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Barbican October highlights

Cabaret Fledermaus Postcard
  • Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, a new Barbican Art Gallery exhibition explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world, spanning the 1880s to the 1960s.
  • The second New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival – a book fair and day of talks, workshops and screenings – explores feminist approaches to technology.
  • Continuing our commitment to bring Russia’s finest acting ensembles to London, Moscow’s prestigious Theatre of Nations makes its Barbican debut, performing two UK premieres: Shukshin’s Stories, and Chekhov’s enigmatic play Ivanov.
  • Cyberfeminism on Film: Gender, Sexuality, Technology curated by author So Mayer, takes author Donna Haraway’s The Cyborg Manifesto as a starting point to explore still radical ways of thinking about gender, sexuality and technology.
  • The Australian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Tognetti return to the Barbican for three performances, in their second year as the resident International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court.


Hidden Figures: Euzhan Palcy
Sun 6 Oct–Sat 26 Oct 2019, Cinema 1 & 2

Despite winning the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, directing Marlon Brando to an Oscar nomination, and having created a range of acclaimed dramas that explore race and liberation across the world, Euzhan Palcy’s work remains neglected in the UK, and her films are rarely shown.

The season includes her feature debut, Sugar Cane Alley (Martinque/France 1983), which remains one of cinema’s great coming-of-age films about a mischievous orphan and his indomitable grandmother. Palcy subtly criticises French colonial rule throughout the film. 

Other highlights include: Palcy’s 1989 drama A Dry White Season (USA), about the fall-out from a massacre in Apartheid-era South Africa starring Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando; and her documentary series Aimé Césaire: A Voice For History (Martinque/France 1994) which offers privileged access to the Martinique poet, author and politician.

These screenings are in partnership with HOME in Manchester who will also be showcasing Euzhan Palcy’s films in October.

Nightlife: Ourselves, Our Spaces on Film
Tue 15–Tue 29 Oct 2019, Cinema 1 & 2

Barbican Cinema presents Nightlife: Ourselves, Our Spaces on Film, a season exploring the allure and glamour of night club culture.

This takes cinema goers on a journey of passion, transgression and joy through a selection of curated films from around the world. Beginning in London, on Tuesday 15 October, with Queer Erasure? London’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife on Film + ScreenTalk – an evening of rarely screened archive film extracts drawn from the BFI National Archive – that celebrates the capital’s most cherished LGBTQ+ venues. After the programme, Simon McCallum and London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé, will discuss the films and consider what the future holds for London’s queer spaces.

Further highlights include: the Mexican cult classic Los Caifanes, Taiwanese nightclub odyssey Millennium Mambo and a foray into New York’s legendary night club Studio 54 – and its array of eccentric punters – in 54: The Director’s Cut (US 1998), Mark Christopher’s film about sex, drugs and debauchery on the dance floor.

Nightlife: Ourselves, Our Spaces on Film is programmed in association with the Barbican Art Gallery exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art.

Cyberfeminism on Film: Gender, Sexuality, Technology
Sat 5–Tue 8 Oct 2019, Cinema 2
Part of
Life Rewired

Cyberfeminism on Film: Gender, Sexuality, Technology curated by author So Mayer, takes author Donna Haraway’s The Cyborg Manifesto as a starting point to explore still radical ways of thinking about gender, sexuality and technology. Featuring animation, experimental film and video, documentary and science-fiction, these films offer a variety of genres and creative ideas for thinking about modern cyborgs and the technological world we live in.

Highlights include Conceiving Ada (US 1999, Dir Lynn Hershman Leeson) starring Tilda Swinton, a tribute to the late Barbara Hammer, plus Monika Treut’s Gendernaughts: A Journey Through Shifting Identity.


Hackney Colliery Band: Collaborations
Sat 5 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm 

This special Barbican autumn date sees the Hackney Colliery Band perform in collaboration with a host of key guest artists including father of Ethio-jazz Mulatu Astatke, Hip-Hop DJ and producer DJ Yoda, writer and performer Rob Auton, artist and writer YVA, composer and pianist Tom Rogerson and the Roundhouse Choir. Here they will present material from their recent album Collaborations: Volume One (featuring Mulatu Astatke and Angélique Kidjo) – their first new material since the critically-acclaimed Sharpener in 2016.

Produced by the Barbican.

Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti - International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court

In October 2019, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director Richard Tognetti return for their second residency as the Barbican’s International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court. The programme they bring to London once again demonstrates their imaginative programming, versatility, and unmistakable style and energy. Across the residency the orchestra performs a string arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Tognetti’s arrangement of Bach’s Canons on a Goldberg Ground, music by Adès, Webern and Britten, as well as works by Vaughan Williams and Schoenberg, performed side-by-side with Guildhall School musicians. Similar to the previous years, the residency includes a visual spectacle. Luminous is a 2005 cross-genre musical and visual collaboration with Australian photographer Bill Henson, which includes music by Britten, Janáček, Vasks and REM.

ACO: Goldberg Variations
Thu 3 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti (Violin), Erin Halyard (Keyboards)

Stravinsky Three pieces for String Quartet; Thomas Adès ‘Nightfalls’ from The Four Quarters; Bach Fourteen Canons on a Goldberg Ground, BWV 1087 (arr Tognetti); Bach Goldberg Variations (arr Labadie).

ACO: Luminous
Fri 4 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti (Violin), Bill Henson (photography, cinematography & editing), Lior (vocals).

Music from Britten and Janáček to REM and Pēteris Vasks

ACO: The Lark Ascending
Sat 5 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 7.30pm

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Guildhall Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti (violin)

Webern Five movements for string orchestra, Op 5, Britten Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending, Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht.

Darbar Festival 2019
Sat 5–Sun 13 Oct 2019, various venues 

Darbar Festival brings masters of Indian classical music and dance to the Barbican Centre and Sadler’s Wells this autumn. The Festival champions the finest improvised music around today and is dedicated to Bhai Gurmit Singh Ji Virdee (1937-2005), an inspirational teacher of the tabla. Darbar Festival was first established in 2006 in his memory. The 2019 Festival line-up at the Barbican features an array of world-class musicians and events including:

Indian Music Appreciation Course (Sat 5 & Sun 6 Oct 2019, Frobisher Rooms, 10am-6pm)

Kala Ramnath + Tabla Grooves (Thu 10 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 6.30pm)

Sudha Ragunathan + Sarod Duet (Fri 11 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 6.30pm)

Morning Bliss with Gundecha Brothers (Sat 12 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 10am)

Yoga Bliss to live music (Sat 12 & Sun 13 Oct 2019, Frobisher Rooms, 12 noon Sat & 9.15am Sun)

Afternoon Sarangi Soul (Sat 12 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 2pm) 

Manjiri Asnare-Kelkar + Jayanth Flute (Sat 12 Oct 2019, Milton Court, 6.30pm)

The Mighty Tanpura(s) by Gundecha Brothers (Sun 13 Oct 2019, Fountain Room, 12noon)

Panel Discussion: Women in Indian Classical Music (Sun 13 Oct 2019, Fountain Room 2.30pm)

Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee + Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (Sun 13 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 5.30pm)

Produced by Darbar Arts Culture and Heritage Trust (Darbar) in partnership with the Barbican.

Orange Juice for the Ears: From Space Beams to Anti-Streams
An evening of film, live performance and conversation with Beatie Wolfe
Tue 8 Oct 2019, Cinema 1, 7.30pm
Part of
Life Rewired

This special evening in the Barbican’s Cinema 1 features the retro-future work of Anglo-American singer songwriter and technology innovator Beatie Wolfe in film, live performance and conversation, exploring what music can look like in the digital age and asking what has been lost due to technological advances, what can be reclaimed, and what remains to be updated and innovated?

Beatie Wolfe is at the forefront of pioneering new formats for music that reunite the digital and physical by reimagining the vinyl experience in retro-future ways – ranging from a theatre in the palm of your hand, an album as a wearable record ‘jacket’ and a space beam from the Big Bang Horn – as well as exploring the therapeutic benefits that music can achieve and is presented in a short documentary by LA Indie Director Ross Harris.

Produced by the Barbican.

Le grand Inconnu
Mon 14 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
The Sixteen, Genesis Sixteen, Britten Sinfonia, Harry Christophers conductor
Sir James MacMillan: Le grand inconnu and The Sun Danced (UK Premiere)

Sir James MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. His latest major piece, Symphony No 5, Le grand Inconnu, receives its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in August, and comes to the Barbican for its London premiere in October. Commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, the work is a meditation on the mystery of the Holy Spirit and has been written for double choir and orchestra. At the Barbican the work will be performed by The Sixteen, joined by alumni of the training programme Genesis Sixteen, and Barbican Associate Ensemble Britten Sinfonia, conducted by long-time MacMillan collaborator Harry Christophers. The concert also features the UK premiere of MacMillan’s The Sun Danced, as well as music by Pärt and Britten.

Holly Herndon: PROTO
Wed 16 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm
Part of
Life Rewired

Holly Herndon’s vision of a digital future, and technology’s potential to guide our experience through this, is distinct and her own. This autumn she returns to the Barbican’s music programme with a specially assembled ensemble following the release of her third album PROTO (out on 10 May 2019 on 4AD). 

A hybrid of studio project and touring band, Herndon’s Barbican presentation incorporates an expanded vocal ensemble, reflections and refractions of Spawn (a nascent machine intelligence, housed in a modified gaming PC), and a newly developed A/V experience.

For the album and PROTO live shows, Holly, artist/philosopher Matthew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace have developed custom, and unprecedented AI processes for sound generation, vocal processing and visual manipulation, exploring new forms of communion that continually evolve further.

Produced by the Barbican.

Alessandro Cortini / Suzanne Ciani  
Sat 19 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm 

Italian musician, songwriter and producer Alessandro Cortini will bring his new project – a live presentation of his forthcoming albumVolume Massimo and a new A/V show – to Barbican audiences on Saturday 19 October. Cortini’s music casts the listener into an intricately rendered vortex of emotive dynamics, where he expertly maximises the boundaries of contemporary electronic music, both in his solo work and as a member of industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails. Also appearing in this evening’s performance is American composer, electronic music pioneer, and neo-classical recording artist Suzanne Ciani, a five-time Grammy nominee who has, over the course of her 40-year career, released 20 solo albums, composed music for award-winning commercials, video games, and feature films. Most recently she released her comeback quadraphonic Buchla 200e modular performance LIVE Quadraphonic, a variation of which she will be presenting here.

Produced by the Barbican.

Alison Balsom – Milton Court Artist-in-Residence

Acclaimed trumpeter Alison Balsom is the Barbican’s Milton Court Artist-in-Residence in the 2019-20 season. As part of the residency, she will bring three projects to the Barbican’s programme, starting with Gabriel in October. A theatrical celebration of Baroque music and 17th-century London, Gabriel premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2013. Author Samuel Adamson and director Dominic Dromgoole have now reimagined it for the Barbican as part of Balsom's Milton Court artist residency. The residency continues in March with a performance of Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain with Guildhall Jazz Ensemble, and concludes in May, when Balsom leads Britten Sinfonia, who are Associate Ensemble at the Barbican, in the world premiere of John Woolrich’s Hark! The echoing air. This will be part of a concert showcasing composers’ fascination with other composers’ music.

Alison Balsom in Gabriel: An Entertainment with Trumpet
Mon 21 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

The English Concert, Harry Bicket (music director), Samuel Adamson (text), Alison Balsom (trumpet), Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Christopher Lowrey (countertenor), Gwilym Bowen (tenor), Dominic Dromgoole (director).

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko/ Leif Ove Andsnes
Tue 22 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Strauss Don Juan, Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16, Shostakovich Symphony No 10.

The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra was founded a century ago. The Norwegian orchestra, which gave its first performance in September 1919, marks its centenary year with a landmark season at home and a major European tour under the direction of Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko. The tour concludes at the Barbican on 22 October with a programme including perhaps the best-known work from Norway, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, with celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes as soloist. The programme also features Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan, which was performed at the orchestra’s first subscription concert in 1919, and Shostakovich’s powerful Symphony No.10, a work from the heart of Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko’s repertoire.

Steve Reich/Gerhard Richter
Wed 23 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm & 9.30pm
Reich/Richter (European premiere, Barbican and Britten Sinfonia co-commission)

Pioneering composer Steve Reich and Gerhard Richter, one of the most significant visual artists in modern art history, collaborate in this project that had its world premiere at The Shed in New York earlier this year. In 2012, Gerhard Richter published a book titled “Patterns”: Using a computer image of one of his abstract paintings, Richter divided it vertically into two halves and then divided those halves into quarters, making a mirror image of two of the quarters. He then divided the painting into fourths, eighths, 16ths, etc, up to 4096ths. Each step followed the same procedure of divide, mirror, and repeat, and it resulted in an abstract image that became a series of increasingly dense patterns, and eventually solid bands of colours. As part of Reich/Richter, there will be a film by Richter, made in collaboration with Corinna Belz, which applies this algorithmic process to his abstract painting 946-3 (from 2016). Britten Sinfonia conducted by Colin Currie performs Reich’s music to accompany the film. Steve Reich will be in London for the European premiere and will be in conversation about this project and his music in general at a public talk on 22 October at LSO St Luke’s.

Part of Barbican Presents.

Moor Mother with the London Contemporary Orchestra: The Great Bailout
Wed 23 Oct 2019, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm  

In this first-time collaboration, Afro-futurist artist, musician and poet Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother teams up with the London Contemporary Orchestra and conductor Robert Ames in a project of music and spoken word with the British slave industry as a core theme. Their collaboration, The Great Bailout, is aiming to demonstrate the rarely acknowledged links between the pavements we all walk on and the slave trade.
Moor Mother effortlessly merges the painfully social-realist with the eerily surreal and has an immediacy of delivery rarely matched. She returns to the Barbican’s contemporary music programme, following her well-received appearance at Milton Court Concert Hall with the Irrerversible Entanglements in February 2019.

Produced by the Barbican.

Hannah Peel & Will Burns: Chalk Hill Blue
+ On Vanishing Land

Sat 26 Oct 2019, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm 

Poet Will Burns and electronic composer Hannah Peel present their collaborative project Chalk Hill Blue. Released in March 2019 and recorded with producer/artist Erland Cooper, the album is a moving and original record exploring the troubled landscapes of England and the mind. Inspired by the chalk heaths of Buckinghamshire and the iridescent disappearing butterfly, poetry alongside Peel's analogue compositions, weave in and out of one another to entrancing and unsettling effect. Their Milton Court date sees an expanded version of their collaboration and both artists will be joined on stage by a larger ensemble and special guest artists. Will Burns is poet-in-residence for arts-meets-nature-uptown phenomenon Caught by the River, while versatile solo artist Hannah Peel has released four solo albums to date including her 2017 recording Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia. She recently toured this synth-based, experimental album with a full 30-piece brass band in sold out venues around the UK. On Vanishing Land will be opening this evening’s performance. This project can be described as an audio-essay, which was the second audio-work collaboration by philosopher, sound artist and author Justin Barton and the late teacher, cultural theorist, and author Mark Fisher.

Sun 27 Oct 2019, LSO St Luke’s, 7.30pm 

Experimental band from Jogjakarta, Java in Indonesia, Senyawa make their Barbican programme debut at LSO St Luke’s this autumn. They embody the aural elements of traditional Indonesian music whilst exploring the framework of experimental music practice, pushing the boundaries of both traditions. Their music strikes a perfect balance between their avant-garde influences and cultural heritage to create new contemporary Indonesian music.

Produced by the Barbican in association with I-D.A Projects.

Swordfishtrombones Revisited
Featuring Nadine Shah, Sarah Blasko, Lisa O’Neill and Dorian Wood

Mon 28 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Following on from his remarkable interpretation of Rain Dogs (Rain Dogs Revisited formed part of the Barbican’s contemporary music programme in 2011),  British multi-instrumentalist David Coulter now turns to another major opus by Tom Waits, with an impressive team of musicians and special guests including LA singer and performance artist Dorian Wood, acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko, Mercury Prize nominee Nadine Shah and much-acclaimed folk singer Lisa O’Neill, in this world premiere performance at the Barbican this autumn.

Released in 1983, Swordfishtrombones marked a new chapter in Tom Waits’ career as he drifted away from the piano jazz club atmospheres to find darker inspirations in the gutter and back alleys of the human soul. This radical change of direction towards experimental rock was one of the musical shocks of the 1980s.

Some of the UK’s finest musicians will be joining David Coulter on stage: Terry Edwards (horns), Dave Okumu (guitar), Steve Nieve (piano), Tom Herbert (bass), Seb Rochford (drums) and Thomas Bloch (Ondes Martenot).

Produced by the Barbican.

Philip Glass & the Philip Glass Ensemble
Music with Changing Parts
Wed 30 Oct 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Philip Glass Ensemble will be revisiting one of Glass’ early masterpieces, the trailblazing Music with Changing Parts, featuring a rare chance to see the composer himself performing with his pioneering group. This new arrangement includes the Tiffin Chorus and players from the London Contemporary Orchestra.

Premiered in New York in 1970, Music with Changing Parts was a transitional work in Glass’s career. Melding electronic and acoustic instruments and voice, the piece saw Glass experiment with richer harmonies and increased contrapuntal complexity, hinting at the landmark piece that he was to create next – Music in 12 Parts. ­

Produced by the Barbican.


Theatre of Nations, Moscow – Shukshin’s Stories
Mon 7–Wed 9 Oct 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Mon 7 Oct 2019, 7pm

Theatre of Nations, Moscow – Ivanov
Fri 11 & Sat 12 Oct 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Fri 11 Oct, 7pm

Continuing our commitment to bring Russia’s finest acting ensembles to London, Moscow’s prestigious Theatre of Nations makes its Barbican debut, performing two UK premieres: Shukshin’s Stories, and Chekhov’s enigmatic play Ivanov. Both productions are performed in Russian with English surtitles and star Evgeny Mironov.

Alvis Hermanis adapts the comic, pithy, short stories of rural Russian life by writer and film-maker Vasily Shukshin. A major cultural figure from Soviet times, Shukshin’s work is melancholic yet laced with humour. The vivid characters, familiar provincial types from the 1970s Soviet Union, are portrayed with affection, irony and huge love that give them an authenticity instantly recognisable to Russian audiences today.

Director Timofey Kulyabin’s production of Ivanov brings a fresh and modern perspective to the text while retaining its keen observation and comedic eye for detail. The production is set in the present day with the weak, disenchanted Ivanov as a man facing a mid-life crisis who has exhausted his emotional reserves. His wife, Anna Petrovna, is dying and Ivanov seeks solace in his affection for the young Sasha, daughter of his creditor to whom he owes a large debt.

Jamie Hale – CRIPtic Pit Party
Fri 11 & Sat 12 Oct 2019, The Pit
Press night: Fri 11 Oct 2019, 7.45pm

Jamie Hale performs in and curates CRIPtic Pit Party, comprising a solo replete with hope, NOT DYING directed by Kate O’Donnell, and a mixed-bill of work by D/deaf and disabled artists directed by Shereen Hamilton.

In NOT DYING, Hale recounts their full-circle story of progressive disability - from the agony and gracelessness of imminent death to the jubilance and defiance of survival. Determined to confront and dismantle barriers often encountered by disabled people, this thought-provoking piece intertwines video and narrative.

The vibrant second-half showcase sees D/deaf and disabled artists, Signkid, Jackie Hagan, Amelia Cavallo, Elle Chante and Katie Walters, Donna and Jessi Parrott take to the stage. Revealing their own personal experiences of anger, fortitude and joy, performing short sets of music, dance and spoken word, each artist expands on the themes of NOT DYING.

Dance Umbrella 2019
Vuyani Dance Theatre/Gregory Maqoma – Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero
Thu 17–Sat 19 Oct 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 17 Oct, 7.45pm

Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, presented as part of Dance Umbrella, is a rousing dance theatre work of rhythmic dexterity and ecstatic intensity to the sounds of a live South African choir.

Celebrated dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma is Toloki – a paid mourner confronting a world in which greed, power and religious ideology lead so often to the normalisation of needless death and loss. Inspired by the protagonist from the stories of South African author Zakes Mda, this physical lamentation unfolds to the musical motif of Ravel’s Bolero, reinterpreted here through stirring song and percussion by four traditional vocalists joined onstage by eight dancers from Vuyani Dance Theatre.

Royal Shakespeare Company – As You Like It
Sat 26 Oct 2019–Sat 18 Jan 2020, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Tue 29 Oct 2019, 7pm

The Royal Shakespeare Company begin their residency in the Barbican Theatre with As You Like It. All the world really is a stage in Kimberley Sykes’ playful and imaginative take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.

Rosalind is banished, and with her best friend Celia by her side, she journeys to a world of exile. But not before catching the eye of love-struck Orlando, who is also forced from the Court into the Forest.

Blending physical comedy, music and storytelling, this As You Like It dares you to change your state of mind.


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. 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, Loïe Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Trevor Paglen: From “Apple” to “Anomaly”
Thu 26 Sep 2019–Sun 16 Feb 2020, The Curve
Free admission
Part of
Life Rewired

Barbican Art Gallery has commissioned the artist Trevor Paglen to create a new work for The Curve. Paglen takes as his starting point the way in which Artificial Intelligence networks are taught how to ‘see’, ‘hear’ and ‘perceive’ the world by engineers who feed them vast training sets. Standard training sets consist of images, video and sound libraries that depict objects, faces, facial expressions, gestures, actions, speech commands, eye movements and more. Paglen highlights how the advent of autonomous computer vision and AI has developed alongside this new kind of media, not designed for humans, but for machines, which are rife with hidden politics, biases, stereotypes and epistemological assumptions.


New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival
Sat 5 Oct 2019, 10.30am–5.30pm, various locations
Part of
Life Rewired

The second New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival – a book fair and day of talks, workshops and screenings – explores feminist approaches to technology.

Inspired by science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’, this year the festival questions the notion of technology and its place in a male-dominated  history, featuring writers, artists and academics including Merve Emre (The Personality Brokers), Sandeep Parmar, Sophie Lewis, (Full Surrogacy Now), Irenosen Okojie (Butterfly Fis, Nudibranch), Sophia Al-Maria, (BCE, Whitechapel Gallery), Reni Eddo-Lodge, (Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race), Tai Shani, (2019 Turner prize nominee) and Zadie Xa.

More than 30 publishers will host stalls and book signings, in the spirit of the 1980s International Feminist Bookfairs. Last year’s bookfair included publishers Hachette, Penguin Random House, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Silver Press, And Other Stories, the Independent Alliance including Faber and Scribe.

Life Rewired Hub
Until Dec 2019
Part of
Life Rewired

Motivated by the need to develop and test new models of public engagement, the Barbican presents a temporary 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.