Barbican 2019 highlights
In 2019, the Barbican’s Life Rewired season will explore what it means to be human in the face of technological and scientific forces that are dizzying in their speed, scale and complexity.
The season investigates the impact of the pace and extent of technological change on our culture and society, looking at how we can grasp and respond to the seismic shifts these advances will bring about. Highlights of the Life Rewired season include AI: More Than Human – a major new exhibition offering an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in Artificial Intelligence, and Strange Loops, a series of collaborative projects and events inspired by Pulitzer prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.
The Barbican’s Level G programme includes the Life Rewired Hub which will host a year-long programme of talks, workshops, research and residencies exploring the key ideas in our 2019 season, whilst the Barbican Cinema presents a selection of lesser-known adaptations of the work of Polish author Stanislaw Lem.
Elsewhere in the 2019 programme, the Barbican Theatre will see Cillian Murphy give a riveting, shape-shifting performance in Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Max Porter’s multi-award-winning novel, Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Barbican Art Gallery presents Lee Krasner: Living Colour, the first retrospective in Europe for over 50 years of American artist Lee Krasner.
The Barbican’s Music programme includes one of the world’s leading coloratura sopranos, Diana Damrau, in three concerts interpreting works by Richard Strauss, whilst the contemporary music line-up includes two of the world’s most innovative beat-makers and pioneers in their respective arts, afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and techno producer and composer Jeff Mills.
Opening in May 2019, the Barbican presents a major new exhibition: AI: More Than Human - an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in Artificial Intelligence exploring the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology.
AI: More Than Human presents new commissions and projects by artists, researchers and scientists Joy Buolamwini, Stephanie Dinkins, Mario Klingemann, Kode 9, Lawrence Lek, Massive Attack, Lauren McCarthy, Yoichi Ochiai, Neri Oxman, Anna Ridler, Chris Salter, Sam Twidale and Marija Avramovic, and Universal Everything.
Marcus du Sautoy, Mahan Esfahani, Rob Thomas, Ben Kreukniet, Victoria Gould – Strange Loops
Mar, Various Barbican venues
Part of Life Rewired
Strange Loops is a collaboration between mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, musician Mahan Esfahani, composer Rob Thomas, visual artist Ben Kreukniet, and performer Victoria Gould. In a series of curated events at the Barbican in March 2019, this collaboration seeks to create musical, visual and theatrical ‘strange loops’ to explore what it means to be human and whether a machine can become conscious or creative. It will leave audiences wondering what distinguishes human and machine.
Fri 22–Thu 28 Feb
For one week only, we’re screening all of the films nominated for Best Picture, along with a showing of all Foreign Language nominations and the nominated Live Action Shorts.
Chronic Youth Film Festival
Sat 23–Sun 24 March
The Barbican Young Programmers curate the annual Chronic Youth Film Festival, a festival programmed, run and presented by and for young people.
Smart Robots, Mortal Engines: Stanislaw Lem on Film
Sat 6–Tue 16 Apr
Part of Life Rewired
Curated by Barbican Cinema in partnership with Kinoteka Polish Film Festival, this season presents a selection of lesser-known adaptations of the work of Polish author Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006). Lem wrote across genres, but is best known in the West for his science fiction – a realm inhabited by robots, cyborgs and intelligent machines of all varieties.
Leytonstone Loves Film
Fri 27–Sun 29 Sep, Leytonstone
The weekender will celebrate film culture, filmmaking and the area’s rich local film heritage highlighting Leytonstone as a multifaceted area directly linked to the birth of cinema in the UK and the radical artist movements in the late 20th century.
Curated by anime expert Helen McCarthy (The Anime Encyclopedia), this season examines the challenge of the man-machine interface through eight films on various aspects of humanity’s response to technological change.
Diana Damrau sings Strauss
Diana Damrau sings Strauss sees one of the world’s leading coloratura sopranos in three concerts interpreting works by Richard Strauss in the Barbican Presents’ spring 2019 programme: in recital with pianist Helmut Deutsch (16 Jan 2019), in the Four Last Songs with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons (26 Jan 2019) and in the closing scene of Capriccio with the London Symphony Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda (31 Mar 2019). Diana Damrau continues to thrill audiences with her voice and stage presence. She is a regular guest at the most renowned opera houses and concert halls and was named Female Singer of the Year at the 2014 International Opera Awards.
Roderick Williams Milton Court Artist-in-Residence
Until Tue 26 Feb
British Baritone Roderick Williams is this season’s Milton Court Artist-in-Residence. He continues his series of concerts with two performances in February 2019, which will celebrate him as composer, collaborator and performer. On 19 February he performs the lead role in a new, staged English-language version of Hugo Wolf’s An Italian Songbook created and directed by Jeremy Sams and Christopher Glynn. The residency concludes on 26 February with a recital featuring works by Brahms, Clara Schumann, Howells, Sally Beamish, Robert Schumann, and the world premiere of a new work by Ryan Wigglesworth, commissioned by the Barbican.
Spanish string ensemble, the Casals Quartet will appear in two Milton Court dates in February. The first concert sees the quartet perform Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ (1 Feb 2019) – the composer’s powerful musical meditations on suffering, loss and redemption, featuring poetry and readings interwoven with the music. The second appearance by the Casals Quartet in the Barbican Presents spring 2019 programme is as part of a day curated by creative director Gerard McBurney entitled Hungariana, and features readings, visuals and music in three concerts exploring the music of the towering trio of Hungarian composers Bartók, Ligeti and Kurtág (3 Feb 2019).
Sat 18–Sun 19 May 2019
A joint project between the Barbican and its family of orchestras and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Centre’s ambitious classical weekender Sound Unbound returns in May 2019 in what will be its third edition. Audiences will again get the chance to explore new sounds and rediscover familiar ones, from medieval to modern, in a relaxed festival environment, performed across several venues by artists for whom the boundaries between classical, contemporary, experimental and pop music have been blurred – or simply don’t exist. More details to be announced in due course.
Well-known to Barbican audiences, director Peter Sellars returns to the Centre in May and June 2019 with two contrasting semi-staged productions: A performance of Orlando di Lasso’s a cappella Renaissance masterpiece Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St Peter) (Thu 23 May 2019) featuring Los Angeles Master Chorale with conductor Grant Gershon; and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (Thu 27 & Sat 29 Jun 2019) with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
The Barbican is London’s home of great international orchestras. In the spring of 2019, the Barbican Presents programme includes visits from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Ádám Fischer who perform Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (20 Feb), the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons performing works by Richard Strauss (26 Jan), and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, bringing the life-and-death struggle of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony to the Centre on 25 May. Acclaimed French Baroque music ensemble Les Arts Florissants and music director William Christie return to the Barbican with a Lent performance of Bach’s St John Passion (19 Mar), whilst The English Concert and its Artistic Director Harry Bicket perform Handel’s musical drama Semele on 5 April. Innovative Italian period ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro and its Chief Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev continue their series of concerts at the Barbican in May and June 2019. The performances include Handel’s Agrippina with Joyce DiDonato leading the cast (31 May), and a collection of 18th-century works for cello with soloist Edgar Moreau (1 Jun). Collegium Vocale Gent and Philip Herreweghe, renowned for their historically informed performance style, perform Bach’s Mass in B minor on 14 June.
London Symphony Orchestra highlights
The London Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Sir Simon Rattle begin 2019 with two performances of Hans Abrahamsen’s song cycle Let me tell you with soprano Barbara Hannigan as soloist, on 9 & 10 January. Based on the novel of the same name by Paul Griffiths, the work’s narrative follows the character Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet as she tells her own tragic story using only the 480 words used by Ophelia in the play. Hannigan returns to the LSO on 17 March as conductor and soprano in Berg’s Lulu Suite and performing her own arrangement of the Suite from Gershwin’s Girl Crazy. Sir John Eliot Gardiner completes his cycle of Schumann’s orchestral works with the LSO in February which also sees the first in a series of concerts with the pianist Daniil Trifonov who made his UK debut with the LSO at the age of 20 in 2011. In March, Bernard Haitink conducts the LSO in performances of Mahler and Bruckner marking his 90th Birthday, and François-Xavier Roth leads LSO Futures, a weekend of new music including a world premiere by Donghoon Shin, a work by David Lang for 500 community voices sung around the Barbican’s foyers, and music from participants in the LSO’s groundbreaking composer development programmes. Elim Chan makes her main season debut with the LSO in June, including the world premiere of a new work by Liam Mattison.
BBC Symphony Orchestra highlights
The BBC Symphony Orchestra continues its 18/19 season with two concerts in January featuring leading soloists: violinist James Ehnes joins the orchestra to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concert in D major and later in the month, Steven Isserlis performs Schumann’s Cello Concerto. Alongside a diverse range of concerts directed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo, a number of leading conductors make guest appearance, including Alexander Vedernikov with Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony, Karina Canellakis with a programme of Beethoven and a UK premiere by Thomas Larcher, rising young conductor Joana Carneiro with works by Golijov and John Adams, and David Robertson conducting works by Raymond Yiu, Britten and Shostakovich. The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s award-winning Total Immersion series brings two unique explorations into three 19th and 20th century composers: Ligeti (Saturday 2 March); and Nadia & Lili Boulanger (Saturday 6 April). The BBC Symphony Chorus continues its 90th birthday celebrations to mark the important role that the chorus has played in British choral life throughout the decades. This includes a special performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor conducted by John Butt and supported by the BBC Symphony Orchestra; it features a leading cast including Mary Bevan and Joanne Lunn. The BBC Singers continue their series of early-evening concerts at St Giles’ Cripplegate; highlights include Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder & Im Abendrot and Brahms’s Fest-und Gedenksprüche. Continuing their commitment to education and outreach, the BBC Symphony Orchestra offers a diverse range of programming at the Barbican for young people and families, including a fun, interactive workshop of the works of Golijov and John Adams on Saturday 11 May. As usual every concert from the BBC Symphony Orchestra is available on BBC Radio 3 for BBC Sounds.
Conference of Trees is a new audio-visual project by Berlin-based techno composer-producer Hendrik Weber, aka Pantha Du Prince, exploring the communication of trees and translating it into music with a live ensemble. With this project, the artist wishes to remind audiences of the importance of trees for our ecosystem, whilst also trying to encourage the listeners to take trees seriously as intelligent subjects, and to promote a better coexistence for humankind and nature.
Tony Allen & Jeff Mills
Thu 21 Feb, Barbican Hall, 8pm
Two of the world’s most innovative beat-makers and pioneers in their respective arts, afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and techno producer and composer Jeff Mills, will bring the fruits of their exciting new collaboration and rhythmic conversation to the Barbican in this special concert date in February 2019.
Brad Mehldau + Britten Sinfonia
Sat 16 Mar, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Brad Mehldau and Britten Sinfonia come together for a concert in which they will present Mehldau’s new piano concerto in a UK premiere performance. The evening’s programme will also feature solo improvisations from Mehldau.
Minimalist Dream House
Featuring Katia & Marielle Labèque, Bryce Dessner and David Chalmin
Works by Steve Reich, David Lang, Caroline Shaw, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, David Chalmin and a new work by Thom Yorke
Tue 9 April, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Acclaimed pianists, sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque, are renowned for their energetic double act and their passion for minimalist music. In 2013 they released an album entitled Minimalist Dream House, featuring works by minimal music pioneers and their successors.
Barbican presents the UK premiere of Sight Machine, a project between American visual artist Trevor Paglen and San Francisco based string quartet Kronos Quartet that focuses attention on the growing ubiquity of artificial intelligence technology in our lives by analysing a shared human experience – a concert – with machine-vision systems in real time.
THEATRE AND DANCE
Wayward Productions in association with Complicité
Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Mon 25 Mar–Sat 13 Apr, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 28 Mar, 7.45pm
Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) gives a riveting, shape-shifting performance in Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Max Porter’s multi-award winning novel, a heart-wrenching meditation on love, loss and living.
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair, they are visited by Crow – antagonist, babysitter, trickster and healer. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers is the second piece by Enda Walsh in our programme.
Comédie-Française – The Damned (Les Damnés)
Wed 19–Tue 25 Jun, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wed 19 Jun, 7.45pm
Crackling with intensity, this triumphant spectacle directed by Ivo van Hove depicts the disintegration of a society, undone through a venomous alliance, the drama finding unsettling parallels today.
Luchino Visconti’s screenplay is the springboard for a ceaselessly creative production, which follows a family of German industrialists – the corrupt and debauched Essenbeck clan. With echoes of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, their deepening collusion with the nascent Nazi regime puts them on a perilous path to destruction.
Invited to direct the illustrious troupe of the Comédie-Française for the first time, Van Hove and his long-time collaborator Jan Versweyveld populate the Barbican stage with a company of 30 actors and technicians.
The Damned (Les Damnés) is performed in French with English surtitles.
Tue 23 Apr–Sat 18 May, times and Barbican venues vary
Part of Life Rewired
Fertility Fest, the only arts festival devoted entirely to the subjects of modern families and the science of making babies, arrives at the Barbican for the first time. Founded by Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier, Fertility Fest is a rare, open and collaborative platform, which aims to drive social change. This four-week programme of performances and panel discussions brings together medical experts, artists and audiences.
Barbican/Fertility Fest – Avalanche: A Love Story by Julia Leigh
Sat 27 Apr–Sat 18 May, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wed 1 May, 7.45pm
Part of Life Rewired
In the Theatre, we present the world premiere of Avalanche: A Love Story, a stage dramatisation of Australian author Julie Leigh’s memoir, Avalanche.
Julia and her new husband long for a child together. Enough to gather their courage and explore IVF treatment. As she navigates a successful career as an artist with the demands of her relationship and hopes of motherhood, this real-life account follows the making and breaking of her dreams.
The Barbican Theatre Productions, Fertility Fest and Sydney Theatre Company co-production is directed by Australian director Anne-Louise Sarks.
Merce Cunningham Trust – Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event
Tue 16 Apr, 7.45pm, Barbican Theatre
As part of the Merce Cunningham Centennial, a global celebration of the vastly influential American choreographer, the Barbican presents Night of 100 Solos on 16 April 2019, which would have been Cunningham’s 100th birthday.
In Night of 100 Solos, the largest Cunningham Event ever conceived, 75 dancers will be distributed across three venues: the Barbican; BAM in New York City and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles. On each of these stages, dancers perform a unique collection of 100 solos Cunningham choreographed over the course of his career, with live music and a bespoke set design. Nearly half of Cunningham’s former company members participate in the creation of this Event, led at the Barbican by Londoner Daniel Squire.
The Barbican honours Cunningham’s history at the Centre, with the performance featuring a solo from every world or European premiere Cunningham presented here. Dancers are drawn from companies including The Royal Ballet, Michael Clark Company, Candoco Dance Company, BalletBoyz, and Scottish Ballet.
Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre
Tue 5–Sat 9 Feb
Barbican Theatre and The Pit
Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre, under its Artistic Director, Evgeny Pisarev, present The Cherry Orchard (5–6 Feb) and The Good Person of Szechwan (8–9 Feb) in the Barbican Theatre plus a new performance without words, Mother’s Field, based on a story by Chingiz Aitmatov, in The Pit.
Russian screen and stage star, Victoria Isakova, plays Lyubov Ranevskaya in Vladimir Mirzoyev's enigmatic, soulful production of Chekhov’s prophetic masterpiece. The Cherry Orchard embodies the spirit of Russia at the turn of the 20th century and this ghostly, contemporary version conveys societal collapse recognisable in more recent events.
Yuriy Butusov directs a bold, vigorous production of Brecht’s parable, The Good Person of Szechwan. Alexandra Ursulyak gives a bold, compelling performance of the opposing cousins Shen Te and Shui Ta, painting a vivid picture of an individual trapped by circumstance and the unfairness of humans and gods alike.
Barbican Art Gallery presents London-based artist, filmmaker and 2018 Jarman award-winner, Daria Martin’s first solo commission for a major London public gallery, in The Curve. Martin stages a series of intimate encounters with an extensive archive of dream diaries. Combining digital gaming technology and anamorphic optics, the artist aims to create an immersive film environment, in which visitors can explore the unconscious and vivid memories of her grandmother who fled from the Holocaust. These forensically recorded accounts created over a 35 year period, initially for the purposes of psychoanalysis, frequently return to the curious and traumatic history of her childhood home, a modernist villa in the city of Brno, then Czechoslovakia. Martin envisages that the installation will become simultaneously a portrait of the artist’s ancestor, a self-portrait and an exploration of intolerance, migration, loss, and resilience.
For information and images please visit: http://www.barbican.org.uk/DariaMartinNews.
Lee Krasner: Living Colour
Thu 30 May–Sun 1 Sep, Barbican Art Gallery
Media View: Wed 29 May, 10am–1pm
Lee Krasner: Living Colour is the first retrospective in Europe for over 50 years of American artist Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984), opening in May 2019. One of the pioneers of abstract expressionism, Krasner made work reflecting the feeling of possibility and experiment in New York in the post-war period. The exhibition features nearly 100 works – many on show in the UK for the first time – from across her 50-year career, and tells the story of a formidable artist, whose importance has often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock.
The exhibition celebrates Krasner’s spirit for invention – including striking early self-portraits; a body of energetic charcoal life drawings; original photographs of her proposed department store window displays, designed during the war effort; and her acclaimed ‘Little Image’ paintings from the 1940s with their tightly controlled geometries. It also features collages comprised of torn-up earlier work and a selection of her most impressive large-scale abstract paintings. This work is accompanied by rare photography and film from the period, in an elegant exhibition design by David Chipperfield Architects.
For information and images please visit: http://www.barbican.org.uk/LeeKrasnerNews.
Sep 2019–Jan 2020, The Curve
Part of Life Rewired
Barbican Art Gallery has commissioned the artist and geographer Trevor Paglen to create a new work for The Curve. Paglen’s work spans image-making, sculpture, investigative journalism, writing and engineering. Among his primary concerns are learning to see the historical moment we live in and developing the means to imagine alternative futures. In 2012 Paglen launched an artwork into distant orbit around Earth in collaboration with Creative Time and MIT, contributed research and cinematography to the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour in 2014, and created a radioactive public sculpture for the exclusion zone in Fukushima, Japan in 2015. This autumn, he will launch a satellite into outer space with the Nevada Museum of Art.
Paglen's visual work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; as well as numerous other solo and group exhibitions. He won the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2017 and has been nominated for the Artes Mundi 8 Award.
For information and images please visit: http://www.barbican.org.uk/TrevorPaglenNews.
Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Fri 4 Oct 2019–Sun 19 Jan 2020, Barbican Art Gallery
Media View: Thu 3 Oct 2019, 10am–1pm
Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world. Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition presents a dynamic and multi-faceted history of artistic production. The first major show staged on this theme, it features both famed and little-known sites of the avant-garde – these creative spaces were incubators of radical thinking, where artists could exchange provocative ideas and create new forms of artistic expression. Focusing on global locations from London to New York, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Ibadan, the exhibition features a daily programme of live performances and full-scale recreations of selected spaces. Into the Night offers an alternative history of modern art that highlights the spirit of experimentation and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians and writers such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loie Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Jacob Lawrence, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El Salahi.
For information and images please visit: http://www.barbican.org.uk/IntotheNightNews.
Feb–May, Level G
Part of Life Rewired
Unclaimed is a Barbican-commissioned project blending academic research and public engagement, investigating what it means to grow old in today’s society.
Led by creative public engagement specialists The Liminal Space, the project began in spring 2018 with a series of interviews with 2,000 people aged over 75 from Camden, conducted by University College London’s gerontology research team. The interviews uncovered a range of narratives.
The interviews have been used to feed into an installation which opens on the Barbican’s Level G in February 2019.
Nina Wakeford – We Must Make All Men Into Machines
Throughout 2019, Level G
Part of Life Rewired
With a series of performances in the Barbican’s public spaces, Nina Wakeford will revisit and redeploy radical critiques of scientific and technological development from the 1970s and 80s, uncovering alternative feminist and anti-consumerist visions on technological development.
Based on her own research in the public spaces of the Barbican, Nina Wakeford will create a set of performances and interventions throughout the Centre which invite the audience to be able to see, or even inhabit, a different vision of technological change. The performances will emerge out of a residency in the Barbican’s Level G Studio, in which a collective ‘jury’ has been convened, re-enacting and improvising with scripts developed from these alternative technological visions.
Life Rewired Hub
Jan–Dec, Level G
Part of Life Rewired
Motivated by the need to develop and test new models of public engagement, the Barbican is constructing a temporary new venue for public programming on Level G. The Life Rewired Hub will explore the key ideas in our 2019 programme, inviting audiences to encounter the voices who are witnessing and revealing some of the elusive forces shaping our lives today.
Architects Dyvik Kahlen will design the flexible new space, which will be a platform for a year-long programme of talks, workshops, research, and residencies. These events will stem from the themes in the Life Rewired season, and a significant strand of activity co-programmed in partnership with the Royal Society and the British Council.
The Life Rewired Hub will also house an exhibition which presents curated content from the complex, vast, and all-too-often confusing discourse taking place around the impact of technology on our lives. This will feature newly-commissioned contributions from writers and thinkers including Jaron Lanier and James Bridle.
Troika – Borrowed Light
Jun 2018–May 2019, Level G
Part of Life Rewired
Borrowed Light is a suspended mechanised structure that moves a 20m-long scroll of photographic film, thereby resembling an artificial infinite loop of sunset and sunrise. The installation was formally inspired by moving panoramas and the potential these offered to blur the boundaries between experience and physical spheres, natural and man-made spaces.
Borrowed Light is a site-specific installation commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery to activate the unique architectural features of the Lightwell at the centre of the Barbican’s public spaces.
Barbican acts and exhibitions touring to other venues across the world include:
John Akomfrah: Purple
Museu Colecao Berrado, Lisbon
Oct 2018–Jan 2019
The World of Charles and Ray Eames
Oakland Museum of California
Sat Oct 13 2018–Sun Feb 17 2019
Tom Vine, Communications Officer: 0207 382 7321, firstname.lastname@example.org