Barbican May highlights
- AI: More than Human is an unprecedented survey of the creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence.
- Lee Krasner: Living Colour, coming to Barbican Art Gallery, is the first retrospective in Europe for over 50 years of American artist Lee Krasner.
- Maxine Peake stars in Julia Leigh’s adaptation of her powerful memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story, in the Barbican Theatre.
- Barbican Cinema presents a triple bill of Agnès Varda’s cinematic explorations of her Parisienne neighbours.
- Sound Unbound, the ambitious weekend-long project celebrating classical music from the medieval era to the present day, returns to the Barbican.
An exhibition conceived and curated by Barbican International Enterprises
Co-produced with Groninger Forum
Lead Sponsor Bupa Global
With additional support from Japan Centre
Media Partners: Dazed Media and Time Out
With immersive art installations, interactive exhibits and digital projects, major new exhibition AI: More than Human is an unprecedented survey of the creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence, exploring the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology.
This festival-style exhibition starts with the technology’s early roots, which can be traced back to the century-old traditions of Japanese Shintoism, and takes visitors through Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage’s early experiments in computer science, all the way to AI’s developmental leaps in modern times. Through some of the most cutting edge research projects including DeepMind, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sony CSL, it will tell the story of humankind’s age-old dream of creating intelligence.
The exhibition will showcase the work of artists, researchers and scientists Memo Akten, Joy Buolamwini, Certain Measures (Andrew Witt & Tobias Nolte), Es Devlin, Stephanie Dinkins, Justine Emard, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Stefan Hurtig & Detlef Weitz, Hiroshi Ishiguro & Takashi Ikegami, Mario Klingemann, Kode 9, Lawrence Lek, Daito Manabe & Yukiyasu Kamitani, Massive Attack & Mick Grierson, Lauren McCarthy, Yoichi Ochiai, Neri Oxman, Qosmo, Anna Ridler, Chris Salter, Sam Twidale and Marija Avramovic, teamLab and Universal Everything.
Visitors will get a chance to interact directly with the exhibits to experience AI’s capabilities first hand – and try to answer the big question: what does it mean to be human?
Adrian Wootton’s Hollywood Legends: Barbra Streisand
Wed 8 May 2019, Cinema 2, 6.25pm
Adrian Wootton will give one of his characteristically animated discussions of the life and career of one of Hollywood’s great stars, Barbra Streisand, ahead of the screening of Funny Girl.
Funny Girl (U)
Adrian Wootton’s Hollywood Legends
US 1968, Dir William Wyler, 155 min
Wed 8 May 2019, Cinema 3, 8.10pm
This lavish musical biopic marked the sensational screen debut of Barbra Streisand, as she brilliantly embodied the extraordinary vaudeville star Fanny Brice.
Agnès Varda Triple Bill (12A*)
Architecture on Film
Tue 21 May 2019, Cinema 1, 6.30pm
- Diary of a Pregnant Woman [L’opera-mouffe] (France, 1958, Agnés Varda, 17 mins)
- The So-Called Caryatids (France, 1984, Agnés Varda, 13 mins)
- Daguerroéotypes (France, 1975, Agnès Varda, 75 min)
A triple bill presenting Agnès Varda’s cinematic explorations of her Parisienne neighbours – from lovers and drifters to shopkeepers and statues. Three rarely screened films journeying from the lives of the silent majority to Baudelaire, via the magic of film.
Curated by the Architecture Foundation in partnership with the Barbican.
Bebop New York: Birth of the American Indie
23 May & 28 May
This Barbican season – throughout May and June – presents a selection of films made in New York from the mid-50s to the mid-60s, all emerging from the city’s burgeoning bohemia. At a time when Hollywood films set in New York were still shot on Californian backlots, here are films shot on location, which capture urban life in its raw, unrefined state. Allied to this, there is a sense of spontaneity and immediacy that is new, and a first-person, experiential shooting style which allows us to inhabit the filmmaker’s way of seeing.
The season opens with John Cassevates’ Shadows (US 1959) a stunningly innovative film that was a harbinger of the coming New American Cinema and charts the existential crises of three African-American siblings in Manhattan in the late 1950s.
Also screening this month is Brakhage: An Adventure of Perception, a series of three shorts (made between 1958–59) that show how filmmaker Stan Brakhage broke with traditional convention that a film should record and tell a story; instead he documented everyday events from his daily life and pioneered a direct, first person experiential shooting style, achieving a new level of intimacy in cinema.
For further information please visit:
Las Maravillas de Mali
Thu 2 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Formed in the early 1960s, Las Maravillas de Mali has since become a flagship ensemble of the Afro-Cuban musical tradition, singing in Spanish, Bambara and French. The legendary orchestra’s current line-up will take to the Barbican stage for the first time in May 2019, accompanied by Guinean singer Mory Kanté, and original member Boncana Maïga. In the middle of the Cold War, the early Sixties was a period of Communist friendship between the Africa of independence and the revolutionary Cuba of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and in 1964, the Cuban government invited ten young musicians from Mali to study in Havana. These young people spent seven years studying music in Cuba, marking the beginning of Las Maravillas de Mali. The group recorded one self-titled album in 1968, which included the song that became one of the greatest hits in this revolutionary era: Rendez-Vous Chez Fatimata, combining Cuban influences with traditional Malian sounds. Maravillas de Mali’s new album – Africa Mia – will be out on Decca Records on 26 April 2019.
Produced by the Barbican in association with Como No.
Tue 8 May 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm
Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman presents a song recital that ranges from some of the greatest French art songs to John Cage, typical of her breadth of style. She is a multi-award winning soprano who is equally at home mentoring the next generation of vocal stars on Canada’s Got Talent as performing in the concert hall. The programme includes Ravel’s Shéhérezade; Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis; Duparc’s Chanson Triste, L'Invitation au voyage, Phydilé and La vie antérieure; Cage’s The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs; Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras and selected cabaret songs by William Bolcom. Brueggergosman last appeared at the Barbican in the acclaimed production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.
Manana//Cuba x Jazz re:freshed
Electronic explorations in Afro-Cuban and UK jazz
Sun 12 May 2019, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm
Manana//Cuba returns to the Barbican’s contemporary music programme for another night of special one-off collaborations, co-curated with Jazz re:freshed and Cuban partner The Cuban Joint, featuring UK jazz and electronic artists alongside musicians from Cuba.
One of the two featured collaborations of the evening sees UK artists Yussef Dayes (kit), Kevin Haynes (sax), Sarah Tandy (keys) and Paul Dolby aka Seiji (electronics) team up with Cuban artists Adel Gomez (congas) and Feliciano Arango (bass). Rehearsals for this element of the show will start in Havana in the week leading up to their Barbican date. The second collaboration will feature Manchester duo Space Afrika (electronics) and Ariwo’s Hammadi Valdes (percussion) from Cuba, with the artists coming together in London in the run-up of the concert.
Manana//Cuba x Jazz re:freshed is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.
Thu 16 May 2019, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm
Hailing from the archipelago of Orkney in Scotland, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper explores the natural world of birds, the sea and landscape, manifesting in an immersive evening of music, words and imagery. In his Barbican programme debut at Milton Court Concert Hall this spring, Cooper will play tracks from his seminal first solo record Solan Goose and perform new material from his forthcoming album Sule Skerry (out on Phases on 17 May 2019).
Originally part of The Magnetic North and Erland & The Carnival, Cooper has a diverse musical history. His debut album Solan Goose was an ode to escapism, written to ease the anxieties of working in a busy city, featuring piano, strings, electronics and wild bird calls; the title tracks on the album are a nod to the local Orkney dialect for birdlife.
Sound Unbound festival
Sat 18 & Sun 19 May 2019, various venues
Sound Unbound, the ambitious weekend-long project celebrating classical music from the medieval era to the present day returns 18-19 May and, for the first time, will be completely free. A Culture Mile event programmed by the Barbican, the festival will explore unexpected spaces across Culture Mile, celebrating fantastic music alongside the history and heritage of the area. The weekend features artists for whom the boundaries between classical music and contemporary, experimental music and jazz have been blurred – or never even existed in the first place. With multiple concerts taking place simultaneously, each festival-goer will be able to pick and choose from a vast range of performances and create their own unique version of Sound Unbound. The performances will include a wide variety of artists including celebrated guitarist Miloš, singer Nora Fischer, viol player Liam Byrne, and electric guitar quartets Dither and Zwerm, as well as Britten Sinfonia, London Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, and many more.
Magdalena Kožená and Yefim Bronfman in recital
Mon 20 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
International opera star, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, whose profound musicianship and beguiling artistry continues to attract critical acclaim, and pianist Yefim Bronfman present a programme of selected Brahms songs; selected songs from Mussorgsky’s The Nursery, Shostakovich’s Satires, Op 109 and Bartók’s Village Scenes.
Saint Etienne: Tiger Bay
with the London Contemporary Orchestra
Wed 22 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Much-revered electro pop trio Saint Etienne make a welcome return to the Barbican this May, with support from the London Contemporary Orchestra. Here they will perform their seminal album Tiger Bay in its entirety to mark the 25th anniversary of the album, as well as a selection of material from their back catalogue. Tiger Bay is regarded by many as Saint Etienne’s finest album. Released in 1994, it was a ground-breaking blend of electronica with traditional folk melodies, which included the singles Pale Movie, Like A Motorway and Hug My Soul. It was arranged and conducted by the late David Whitaker, who had worked with Serge Gainsbourg, Marianne Faithfull and Lee Hazlewood. The group have never performed the album with a full orchestra before, and this 25th anniversary show at the Barbican, which ties in with a box set re-issue, will be their only live performance in 2019.
Orlando di Lasso: Lagrime di San Pietro
Los Angeles Master Chorale and conductor Grant Gershon, dir. Peter Sellars
Thu 23 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm
Peter Sellars directs a haunting dramatization – his first a cappella staging – of Orlando di Lasso’s hour-long Renaissance masterpiece Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St Peter), transformed by the 21 singers of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (the largest professional chorus in the US and choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall) and their artistic director Grant Gershon. Orlando di Lasso’s renaissance madrigals of sorrow and remorse are set to poetry by Luigi Tansillo (1510-1568). ‘I accept responsibility’ is the fundamental theme of this work depicting the seven stages of grief that St Peter experienced after his denial of Christ. Here Sellars translates Lagrime through a contemporary lens, suggesting a powerful allegory that by taking responsibility and facing our past head-on, we can forge a more resolved and fulfilling future.
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia: Mahler's Sixth Symphony
Conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano
Sat 25 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
The Music Director of the Royal Opera House, Sir Antonio Pappano, brings his Italian orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, to the Barbican for the life-and-death struggle of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in May. With Sir Antonio Pappano in the role of Music Director since 2005, the orchestra has enjoyed extraordinary success building an international reputation for itself, and it has appeared at some of the major music festivals and venues across the globe.
The Milk Carton Kids
+ Rosie Carney
Wed 29 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm
This spring, American Indie acoustic folk duo, The Milk Carton Kids, return to the UK and Europe following the 2018 release of their latest Grammy-nominated album All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn't Do (ANTI). For their Barbican date in May Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale will present new songs as well as material from their back catalogue. Since their 2015 studio album Monterey, both artists had to go through some challenging life experiences, and although they didn't approach the new album conceptually, their experiences provided the background for this highly personal new record.
Support comes from indie-folk singer-songwriter Rosie Carney who performs material from her debut album Bare.
Benjamin Grosvenor in recital
Thu 16 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Internationally recognised for his electrifying performances and insightful interpretations, Benjamin Grosvenor is welcomed back to the Barbican following his critically-acclaimed appearance with the Doric Quartet at Milton Court Concert Hall in February 2019 – this time with a typically imaginative and varied solo recital programme. The pianist will contrast the Romantic drama of Robert Schumann’s Blumenstück and Kreisleriana, and Liszt’s Réminicences de Norma (based on Bellini’s opera), with Janáček‘s Piano Sonata 1.X.1905, his only sonata for the instrument, and Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives.
Benjamin Grosvenor plays Chopin with the Doric Quartet
Sun 26 May 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm
In this second concert together at the Barbican, Benjamin Grosvenor and the Doric Quartet complete their pocket-sized Chopin concerto cycle with the second Piano Concerto. Also featured as part of the programme are Janáček’s String Quartet No 1, Kreutzer’s Sonata, and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No 2.
Il Pomo d’Oro
Il Pomo d’Oro with Joyce DiDonato
Fri 31 May 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Joyce DiDonato returns to the Barbican to play another Handel heroine in this concert performance: Agrippina, a woman on a mission in Handel’s first operatic masterpiece, which caused a sensation in Carnival season in Venice in 1709 and established his reputation as an opera composer. DiDonato leads an outstanding international cast also featuring Elsa Benoit (Poppea), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Ottone), Franco Fagioli (Nerone), Luca Pisaroni (Claudio), Andrea Mastroni (Pallante) and Carlo Vistoli (Narciso).
Il Pomo d’Oro / Edgar Moreau
Sat 1 Jun 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm
The Barbican’s Il Pomo d’Oro focus ends with a programme of cello concertos framed by orchestral music, featuring cello concertos by Platti, Tartini and Boccherini, as well as Handel’s Concerto Grosso; Durante’s Concerto for strings in F minor; Hasse’s Sinfonia in G minor, Op 5 No 6 and Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, Op 6 No 1. Soloist, French cellist Edgar Moreau, featured in the ECHO Rising Stars series in May 2017.
Supported by Classical Futures Europe and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
On Wed 1 May 2019 Sir Simon Rattle conducts a study in harmony, with music from Igor Stravinsky, John Adams and Sir Harrison Birtwistle. John Adams’ Harmonielehre marries the rich and expressive harmonies of late Romanticism with the postmodernist developmental techniques of 20th-century minimalism. LSO Music Director Sir Simon Rattle includes this large-scale work with Shadow of Night by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments. On Sun 5 May, 150 years since the French composer’s Berlioz’s death, Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO bring to life one of his most powerful musical stories, the Symphonie fantastique’s emotionally charged tale of an artist’s ‘hopeless love’. It is paired with a further performance of John Adams Harmonielehre. On Wed 8 May, Sir Simon conducts Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No 5. In Sinfonia da Requiem, Britten’s rich, yearning harmonies reveal a sombre and dramatic warning of the cost of conflict.
Celebrations of sound and the seasons fill the programme on Thurs 30 May, led by LSO Conductor Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas. The cycle of the year is the backdrop to John Cage’s The Seasons, with each moment, from the austerity of winter to the stirring of spring, conjured up through vivid orchestral colours. The warmth and radiance of the solo instrument takes centre stage in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, played by soloist Julia Fischer, culminating in the spirited, dancing finale. However, in the Concerto for Orchestra which completes the evening, Bartók lets every instrument and section shine, resulting in a joyful celebration of music and the collection of individuals that makes up the orchestra.
THEATRE AND DANCE
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.
Fertility and infertility take centre stage in this three-week programme of performances and panel discussions that brings together medical experts, artists and audiences. Offering a multitude of views and voices, the festival draws on female and male experiences, looks at new models of family making, and seeks to break taboos around IVF.
Fertility Fest is founded by Jessica Hepburn, influential activist and author of The Pursuit of Motherhood, in partnership with theatre producer Gabby Vautier. A rare, open and collaborative platform, it aims to drive social change. This third edition features the first theatre production based on Julia Leigh’s memoir Avalanche.
Fertility Fest 2019 is part of Life Rewired, a season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Barbican/Fertility Fest – Avalanche: A Love Story by Julia Leigh
Sat 27 Apr–Sun 12 May 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wed 1 May 2019, 7.45pm
Part of Life Rewired
Maxine Peake is to star in Julia Leigh’s adaptation of her powerful memoir, Avalanche: A Love Story.
When a woman rekindles an early love in her late 30’s her whole life changes. Deeply in love, she and her new husband decide they want to have a child together and, like countless other couples, they make a visit to the IVF clinic, full of optimism. So begins a long and costly journey of medical procedures, nightly injections, rituals and the oscillation between high hope and the depths of despair. Avalanche lays bare the stark truth of one woman’s experience of the seductive promises made by the multi-billion-dollar IVF industry to those in the grip of a ‘snow blind’ yearning and desire to make a baby. The devastating toll on her body, her relationships and her career as an author/filmmaker, are portrayed with compelling honesty and moments of black humour.
Directed by Anne-Louise Sarks, Avalanche: A Love Story, is co-produced by the Barbican, Fertility Fest and Sydney Theatre Company and is part of the Barbican’s 2019 season Life Rewired which explores what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.
Pam Tanowitz/Kaija Saariaho/Brice Marden – Four Quartets
Wed 22–Sat 25 May 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Wed 22 May 2019, 7.45pm
First published in the UK 75 years ago, Four Quartets is considered the crowning achievement of TS Eliot’s career as a poet. Now three visionaries, Pam Tanowitz, Kaija Saariaho and Brice Marden respond to the four-part poem in a ravishing union of dance, music and visual art, as the entire work is narrated by American actor Kathleen Chalfant.
Four Quartets is a mysterious meditation on past and present, time and space, movement and stillness, replete with images of dance. Celebrated New York-based choreographer Pam Tanowitz moves her ensemble of dancers lavishly through glorious solos and duets. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s beguiling new score is played live by violinist Colin Jacobsen (The Knights) and soloists from Barbican Associate Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia. The exquisite stage design by Clifton Taylor centres on paintings by major American artist Brice Marden.
A Barbican co-commission and European premiere, this collaborative performance of the work is the first to be authorised by the TS Eliot Estate.
To mark the 75th anniversary of its UK publication by Faber & Faber in 1944, and to coincide with the production’s premiere at the Barbican, a special edition of Four Quartets is published on 16 May 2019, based on the design made by Giovanni Mardersteig for his letterpress edition of 1960.
Faso Danse Théâtre & Halles de Schaerbeek/Serge Aimé Coulibaly –
Thu 30 May–Sat 1 Jun 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 30 May 2019, 7.45pm
The spirit of Fela Kuti is ever-present in this intoxicating dance piece by Burkina Faso-born choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly, which speaks of modern-day Africa and the musical artist as freedom-loving figurehead.
In the first half all is monochrome. Dancers pulsate, whirl, plunge and vibrate, their relentless movement exploding with virtuoso energy. Projections depicting scenes of conflict serve as a backdrop for the performers, their perpetual march an urgent metaphor for the desire to keep living.
Bursts of colour propel the second half, a place reminiscent of Kuti’s Shrine nightclub, where discord was confronted just as hope blossomed from solidarity and social consciousness. While provocative messages illuminate the stage, to a score echoing jazz-infused Afrobeat, decadent dance depicts the struggles of an individual.
The Architecture Foundation and the Barbican in partnership present Architecture on Stage – a programme of talks by the world's leading architects. In May, Hans Kollhoff presents his practice, characterised by its focus on the reconstruction of the European city and Fala Atelier share their work on residential conversions and interior spaces.
Lee Krasner: Living Colour
Thu 30 May–Sun 1 Sep 2019, Barbican Art Gallery
Media View: Wed 29 May 2019, 10am–1pm
Lee Krasner: Living Colour is the first retrospective in Europe for over 50 years of American artist Lee Krasner (1908–1984). 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.
For information and images please visit: http://www.barbican.org.uk/LeeKrasnerNews.
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 opened on the Barbican’s Level G in February 2019.
Motivated by the need to develop and test new models of public engagement, the Barbican presents a temporary new venue for public programming on Level G. The Life Rewired Hub explores 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 have designed the flexible new space, which is a platform for a year-long programme of talks, workshops, research, and residencies. These events stem from the themes in the Life Rewired season, and a significant strand of activity has been co-programmed in partnership with the Royal Society and the British Council.
The Life Rewired Hub also houses 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 features specially-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.
Barbican Photography Tour with Peter Chadwick
Sat 11 May 2019, 10.30am–12pm
Sat 11 May 2019, 2–3.30pm
Tours begin at the Barbican Shop
Peter Chadwick is a London-based art director, graphic designer and educator with over 27 years of experience in the music, fashion and arts sectors, and the founder of This Brutal House – a platform to share photography and design work about Brutalism. As part of the New Brutal season, he will be leading a series of photography tours of the Barbican Centre and Barbican estate, investigating some of the lesser known corners and angles of the complex. Participants will also have the chance to share their images live on the This Brutal House Twitter and Instagram feeds, as well as having them printed and displayed in the Barbican Shop.
Brutal Structures: Architecture Walking Tour with Chris Rogers
Sat 18 May 2019, 10.30am–12pm
Sat 18 May 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.
Tom Vine, Communications Officer: 0207 382 7321, email@example.com