Press room

Barbican March highlights

  • The cross-arts series Strange Loops, led by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, explores what it means to be human and whether a machine can become conscious or creative.
  • Barbican Art Gallery presents London-based artist and 2018 Jarman award-winner Daria Martin’s first solo commission for a major London public gallery, Tonight the World, opening in The Curve.
  • Ballet Black return to the Barbican for the fourth consecutive year following their previous sell-out seasons.
  • Barbican Cinema launches Hidden Figures, a new strand celebrating filmmakers who, despite directing ground-breaking films, have been neglected in the canon of world cinema.
  • Tunisian composer and oud master Anouar Brahem brings his haunting music to the Barbican in a rare live London date.


Marcus du Sautoy, Mahan Esfahani, Robert Thomas, Ben Kreukniet, Victoria Gould – Strange Loops
Mar 2019, various Barbican venues
Part of
Life Rewired

Strange Loops is a collaboration between mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, musician Mahan Esfahani, composer Robert Thomas, visual artist Ben Kreukniet and performer Victoria Gould. In a series of curated events 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.

The Eternal Golden Braid: Gödel Escher Bach
Sat 9 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm
Part of
Life Rewired

Strange Loops launches with a performance lecture on Artificial Intelligence and the arts. With the help of harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and composer Robert Thomas, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy guides the audience through the extraordinary architecture of Bach’s work and beyond, explores the paradoxical world of Escher and introduces the elusive logical ideas of Gödel. Bach’s work has always been considered mathematical but is it possible to algorithmically generate music that convinces an audience that it is in fact composed by Bach and not a machine? As part of this event, Mahan Esfahani performs a musical Turing test with the audience to see if it can differentiate between music by Bach and a piece created by a machine.

The evening opens with a pre-recorded interview between du Sautoy and Douglas Hofstadter, whose 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid inspired the Strange Loops series.

Ben Kreukniet – Behind a Facade of Order
March-May 2019, Level G
Part of
Life Rewired

In response to the seemingly impossible worlds of M C Escher, Ben Kreukniet creates an algorithmic installation which builds a tangled hierarchy between human, machine and architecture. Dutch artist Escher was fascinated by spatial loops and seemingly impossible worlds. What would he have done with today’s technology?

Using the architecture of the Barbican as a starting point, Behind a Facade of Order constructs a complex digital world of feedback loops and visual paradox. As the movement of passers-by feeds the program, the constantly-evolving imagery blurs reality and virtual space.

Marcus du Sautoy and Victoria Gould – I is a strange loop
Thu 21–Sat 23 Mar 2019, The Pit
Press night: Thu 21 Mar 2019, 7.45pm
Part of
Life Rewired

From the creative ensemble behind Complicité’s sensational A Disappearing Number, this two-hander is an intriguing take on mortality, consciousness and artificial life.

Alone in a cube that glows in the darkness, X is content with his infinite universe and abstract thought. But then Y appears, insisting they interact, exposing him to her sensory and physical existence. Each begins to hanker after what the other has until a remarkable thing happens…involving a strange loop.

I is a strange loop is directed by Dermot Keaney.


Love and Anarchy: The Films of Lina Wertmüller
Hidden Figures
Wed 6–Sun 31 Mar 2019

This month Barbican Cinema launches Hidden Figures, a new strand celebrating filmmakers who, despite directing ground-breaking films, have been neglected in the canon of world cinema.

Love and Anarchy: The Films of Lina Wertmüller presents newly restored films from this Italian director who became the first woman to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar® and then went on to make a string of brilliant satires and black comedies in the 1970s.

Unafraid to ruffle feathers, her devastating, unflinching portrayals of fascist Italy, her fierce criticism of capitalism and class hierarchies, her enthusiastic embrace of commedia dell’arte and ribald humour and her dissections of machismo and entitled masculinity, mark Wertmüller as a unique and brave filmmaker.

Chronic Youth Film Festival
Sat 23–Sun 24 Mar 2019, Cinema 2 & 3

The festival returns for its fifth year with a selection of screenings and events that explore the concept of youth cinema, and the coming-of age genre, through the lens of ‘escape’ - by showcasing a series of innovative films from around the globe. Curated by the Barbican Young Programmers, this year’s festival highlights include the UK Premieres of We are Thankful (2018, S. Africa, dir. Joshua Magor), Two Irenes (2018, Brazil, dir Fabio Meira) and Night Comes On (2019 US, dir. Jordana Spiro) as well as free shorts programmes, archive discoveries and special events.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Thu 14–Fri 22 Mar 2019, Cinema 1 & 2

Human Rights Watch Film Festival returns for its 23rd edition, offering fresh perspectives and critical insights on human rights concerns impacting people around the world (tickets available Wed 6 Feb for Members, Tue 12 Feb for public booking).


BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction Festival in partnership with the Barbican
Late Junction Festival Day One
Gazelle Twin + Hen Ogledd + CHAINES + Pulled By Magnets (Sebastian Rochford’s new band)

Thu 28 Feb 2019, EartH Hackney, 7.30pm
Find out more

Late Junction Festival Day Two
This Is Not This Heat + CURL + O Yama O + Carla Dal Forno (DJ set)

Fri 1 Mar 2019, EartH Hackney, 7.30pm
Find out more

BBC Radio 3’s flagship adventurous music programme, Late Junction, in partnership with the Barbican, is set to stage its first ever festival taking place at London’s newest venue EartH across two days of live music (28 Feb and 1 Mar 2019), showcasing the breadth of the programme’s ear-expanding output and featuring some of the Barbican’s contemporary music programme’s previous contributors.

Hosted by Radio 3’s culture and ideas Free Thinking programme there will also be a panel discussion at Cafe Oto at 2.30pm on 28 Feb around questions of ‘Is British Culture getting Weirder’. Chaired by Free Thinking host Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough with panellists including composer, producer and musician Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Bernholz), performer and lecturer Julia Bardsley, multi-instrumentalist and founder of Peckham Chamber Orchestra Hannah Catherine Jones, co-founder and editor of arts magazine The Quietus Luke Turner and writer and BFI curator William Fowler.

BBC Radio 3 Late Junction Festival produced by the Barbican in association with Reduced Listening
Find out more
here and here.
Branford Marsalis Quartet
with Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis, Justin Faulkner
+ Nikki Yeoh
Fri 1 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm

In this special Barbican date, audiences can sample the artistry and instrumental brilliance of the Branford Marsalis Quartet, which embodies the essence of jazz in their ability to move effortlessly from individual virtuosity to remarkable interaction. Featuring saxophonist Branford Marsalis, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner, the group’s cohesion is the outcome of many years together – on the road and in the studio. This is a band that patently enjoys playing together, maintaining a musicality and dynamic on stage that sets it apart as one of the great live experiences in today’s jazz. Jazz FM Instrumentalist of the year in 2017, Nikki Yeoh opens with a solo piano set, drawing from the music on her acclaimed solo album Solo Gemini.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Serious.

Arcadi Volodos in recital
Thu 7 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Following a highly acclaimed Barbican recital in 2015, Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos returns to home territory with Russian repertoire including piano works by Scriabin and Rachmaninov. Also featured as part of the programme are Schubert’s Sonata No 11 in F minor and Six moments musicaux. Volodos is celebrated for his exquisite sensitivity and expressive range as much as for his impeccable technique.

Josep-Ramon Olivé (baritone)
Fri 8 Mar 2019, LSO St Luke’s, 1pm

The ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Stars series returns for another performance of emerging young talent tipped for stardom at LSO St Luke’s, this time with Spanish baritone, Josep-Ramon Olivé performing works by Schubert, Korngold, Richard Strauss and a new work by Raquel García-Tomás commissioned by L'Auditori Barcelona, Palau de la Música Catalana and ECHO.

Supported by Classical Futures Europe and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams
with Dave Holland, Django Bates, Nasheet Waits
+ Kit Downes & Tom Challenger
Fri 15 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm 

This rare London live date at the Barbican sees the haunting music of Tunisian composer and oud master Anouar Brahem in a setting that draws together Brahem’s profound insight into Arab music alongside his fascination with a broader canvas. Here he will present material from his latest recording Blue Maqams (ECM), alongside pianist Django Bates, drummer Nasheet Waits and master bassist Dave Holland.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Serious. Pianist Kit Downes presents the opening set with music from his forthcoming ECM album in duo with saxophonist Tom Challenger, linking into the 50th anniversary of ECM Records.

Bach: St John Passion
Les Arts Florissants with conductor William Christie
Tue 19 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 7pm

Les Arts Florissants and music director William Christie return to Barbican Presents with a Lent performance of Bach’s St John Passion. William Christie brings a lifetime’s experience of performing Bach’s great retelling of Christ’s passion to this concert. Reinoud Van Mechelen as the Evangelist leads a youthful cast of soloists including Anthony Gregory (tenor), Katherine Watson (soprano), Carlo Vistoli (countertenor), Renato Dolcini (bass-baritone) and Alex Rosen (bass-baritone).

Brad Mehldau + Britten Sinfonia
Sat 16 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm 

Brad Mehldau and Britten Sinfonia come together for a concert in which they will present the UK premiere performance of the new Concerto for Piano and Orchestra written by Mehldau and co-commissioned by the Barbican. The evening’s programme will also feature orchestral pieces – arrangements of Bach – interspersed with solo improvisations by Brad Mehldau in dialogue with these orchestral works. Improvisations are Mehldau’s forte for which he is so highly regarded.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Britten Sinfonia.

Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali
Sat 30 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Founded in the 1990s, Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali is an internationally acclaimed Qawwali group, led by brothers Rizwan and Muazzam. They come from a direct family line of Qawwali vocal music that spans over five centuries and are the nephews and disciples of the legendary Qawwali maestro Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who performed at the Barbican in 1993.

The group returns to the Centre as part of their spring 2019 tour (following their well-received performance here in March 2017), bringing their imaginative reinterpretation of this devotional and popular form of Sufi music.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Asian Arts Agency.

London Symphony Orchestra: Diana Damrau sings Strauss
Sun 31 Mar 2019, Barbican Hall, 7pm

The Diana Damrau sings Strauss series at the Barbican comes to its finale in this concert with the LSO and conductor Gianandrea Noseda. The programme features the final scene of Richard Strauss’ opera Capriccio, written at the end of his life as well as Iain Bell’s The Hidden Place, which sets poetry by Christa Palmer, opera singer and aunt of soprano soloist Diana Damrau, to music and depicts the intimate moments shared by two lovers throughout the four seasons of the year. Also part of the programme are Strauss’s Don Juan, the breakaway tone poem which solidified the 24-year-old composer’s reputation and Till Eulenspiegel, which chronicles the misadventures of a German peasant hero.

Part of Diana Damrau sings Strauss.

BBCSO highlight

The BBC Symphony Orchestra explore the life and work of György Ligeti in a Total Immersion Day which offers a rare opportunity to explore the composer’s works – both the familiar and the less often performed – and to reassess one of the most influential voices of the 21st century. The many facets of Ligeti’s output from his work in Hollywood, most famously in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the truly avant-garde will be explored across the day through film, lecture and concerts. The main evening event in the Barbican Hall (7.30pm) will feature leading soloists, including Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich.


Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) – Medea
Wed 6–Sat 9 March 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wed 6 Mar 2019, 7.45pm

Award-winning Simon Stone directs the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (formerly Toneelgroep Amsterdam) ensemble in a taut contemporary retelling of Euripides’ Medea. Marieke Heebink’s star turn as the central protagonist Anna won her the prestigious Dutch acting award, the Theo d’Or.

After involuntary confinement in a psychiatric hospital, Anna, once a successful doctor, is determined to put things right. Willing to forgive her husband’s affair with a younger woman, she wants a fresh start with him and their children. But he has different plans. Sidelined and in danger of losing everything, she is driven into a corner and sees only one way out. With incomparable performances by the ensemble, magnified at times by live video, audiences are turned into complicit witnesses.

Medea is performed in Dutch with English surtitles.

Ballet Black – Triple Bill
Thu 14–Sun 17 Mar 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Fri 15 Mar, 7.45pm

Ballet Black return to the Barbican for the fourth consecutive year following their previous sell-out seasons.

Led by Artistic Director Cassa Pancho, recent recipient of the Freedom of the City of London for her contribution to diversity in ballet, the company celebrates dancers of black and Asian descent.

Ingoma (Song), created by company dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November is a fusion of ballet, African dance and singing. This world premiere and Barbican co-commission portrays a milestone moment in South African history and imagines the struggles of black miners and their families in 1946, when 60,000 of them took courageous strike action.

Ballet Black reprise Martin Lawrance’s ‘wickedly intelligent’ (The Guardian) Penduluman intimate duet which premiered in 2009 and the choreographer’s first work made for the company. An original, light-hearted work by Scottish Ballet’s choreographer-in-residence, Sophie Laplane, also a world premiere, completes the Triple Bill.

Ursula Martinez – A Family Outing: 20 Years On
Wed 27–Sat 30 Mar 2019, The Pit
Press night: Wed 27 Mar 2019, 7.45pm
Part of
Life Rewired

Twenty years after bringing her parents onstage in the sublime A Family Outing, Ursula Martinez attempts to recreate the show, without her dad, and with a mother who has been diagnosed with early stage dementia.

Absorbed in wryly honest and frank conversation, a mother and daughter expose the banalities, hilarity, foibles and frustrations of their relationship. Contrasting past and present, they bicker, cajole and encourage each other through this endearingly ad hoc, entertaining and ultimately uplifting performance.

Through a canny interplay with the first production, this bracingly funny new show blurs the lines between artifice and reality while grappling with identity and the march of time.

Wayward Productions in association with Complicité
Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Mon 25 Mar–Sat 13 Apr 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 28 Mar 2019, 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.


Daria Martin: Tonight the World
Thu 31 Jan–Sun 7 Apr 2019, The Curve
Media View: Wed 30 Jan 2019, 10am–1pm
Part of
Life Rewired

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. Combining film and computer gaming technology, Martin creates an atmospheric environment in which visitors can explore the vivid memories of her grandmother, artist Susi Stiassni, who in 1938 fled with her family from the former Czechoslovakia under the imminent threat of Nazi occupation. Martin draws on an extensive archive of her grandmother’s dream diaries amounting to over 20,000 pages. These forensically recorded accounts were created over a 35 year period, initially for the purposes of psychoanalysis. Martin envisages that the installation will become simultaneously a portrait of her ancestor, a self-portrait and an exploration of intergenerational trauma, migration, loss, and resilience.

For information and images please visit:

In Conversation: Daria Martin and Laura Mulvey
Thu 7 March 2019, 7pm, Auditorium 2

Daria Martin and feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in conversation, exploring themes of psychoanalysis and female legacies of experimental filmmaking

Social Dreaming Matrix
Wed 6 Feb, 6 Mar & 20 Mar 2019, 8pm The Curve

Led by psychoanalyst and experienced facilitator Laurie Slade, the social dreaming matrix is an interactive after-hours session, in which participants share dreams and make associations, as a way of tapping into the ‘collective unconscious’.

Family Storytelling: Dreams, Memory & Home
Sun 10 & 17 Mar 2019, 12.30pm, The Curve

Storyteller Vanessa Woolf (London Dreamtime) leads a series of family storytelling sessions about dreaming, memories & sense of home.

Film-work as Dream-work
Thu 28 Mar 2019, 6.30pm
Cinema 3

Writer and art critic Dr Maria Walsh curates a programme of artists’ film and speaks to artist and filmmaker Daria Martin about translating dreams into film.

To find out more about specific events as they are confirmed, check the website for full listings:

Architecture on Stage
Lütjens Padmanabhan, Monday 18 March 2019, 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Benson + Forsyth, Thursday 28 March 2019, 7pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1

The Architecture Foundation and the Barbican in partnership, present Architecture on Stage – a programme of talks by the world's leading architects. In March Oliver Lütjens and Thomas Padmanabhan present the recent work of their Zurich based practice, Lütjens Padmanabhan, and British architect Gordon Benson talks about the historical and cultural influences that have shaped Benson + Forsyth, the practice he co-founded.


Feb–May 2019
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.

Life Rewired Hub
Jan–Dec 2019
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
Until May 2019
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 Barbican Art Gallery to activate the unique architectural features of the Lightwell at the centre of the Barbican’s public spaces.


Brutal Textures: Sculptural Ceramic Course with Matthew Raw
Saturday Group
Session 1 – Barbican Shop – Sat 2 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm            
Session 2 – Barbican Shop – Sat 9 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm            
Session 3 – Barbican Shop – Sat 16 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm         
Session 4 – Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton – Sat 30 Mar 2019, 11am to 2pm 

Brutal Textures: Sculptural Ceramic Course with Matthew Raw
Sunday Group
Session 1 – Barbican Shop – Sun 3 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm         
Session 2 – Barbican Shop – Sun 10 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm       
Session 3 – Barbican Shop – Sun 17 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm       
Session 4 – Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton – Sun 31 Mar 2019, 11am–2pm

This unique course of workshops led by artist Matthew Raw (former artist-in-residence at the V&A Ceramics Collection and co-creator of 'Clay Station' at Seven Sisters Station) will allow participants to interpret architectural features of the Barbican through the medium of clay. 

The course will begin with a guided Barbican Architecture tour, introducing brutal and subtle textures that will inspire the creation of a set of experimental clay test tiles. These will then inform a larger-scale sculpture made up of hand-rolled 'slabs' of clay, created during an ongoing series of workshops at the Barbican Shop, and also at Matthew Raw’s studio in Hoxton in east London. Participants will take their work through the complete ceramic process and leave with a finished sculpture. The course will culminate with the opportunity for participants to exhibit their finished works in an evening drinks reception in the Barbican Shop on Wednesday 8 May, as part of London Craft Week.

For the duration of the course, a space in the Barbican Shop will also be transformed into a temporary workspace where the evolution of the pieces can be seen.

Brutal Structures: Architecture Walking Tour with Chris Rogers
Sat 30 Mar 2019, 10.30am–12pm  
Sat 30 Mar 2019, 2–3.30pm  
Tours begin at the Barbican Shop

Beginning and ending at the Barbican Shop on Level G of the Barbican Centre, a 90-minute walking tour discovering the City of London’s Brutalist architectural treasures with historian, writer and lecturer Chris Rogers (author of How to Read London – a crash course in London architecture).

Between the City of London’s facetted glass skyscrapers and carved stone palazzos stand buildings from another era executed in a very different material: concrete. They include a robust tower for a Livery Company, a state-of-the-art institutional space in Victorian disguise, a civic plaza that straddles past and future and an insurance market whose new home became an icon.