Driven by motivations both personal and political, many of the photographers in the exhibition sought to provide an authentic representation of disenfranchised communities–from transgender to bikers, street urchins to junkies, gang members to survivalists – often conspiring with them to construct their own identity through the camera lens. The works in Another Kind of Life present the outsider as an agent of change. The non-conventional subject is here a prism through which to view the world afresh.

Artists have historically been instrumental in presenting the image of the outsider for a wider public. Employing a diverse set of aesthetic strategies from portraiture to social documentary and vernacular to street photography, the artists in the exhibition approach their subject with a humanity and empathy that is both empowering and inclusive.

Reflecting a more diverse, more complex and more authentic view of the world, Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins touches on themes of gender and sexuality, drugs, youth culture and minorities of all kinds and includes bodies of work from Japan to the US, and from Chile to Nigeria. By recording and documenting those on the margins, the images in the exhibition bear witness to how social attitudes change across time and space, charting how visual representation has helped shape current discourse in relation to marginalised or alternative communities.

For information and images please visit:

Modern Couples. Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde

Wed10 Oct 2018Sun 27 Jan 2019, Barbican Art Gallery
Media view: Tue 9 Oct 2018,
10am –1pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

As the notion of a ‘couple’ evolves with society’s ever changing approach to marriage, partnerships, family, parenthood and gender, Barbican Art Gallery presents Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde: the first interdisciplinary exhibition to explore the creative output resulting from the exclusive or polyamorous relationships between artist couples in the first half of the 20th Century.

Including the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, designers, poets, writers, musicians, dancers and performers, Modern Couples questions the history of modern art as one largely defined by solitary genius. The exhibition also reveals how creative individuals came together to variously transgress the constraints of their time, reshaping art, redefining gender stereotypes and forging new ways of living.

Featuring around 30 principal artist couples, with exhibits drawn from public and private collections in Europe, North America and Russia, the exhibition also highlights the work of legendary couples, such as Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, Lee Miller and Man Ray, Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko, Lucia Moholy and László Moholy-Nagy, Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Jean Arp, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici, Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West alongside less well known partnerships such as those between Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt, Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney, Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt, and Mary Reynolds and Marcel Duchamp, amongst others.

The exhibition is a partnership collaboration with Centre Pompidou-Metz

For information and images please visit:


Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Barbican International Associate residency in 2018
Tue 27 Feb – Thu 1 Mar 2018, various venues

Recreating Benny Goodman’s legendary debut at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall on 16 January 1938 – the first interracial concert in the hall, and a watershed moment in American music history – the JLCO performs pieces straight from the set list of that historic evening, including material by those made famous by Goodman himself: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Fats Waller, Louis Prima, and more.

*This concert is part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

The second event pays tribute to another musical all-rounder, Leonard Bernstein. Composer and arranger Richard DeRosa will work with JLCO lead trombonist Vincent Gardner to craft unique arrangements of Bernstein’s music for the Orchestra, including classics like West Side Story and Candide, as well as unexpected gems from Bernstein’s vast repertoire. A testament to JLCO and Marsalis’ ever-expanding mission of teaching young people democracy and freedom of expression through jazz and improvisation, 1 March 2018 sees young musicians from the Guildhall Big Band and The Young Jazz Big Band come together at Milton Court Concert Hall in a showcase of what could be the future of Jazz, with music from the era of Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (UK Premiere)
Tue 20 Feb 2018, Barbican Hall, 7pm
*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

The Barbican and the BBC Symphony Orchestra co-present the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s first opera Dead Man Walking– one of the most political and most widely-performed operas in the US – in a performance directed by Leonard Foglia. The opera is based on the narrative book by Sister Helen Prejean about the real-life journey of a nun who becomes the pen-pal and, later, spiritual advisor to a convicted murderer on Louisiana State Penitentiary’s death row. Sister Helen went on to become one of America’s leading advocates for the abolition of the death penalty. Her role is played by Joyce DiDonato in this concert-staged performance.

Music by Jake Heggie. Libretto by Terence McNally. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean.

This opera was commissioned by San Francisco Opera.

Los Angeles Philharmonic International Associate Residency 2018 with Gustavo Dudamel
Wed 2 – Fri 4 May 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Gustavo Dudamel leads the orchestra through a varied programme that includes two European premieres by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Ted Hearne, both Barbican co-commissions. Alongside Salonen’s premiere, the programme for the first concert also features Shostakovich’s epic Fifth Symphony and Varèse’s Ameriques. The second Residency concert sees the European premiere of American composer Ted Hearne’s Place. Set in a country at a crossroads where the intersections of manifest destiny and gentrification meet history and personal experience, Place explores the complex and contentious map of the place we call home. This performance is part of Green Umbrella, the LA Phil’s acclaimed series of new music, and will be performed by the LA Phil New Music Group.

* This concert is part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

On 4 May 2018 the orchestra celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday year with a performance of his Chichester Psalms with the London Symphony Chorus, juxtaposed with Beethoven’s Symphony No 9.

Bach Weekend with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra
Fri 15 – Sun 17 June 2018, Various venues, 11am, 3pm, 7.30pm

To celebrate the 75th birthday of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Barbican has invited him to curate a Bach weekend. This will include a three-concert cycle of cantatas performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, as well as featuring an outstanding line-up of artists in motets, violin sonatas, cello suites, and charismatic and energetic harpsichord player Jean Rondeau performing the Goldberg Variations at Milton Court. Also at Milton Court will be a concert of Bach’s first three Cello Suites, as performed by internationally celebrated French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras.

Further highlights of the music programme:

Nils Frahm: All Melody
Wed 21 – Sat 24 Feb 2018, Barbican Hall

Globally celebrated Berlin-based composer, producer and performer Nils Frahm returns to the live stage in 2018; including three dates at the Barbican. These concerts will be the pianist’s third Barbican appearance, following on from a triumphant marathon weekend which he curated at the Centre in July 2016.

John Cale: A Futurespective
Fri 9 & Sat 10 Mar 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Legendary songwriter, producer and musician, John Cale returns to the Barbican next spring for his first-ever career retrospective. Marking his 76th birthday, the event spreads over two epic nights at the Barbican Hall and will see Cale revealing tracks from his forthcoming Domino studio album as well as addressing music going back to 1964 that he has rarely, if ever, performed live, including selections from the Velvet Underground and Cale’s landmark solo albums recorded in his years with Island Records.

Just Jam Reloaded
Sat 17 Mar 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Just Jam is back at the Barbican for another edition of the event that unites underground music and experiments in live video. The night will feature a cast of afrobeats, grime, electronic, rap and further talents showcasing some of the most vital sounds from the UK and beyond, with music from Kamaal Williams - keyboardist and producer formerly of South London duo Yussef Kamaal, Nottingham grime MC and NTS regular Mez, kuduro-influenced Portuguese producer Nídia, Belly Squad - the young three-piece blending afrobeats and dancehall with UK street sounds and DJ Grandmixxer. Also featured within the line-up are emerging Nigerian-born, South London-raised rapper Naira Marley, often cited as paving the way for artists such as J Hus & Mostack, and trio YGG (aka You Get Grime) formed of the MCs Saint, PK and Lyrical Strally. More performers to be announced.

Powerplant: The Filthy Fifteen
Tue 1 May 2018, Milton Court, 7.30pm
*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

A performance of Nicole Lizée’s The Filthy Fifteen forms part of a concert by dynamo percussionist Joby Burgess and his sound and video trio Powerplant – with Matthew Fairclough and Kathy Hinde. The concert celebrates bold new approaches to composition with works by Nicole Lizée, Will Gregory, Graham Fitkin and the world premiere of a Barbican commission by Linda Buckley. Lizée’s The Filthy Fifteen was commissioned by Joby Burgess in 2016 and is inspired by fifteen songs deemed too explicit by the committee of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1985.

London Symphony Orchestra highlights

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the UK Premiere of Genesis Suite on 13 January, a collaborative work from 1945 America featuring music by seven leading emigré composers, including Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Milhaud. Genesis Suite has been heard only once since its 1945 premiere. This performance, co-produced by the Barbican and LSO will be staged with Creative Direction by Gerard McBurney. François-Xavier Roth, the LSO’s Principal Guest Conductor, takes charge of a major celebration of the century of Claude Debussy’s death in 2018. The series will survey Debussy’s career, those who influenced him and his successors across three concerts with the LSO, each featuring a different French soloist: cellist Edward Moreau (21 January), pianist Cédric Tiberghien (25 January) and violinist Renaud Capuçon (25 March). As part of the celebration, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast four lunchtime concerts from LSO St Luke’s curated by Cédric Tiberghien. Helen Grime’s Fanfare acted as a curtain-raiser to Simon Rattle’s inaugural concert in September 2017 and a full version of the work will be given its world premiere on 19 April, coupled with Mahler’s Symphony No 9, and followed on 22 April with Tippet’s The Rose Lake, performed alongside Mahler’s Symphony No 10.

BBC Symphony Orchestra highlights

The BBC Symphony Orchestra launch the new year with the culmination of their acclaimed 17-18 Sibelius cycle, led by Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo and marking the anniversary of the centenary of Finnish independence (6 January). A Total Immersion day will focus on the music of Leonard Bernstein in his centenary year (27 January) - dedicated as much to his concert and choral works as his jazz and cabaret talents, Bernstein the Renaissance Man is celebrated in film, conversation and performances, including popular choral works, as well as a rare chance to hear his Songfest. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus close the season with Sakari Oramo joined by Alice Coote, Stuart Skelton and Alan Ewing for a performance of Elgar’s greatest oratorio: The Dream of Gerontius (16 May).


Complicité/Simon McBurney – The Encounter
Sat 14 Apr–Sat 5 May 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Tue 17 Apr 2018, 7.30pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

First presented here in 2016 and following a hit Broadway run and international tour, The Encounter, inspired by the novel Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu, returns to the Barbican.

This true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre lost in a remote area of Brazil in 1969 leads to a startling encounter that is to change his life forever. Simon McBurney’s solo performance threads scenes of his own life with details of McIntyre’s hallucinogenic journey. Garnered with Drama Desk, Evening Standard, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards, this extraordinary tour de force combines virtuosic storytelling and groundbreaking binaural sound transmitted direct to the audience through headphones.

The Wooster Group – The Town Hall Affair
Based on the film Town Bloody Hall by Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker
Thu 21–Sun 24 Jun 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 21 Jun 2018, 7.45pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

From New York’s iconic theatre group comes a mixed-media piece channelling a raucous 1971 debate on women’s liberation that still reverberates today. In front of an audience of literary heavyweights gathered at New York’s Town Hall, pugnacious American novelist Norman Mailer squares up against a panel of prominent feminist advocates including Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston and Diana Trilling. The occasion is captured in Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary Town Bloody Hall.

The Town Hall Affair, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, features extended clips from the film and revisits that explosive night with Ari Fliakos, Greg Mehrten, Scott Shepherd, Maura Tierney and Kate Valk playing the real-life participants onstage. Layered with additional text and footage, The Town Hall Affair draws on experimental techniques to delve into the revolutionary fervour of 1970s’ feminist thinking, and is a timely look at how the struggle for gender equality has evolved, nearly 50 years after the landmark debate.

The film, Town Bloody Hall, is screened at the Barbican on Saturday 23 June at 4pm, to coincide with The Wooster Group's London performances.

Boy Blue Entertainment – Blak Whyte Gray
Wed 12–Sat 15 Sep 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press Night: Wed 12 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

The critically acclaimed Blak Whyte Gray returns to the Barbican, following its Olivier Award nomination earlier this year. The world in flux, a need for change: the artists of Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue Entertainment give expression to experiences of contemporary life. The time is right to ask questions, to break free from the inner tension of a system that isn’t working, and to emerge on the other side to an awakening – a return to roots, a celebration of culture.

Fuelled by an emotional energy, the piece pairs the concentrated physicality of select hip-hop dance styles with the rhythmical groove of music and moves evoking Africa. Created by Boy Blue’s founders Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Blak Whyte Gray is infused with an unexpected abstract quality, revealing a new and different side to the company’s personality.

Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera – The Second Violinist
Thu 6–Sat 8 Sep 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 6 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

A dazzling modern opera that tells the foreboding story of a life falling apart, The Second Violinist unfolds like an unnerving thriller driven by a haunting and compulsive score. Martin, an orchestral violinist, is consumed by social media platforms, morbid fantasies and violent video games. Seeking solace in the music of Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, his inner turmoil becomes ever more apparent as he searches for beauty in a dark, dark world.

The latest collaboration between internationally renowned Irish playwright Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy, this brooding production switches between multiple timelines. It marries multilayered set and video design with a score, rich in amplified sounds, harmonies and overtones – reflective of the heightening tension onstage – and played live by the dynamic music group, Crash Ensemble. Lyrical and ethereal singing by three soloists and a 16-strong chorus contrasts with Aaron Monaghan’s central performance, physically fraught, essentially wordless and utterly involving.

Taylor Mac – A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act
Thu 28–Sat 30 June 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 28 Jun 2018, 7.30pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

Fabulous and fearless, Taylor Mac reframes the social history of America through three decades of song in this no-holds-barred extravaganza of music, art, activism and entertaining mass ritual. Joined onstage by a 24-piece orchestra and a host of special guests drawn from London’s own performance community, New York’s Taylor Mac has created a Pulitzer Prize-nominated, once-in-a-lifetime performance in a quest to chronicle how communities grow stronger as they are being torn apart.

Charting the years 1776–1806, Mac asks the audience to conspire with him to reimagine rebellions, revolutions, triumphs and tragedies. Pub song sing-alongs and subversive anthems are rearranged as musical mash-ups to take on a chapter of the defining early years of America’s history.

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act is part of LIFT 2018, a London-wide festival of international performance taking place throughout June.


Nevertheless She Persisted: A Century of Suffrage
Wed 18- Tue 24 Apr 2018, Barbican Cinema

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

Nevertheless She Persisted: A Century of Suffrage film season explores women political pioneers and the price paid by those who have made incredible contributions to women’s rights across the globe over the last 100 years.

It's been 100 years since the Representation of the People Act in the UK, and 90 since the Equal Franchise Act granted equal voting rights to both women and men at the age of 21. A century later, women around the world are still fighting for their rights.

The film season includes a trio of stories on remarkable ‘firsts’; Chisholm '72 - Unbought and Unbossed (US, 2004) a portrait of Shirley Chisholm the first black congress woman to run for President of the United States in 1972; Georgie Girl (New Zealand, 2001) the story of Georgina Beyer, the first transgendered person in the world to be elected to national office; and Enemies of Happiness (Denmark, 2006) following activist Malalai Joya on the campaign trail in the run-up to the first democratic parliamentary election in Afghanistan for over 30 years.

Chronic Youth
Sat 17-Sun 18 Mar 2018, Barbican Cinema

The Barbican Young Programmers - a group of 16-25 year olds - will present Chronic Youth 18, a weekend of films and events curated by young people and for young people at Barbican Cinema. Across six months, Barbican Young Programmers follow a programme closely guided and mentored by Barbican curatorial and marketing teams during which time they also get the opportunity to meet critics, producers, distributors and directors. This approach by the Barbican not only enables the Young Programmers to develop their knowledge of programming and attracting an audience, but also provides an invaluable opportunity for the Barbican to learn from the young people who might soon be shaping cinema film programmes across the country.

London Nights
Fri 11 May to Sun 11 Nov 2018, Barbican Cinema

In partnership with London Nights at the Museum of London - the major photography exhibition celebrating the city after dark – the Barbican will host a film season to explore London’s nocturnal life through the cinematographer’s lens.

Kicking off in May, London Nights’ Film Season at the Barbican includes one of the great British silent crime films, Hitchcock’s expressionist thriller The Lodger, featuring atmospheric, fog-bound London locations with a new score by Neil Brand performed by Orchestra of St Paul’s. Julian Temple’s iconic and starry (Patsy Kensit, Eddie O'Connell, David Bowie, James Fox, Ray Davies, Mandy Rice-Davies) Absolute Beginners about life in late 1950s Notting Hill is adapted from Colin MacInnes’ novel. Iranian filmmaker and artist Mitra Tabrizian’s debut feature Gholam is described as having ‘a feel for nocturnal London with a sharp undertow of social insight for Brexit-era Britain’ and brings together two of the most prominent Iranian actors from before and after the 1979 revolution, Behrouz Behnejad and award-winning Shahab Hosseini who plays an enigmatic taxi driver, working every hour that God sends, in his search for a sense of purpose in an alien environment.

London Nights’ Film Season at the Barbican is part of Culture Mile.


Tuning into Change
Fri 4 May 2018, Barbican Centre
*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

Gustavo Dudamel rehearses National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Inspire Orchestra and Youth Orchestra of LA members, before unveiling Tuning into Change, a youth manifesto for the future of the arts. Written by young people from across the UK and LA, Tuning into Change is the public-facing culmination of a six-month-long Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning project, which examines the role young artists hope to play in shaping society in our uncertain and fast-changing world.

Young people aged 14-18 will investigate ideas like what the arts can offer young people, what skills do they want to learn now and who should be providing them. Ideas will be captured through an interactive workshop process, ultimately resulting in a published book for distribution in the UK and the US. Part of Sky Arts Art 50.

Barbican Young Poets – A Change is Gonna Come
Fri 25–Sat 26 May 2018, The Pit
Press night: Fri 25 May 2018, 7.15pm

*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*

In the spirit of experimentation, past and present Barbican Young Poets join forces with dancers from Boy Blue Entertainment in the intimate setting of The Pit.

Under the artistic and creative direction of Jacob Sam-La Rose, a poet and performer of international repute, and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, co-founder of hip-hop dance company Boy Blue, A Change is Gonna Come tunes into the musicality and rhythm of language.

Poets and dancers interact, fusing the vitality and energy of spoken word with movement, as they share personal experiences of the nation in which they live.

Exploiting a range of genres, styles and themes, Barbican Young Poets have evolved to become drivers for change, their voices helping to define the poetry scene in London and across the UK, whilst Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue develop some of the country’s most sought-after hip-hop artists.

Young Creatives On Change
Wed 3–Mon 29 Oct 2018
*Part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change*
Work by young creatives from our Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning programmes will be presented in a new exhibition at the Barbican Library from 3 – 29 October 2018. Tying in with National Poetry Day for the month of October, the exhibition will include work by our Young Poets and Young Visual Artists on the theme of change. This exhibition will showcase the best of the work created by the Barbican Young Poets throughout 2018.