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Barbican announces new digital content

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Inspired by the Barbican’s international arts programme, a curated mix of podcasts, playlists, films, videos, talks and articles enables audiences to continue to enjoy the Centre’s rich and varied programme.                                                                        

Highlights of new digital content announced today include:  

  • The Barbican’s first full-length online exhibition tour – Curator Alona Pardo takes audiences on a walkthrough of Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, exploring masculinity in all its forms
  • The Barbican Cinema Curators choose their top films set in remote and off-beat locations, to coincide with the recent release of Hlynur Pálmason’s award-winning A White, White Day (Iceland/Denmark 2019) – a new psychological drama filmed in rural Iceland  
  • A full video archive recording of Barbican Britten: Curlew River – the critically acclaimed 2013 production at St Giles’ Cripplegate staged by multimedia director Netia Jones, featuring Ian Bostridge, Gwynne Howell, Mark Stone, Neal Davies, Britten Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia Voices
  • Queer-feminist theatre icon Lois Weaver hosts a free, live, reimagined digital version of Porch Sitting, an interactive event to ease the tension of lockdown and consider some survival strategies for our new world
  • Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air, a free community-powered programme developed by the Barbican and local artists and organisations to encourage residents to get creative at home and channel the spirit of the festival

·         Subject to Change: New Horizons, a 12-month programme of new artistic work produced by a group of young creatives in response to current social, political and cultural events

All digital content is available for everyone to read, watch and listen to for free at and via the Barbican’s social channels. In addition, podcasts can also be accessed by subscribing to the Nothing Concrete podcast via Acast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


New Digital Content – full details below


Curators’ Picks: Remote Locations 

Inspired by Hlynur Pálmason’s award winning A White, White Day (Iceland/Denmark 2019) – a new psychological drama filmed in rural Iceland  - the Barbican Cinema Curators have chosen their top films also set in remote and off-beat locations, all available to view online (some platforms may incur a rental fee). These Curators’ Picks are available on Read, Watch & Listen from Friday 10 July.

Tamara Anderson chooses Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico/ France 2012, Dir Carlos Reygadas), a middle-class couple up sticks from the city and move with their two small children to rural Mexico. The landscape photography has a vivid, almost hallucinatory, quality and the family’s remote mountainside home (the director’s own) has a real Elle Décor appeal. Available to rent from YouTube.

Sonia Zadurian selects Wild (USA 2014, Dir Jean-Marc Vallée), the film follows Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) as she hikes over a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to recover from a personal tragedy. Jean-Marc Vallée’s delicate and inventive direction is particularly compelling, illustrating the lead character’s interior world without words, with seamless transitions to memories in the form of flashbacks. Available on Netflix.

Alex Davidson picks Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (USA 1991), about three generations of Gullah women, descendants of West African slaves, living on a pastoral island off the coast of South Carolina. This film inspired Beyoncé’s video album Lemonade. Its powerful musings on history, heritage and resistance, excellent performances and extraordinary visual flourishes combine to create a unique, essential piece of cinematic storytelling.



Barbican Britten: Curlew River

From Wednesday 8 July, a full video archive recording of the Barbican’s 2013 multimedia staging of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River in the atmospheric setting of the church of St Giles’ Cripplegate will be available on our Read, Watch & Listen page for a limited time.

This innovative production of Curlew River, the first of Britten’s three Church Parables, was staged by multimedia director and video artist Netia Jones, and featured a British cast led by tenor Ian Bostridge as the Madwoman, alongside Gwynne Howell, Mark Stone and Neal Davies, who were joined by Britten Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia Voices. The three sold-out performances of Curlew River received great critical acclaim and formed part of the Barbican Britten festival in November 2013, celebrating the English composer’s centenary.

An adaptation of the 15th-century Japanese Noh play Sumidagawa (Sumida River) by Juro Motomasa, Curlew River was written following Britten's first encounter with the austere and ritualized Noh theatre when on tour in Japan. While the story of Curlew River closely follows the Japanese original, Britten and his librettist William Plomer transferred the action of the play to medieval East Suffolk and gave it a specifically Christian context by introducing plainchant to open and close the work. A strange encounter between a Japanese aesthetic and a medieval mystery play, it is a work of profound emotional impact, exploring the themes of community, suffering and redemption through the figure of the Madwoman and the loss of her child. Netia Jones’ choice of contemporary costumes, an incense-filled nave, the abstract, minimalist staging and haunting monochrome projections of shingle, flowing water and birds onto a blank white stage and sail, distilled the work to its essential elements. The aesthetic was the Japanese one of contrast: black and white; sound and silence; darkness and light; grief and enlightenment.

Curlew River was a co-production between the Barbican Centre, London, Lincoln Center New York, Carolina Performing Arts and CAL Performances Berkeley. It was presented by the Barbican and performed in November 2013 at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London, by arrangement with Faber Music Ltd, London.

Also available from Wednesday 8 July is the latest episode of the Nothing Concrete podcast, which revisits an interview with director Netia Jones, music director William Lacey and tenor Ian Bostridge about the 2013 production of Curlew River. This podcast episode also features actor Tomoko Komura reading the narration from the Noh play Sumida River and even some advice on curlew spotting from Martin Holm at RSPB Rainham Marshes.

Theatre and Dance

Lois WeaverPorch Sitting

The Barbican presents queer-feminist theatre icon, Lois Weaver, in a live, reimagined online version of her Porch Sitting on Monday 27 July at 7pm.

Inspired by the notion of sitting on the porch outside your home watching the world go by, Porch Sitting is Lois Weaver’s protocol for stimulating public contemplation and conversation around our collective future. Now in lockdown, Lois brings the porch online as she hosts this interactive event to ease the tension of lockdown and consider some survival strategies for our new world.

Porch Sitting is a free but ticketed event with tickets limited to one per participant, available from 10am on Wednesday 15 July. It uses video conferencing software Zoom. Audiences are invited to join a room and substitute their profile picture for a photo of a favourite place. People will be randomly picked to simply sit quietly on the ‘porch’ with Lois or join in some casual conversation, with their favourite-place on screen. Remaining participants will listen in and see the images. The Zoom waiting room will be open from 6.45pm.

Lois Weaver is a multi-award winning artist, activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London. As one half of international performance troupe Split Britches she has been creating and touring work with her collaborator Peggy Shaw for over 40 years. Split Britches’ latest production, Last Gasp, was scheduled this summer at the Barbican but it was disrupted by COVID-19.

Journalists please note: there are a limited number of press tickets available to review Porch Sitting. Please contact [email protected] to book a press ticket.


Visual Arts

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography – online exhibition tour

As the Barbican prepares to reopen its Art Gallery on Monday 13 July, curator Alona Pardo takes audiences on the first full-length online exhibition walkthrough of Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. In this 45-minute tour, masculinity is explored in all its forms, discussing themes of queerness, family and fatherhood, identity, sexuality and race, through the work of photographers including Adi Nes, Collier Schorr, Catherine Opie, Robert Mapplethorpe, Hank Thomas Williams, Sunil Gupta, Peter Hujar, Karen Fox, Kanel Na’ll Roach and Marianne Wax.

The film will be available to watch on the Barbican's YouTube channel and on Read, Watch & Listen.


Beyond Barbican

Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air

Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air is a reimagining of annual community festival Walthamstow Garden Party, which couldn’t go ahead as planned in Lloyd Park this year due to COVID-19. In its place, Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air has been developed by the Barbican and local artists and organisations to encourage residents to get creative at home and to channel the spirit of the festival from Wednesday 1 July through to Sunday 19 July. A community-powered programme of free activities and resources has been created to connect people with the incredible network of local residents who make the festival happen every year and to encourage families, friends and neighbours to express their own creativity too. More information can be found at:

It has also been announced today that Walthamstow Garden Party has been shortlisted for the Best Family Event Award in the Fantastic for Families Awards 2020. This award recognises the very best family events of 2019.

Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air is created by local creatives and residents; produced by the Barbican in partnership with London Borough of Waltham Forest. Supported by Arts Council England.


Creative Learning

Subject to Change: New Horizons

Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning has commissioned an innovative group of young creatives to produce powerful new artistic work that responds to the world we live in. Starting from the end of July, one creative response – ranging from poetry and music to visual arts and moving image – will be published every month for a year. Each of the twelve creative responses is created from alumni from one of the Barbican Guildhall’s Young Creatives programmes and will be supported by an artist mentor. Their work, developed just a few weeks prior to publication, will respond to current social, political and cultural events, affording audiences fresh insight into how the next generation are experiencing a world in flux.

The first creative response, by poet and drummer Remi Graves, will be a performance of a poem exploring the process, privilege and politics of breathing, and will be published on the Barbican’s website and social media channels at the end of July.

The eleven other creative responses for the programme will feature work from: Oliver Cross, Destiny Adeyemi, Jeremiah 'Sugar J' Brown & Gabriel Jones, Timalka Kalubowila, Georgia Morgan Turner, Mandisa Apena & Tice Cin, Esme Allman, Leo Long, Annie Fan & Cia Mangat, Natasia Patel, and Hector Dyer.


Creative Careers: How’ve You Really Been?

Barbican Guildhall’s Creative Careers programme has been brought online to connect with young people, supporting them to feel creative and engaged through these uncertain times. In the first session, How've You Really Been?, Creative Careers explores how some creatives and artists have adapted to challenges faced because of COVID-19, how they’ve continued their practice during lockdown including some reflections on what the future might hold. This first session is available in two parts: a recorded conversation between co-founder of learning platform Let’s Be Brief Stephanie McLaren-Neckles and radio presenter Swarzy Macaly, hosted by Creative Careers' Joseph Gray; and a long read interview about creativity, collaboration and solidarity with Hayel Watenburg, co-founder of entertainment platform, Word on the Curb, and musician and DJ, Amadeusz Olejniczak (a.k.a. DJ Amadness), talking to Creative Careers’ Kate Wyver.


Previously announced digital highlights include:

  • A full video recording of Tunnel Visions: Array – the 2018 Barbican and Culture Mile installation in Beech Street Tunnel, featuring music by Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
  • In Conversation: Karen Knorr and Anna Fox – originally part of the public programme for Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (2020), and cancelled due to the UK lockdown, this talk has been specially recommissioned and recorded for the Barbican. The artists, both featured in the exhibition, will discuss their practise, career experiences and involvement in the show
  • Chronic Youth Film Festival curated by the Barbican Young Programmers (aged between 16-25) present their Curators’ Picks of ‘coming of age’ films; championing an all-female director shortlist. It is hoped that the annual film festival, which was cancelled in March due to COVID-19, will be back at the Barbican in the autumn
  • Transpose: The Future curated by CN Lester – a powerful, captivating and affecting celebration of trans identity staged at the Barbican in 2018, available to watch online
  • Rhiannon Faith Company’s DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN – a new online prologue to the stage production of DROWNTOWN, available via the company’s and the Barbican’s Facebook pages
  • Culture Mile Play Packs for young people and their families at home in lockdown. Over 5,000 packs distributed to foodbanks and community centres across the City of London and neighbouring boroughs this summer to provide materials to families who may not have online access or play resources. Also available for anyone to download from   



The Barbican will reopen its Art Gallery and Conservatory on Monday 13 July 2020 followed by The Curve on Tuesday 11 August 2020. In line with government guidelines, new safety measures will be in place including operating at reduced capacity, timed entry slots to ensure a safe flow of visitors through the space, and tickets needing to be booked online at in advance of a visit.

For the first time, the Barbican Conservatory will be open to the public during the week – starting from Monday 13 July 2020 and running throughout summer. There will be no entrance charge but tickets will need to be booked in advance.

The Barbican Library then opens on Monday 20 July. Details of when the Barbican’s other venues and public spaces will reopen will be announced in due course. Everyone who has booked a ticket for a cancelled or postponed Barbican event is eligible for a full refund. Information on how to claim this is published here. Venue hire will also resume in the future, in accordance with government guidance.

The Barbican is encouraging audiences to make a donation so it can keep investing in the artists and organisations with whom it works. Audiences are also being asked to consider donating to the Centre’s Resident and Associate companies to support them through these difficult times.