Press room

Barbican September 2018 highlights

Helen Morse speaking as people sit on the ground listening.

Barbican September highlights

  • Brink Productions and the Barbican present a theatrical adaptation of Alice Oswald’s brilliantly original reimagining of Homer’s Iliad in the Barbican Theatre.
  • The critically acclaimed Blak Whyte Gray returns to the Barbican, following nominations for an Olivier Award and National Dance Award.
  • Defiant, expressive and electric – the Barbican Cinema presents a season of cult and landmark films that chart the extraordinary century of change in Russia.
  • The Television Will Be Revolutionised: Channel 4 and the 1982 Workshop Declaration presents a season of oppositional documentaries from Channel 4’s first decade.
  • September marks the last chance to see the first UK survey of American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) and first major UK solo exhibition of British contemporary photographer Vanessa Winship open in Barbican Art Gallery.
  • This autumn, marking the 30th Curve commission at the Barbican, New Zealand-born and London-based artist Francis Upritchard has conceived of a new, site-specific installation.
  • Three of the world’s pre-eminent soloists – Emanuel Ax (piano), Leonidas Kavakos (violin) and Yo-Yo Ma (cello) – come together as a chamber super group to perform all three of Brahms’s Piano Trios.
  • Iconic Welsh musician and artist Gruff Rhys appears at the Barbican, joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO), to perform material from his recent album Babelsberg.

CINEMA

The Television Will Be Revolutionised
Thu 13–Sun 16 Sep 2018, Cinema 3

The Television Will Be Revolutionised: Channel 4 and the 1982 Workshop Declaration presents a season of oppositional documentaries from Channel 4’s first decade: a radical, game-changing era that opened doors for diverse voices in cinemas and on British television.

Channel 4 began life in 1982 with a remit to provide innovative broadcasting, and to challenge the mainstream BBC/ITV duopoly. Under the1982 Workshop Declaration, the Channel agreed to fund and screen films from the ‘alternative’ film and video collectives – known as workshops.

Working closely with trade unions, Labour local authorities, radical political groups, women’s organisations and ethnic minority communities, by 1988 some 44 workshops had had films funded and screened by Channel 4.

The Barbican season opens with a panel discussion with original members of the workshop movement Ellin Hare (Amber Films), Stewart Mackinnon (Trade Films), Menelik Shabazz (Ceddo Film and Video Workshop) and Caroline Spry (Sheffield Co-Op and Channel 4), who will discuss the significance of the Workshop Declaration and its long-term impact on independent filmmaking. The season includes films from the Belfast Film Workshop, Frontroom Productions, Trade Films, Newsreel Collective, Black Audio Film Collective, Sheffield Film Co-Op and Amber Films.

Generations: Russian Cinema of Change
Wed 26–Sun 30 Sep 2018, Cinema 1 & 2
Part of The Art of Change

Defiant, expressive and electric – the Barbican Cinema presents a season of cult and landmark films that chart the extraordinary century of change in Russia.

The world’s largest country has undergone profound upheaval in recent history. The early idealism of the 1917 Revolution, suppressed during Stalinism, was revived in the relatively liberal Khrushchev’s Thaw of the ‘60s.

The following Brezhnev era of stagnation ended with perestroika, before the turbulent ‘90s and the current political situation.

Taking place 26–30 September, this film season explores the shifting forms of self-expression, independence and defiance through Russia’s seismic cycles of reinvention.

MUSIC

Ax / Kavakos / Ma Trio
Sun 9 Sep 2018, Barbican Hall, 3pm

Three of the world’s pre-eminent soloists – Emanuel Ax (piano), Leonidas Kavakos (violin) and Yo-Yo Ma (cello) – come together as a chamber super group to perform all three of Brahms’s Piano Trios (Trio No. 1 in B Major, Trio No. 2 in C Major and Trio No. 3 in C Minor), which span the composer’s entire creative life and can be seen as an autobiography that increases in concentration and emotional power as it progresses. The recent recording of this cycle of the Brahms Piano Trios by Ax, Kavakos and Ma received great critical acclaim.

Gruff Rhys + London Contemporary Orchestra + Ed Dowie
Wed 12 Sep 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Iconic Welsh musician and artist Gruff Rhys appears at the Barbican, joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO), to perform material from his recent album Babelsberg (Rough Trade). This record is his sixth solo outing and second release on Rough Trade since 2007’s Candylion. Babelsberg was originally recorded in 2016, but the songs were put into hibernation until additional scores were added by composer Stephen McNeff and performed by the National Orchestra of Wales, eighteen months later. The record focuses on misplaced optimism with Rhys noting the Tower of Babel as an inspiration, stating of his thought-process: ‘people building towers to reach an idea of heaven (but maybe creating a kind of hell)’. The evening will also feature material from Rhys’ celebrated back catalogue.

12 ensemble REBORN: music reimagined through time
Sun 16 Sep 2018, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm

The influential 12 ensemble and solo violist Jennifer Stumm bring a programme of historic and contemporary music to Milton Court, for a night entitled REBORN. The event brings together works inspired by DowlandMonteverdi and Schubert on themes of death, tears and sleep, reimagined for string orchestra. The ensemble will perform Mahler’s string orchestra arrangement of Schubert’s Death & the Maiden. Preceding this will be Britten’s Lachrymae, juxtaposed with Tansy DaviesResiduum, a new work for strings inspired by John Dowland’s Lachrimae (1604) – the very same work upon which Britten’s own Lachrymae is based. In a cross-collaboration with choreographer Alexander Whitley, the ensemble has created a film to accompany their performance of Woolrich’s Ulysses Awakes, which will be screened behind them as they perform.

MANUFACTORY Transforma – Sascha Ring (Apparat)
Tue 25 Sep 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Directed by Transforma, with a score written and presented by Sascha Ring (Apparat) and choreographic assistance by Johanna Hwang, MANUFACTORY combines live video, physical theatre and music, which reflects the rhythms and physicality of labour and repetitive action. This will be the work’s UK premiere performance. Situated within a functional stage design, an ensemble of dancers performs a choreography of process, inspired by the actions and outcomes of working practices. In their signature style, Transforma document and condense single scenes into stylised vignettes while Ring’s original score takes the form of a series of phasing loops that both respond to and trigger the performers’ actions. A modular synthesiser system developed by Sascha Ring will provide the score to MANUFACTORY.

ECHO Rising Stars: Amatis Piano Trio
Fri 28 Sep 2018, LSO St Luke’s, 1pm

The 2018/19 ECHO Rising Star series launches with The Amatis Trio (nominated by Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Kölner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Dortmund and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg), who will perform a programme to include classics of the piano trio repertoire, alongside the UK premiere of a new commission by the Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi, who draws her inspiration from art and landscape. The young Amsterdam-based trio and current BBC New Generation Artists have established an international reputation, winning several international prizes and competitions. ​

Ryoji Ikeda –music for percussion +  datamatics [ver. 2.0]
Sun 30 Sep 2018, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Japan’s leading electronic composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda returns to the Barbican for a double bill of music for percussion with Swiss collective, Eklekto, and datamatics [ver. 2.0]. In music for percussion, Ikeda works with pure acoustic sounds.  Conventional instruments are used to isolate the purity of a sound, and produce textures which are close to electronic music. Using pure data as a source for sound and visuals, datamatics [ver. 2.0] combines abstract and mimetic presentations of matter, time and space. Projecting dynamic computer-generated imagery in black and white with striking colour accents, the intense yet minimal graphic renderings of data progress through multiple dimensions. A powerful and hypnotic soundtrack reflects the imagery through a meticulous layering of sonic components.

LSO highlights

Sir Simon Rattle's second season as the London Symphony Orchestra's Music Director begins on 16 September with an all-British programme, featuring the world premiere of a fanfare by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (co-commissioned by the Barbican), Mark-Anthony Turnage's double trumpet concerto Dispelling the Fears, Holst's masterpiece Egdon Heath, and Britten's Spring Symphony with soloists Elizabeth Watts, Alice Coote and Allan Clayton. The Britten makes a second appearance on 18 September, this time performed alongside Janáček's Sinfonietta, kicking off Rattle's Roots and Origins theme for the LSO 2018/19 season. Janáček's Sinfonietta is performed again on 19 September alongside Szymanowski's Violin Concerto with the soloist Janine Jansen, and Sibelius' Symphony No 5.

BBCSO highlights

BBC Symphony Orchestra & Professor Brian Cox present The Planets on 29 September, opening the orchestra’s 2018-19 season at the Barbican. Inspired by the astrological character of each planet, Holst created what has become one of the 20th century’s best-loved and most iconic works for orchestra. On the exact centenary of its premiere, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ben Gernon join forces with Professor Brian Cox to take a fresh musical and visual look at The Planets and cast new light on Holst’s vividly atmospheric masterpiece.

THEATRE AND DANCE

Landmark Productions and Irish National OperaThe Second Violinist
Thu 6–Sat 8 Sep 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 6 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

The Barbican presents the UK premiere of The Second Violinist, winner of the 2017 FEDORA–GENERALI Prize for Opera and Best Opera at the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2018. Produced by Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera, The Second Violinist is a dazzling modern opera that tells the foreboding story of a life falling apart, unfolding like an unnerving thriller driven along by a haunting and compulsive score.

Martin, an orchestral violinist, is consumed by social media platforms, morbid fantasies and violent video games. Seeking solace in the music of Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, his inner turmoil becomes ever more apparent as he searches for beauty in a dark, dark world.

The latest collaboration between internationally renowned Irish playwright Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy, this brooding production switches between multiple timelines. It marries multi-layered set and video design with a score, rich in amplified sounds, harmonies and overtones – reflective of the heightening tension onstage – and played live by the dynamic music group, Crash Ensemble. Lyrical and ethereal singing by three soloists and a 16-strong chorus contrasts with Aaron Monaghan’s central performance, physically fraught, essentially wordless and utterly involving.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award Winner 2018
Alan Fielden with JAMS – Marathon
Thu 20–Sat 29 Sep 2018, The Pit
Press night: Fri 21 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

A man on the front line of a conflict between two countries is told by his general to relay a message to the king: ‘we’ve lost the war, the enemy is coming.’ The journey he takes and the people he meets along the way lead him to question his faith in the mission.

Marathon is less about the Greek myth and more about the performers onstage struggling to re-enact the play they’ve created of the same name. Under a kind of collective amnesia, they experiment with form, style, live music and pyrotechnics to evoke the sense of confusion felt by many people in today’s society. JAMS are a group of young artists intent on creating unpredictable and collaborative theatre.

Boy Blue – Blak Whyte Gray
Wed 12–Sat 15 Sep 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Wed 12 Sep 2018, 7.45pm
Part of The Art of Change

The critically acclaimed Blak Whyte Gray returns to the Barbican, following nominations for an Olivier Award and National Dance Award.

The world in flux, a need for change: the artists of Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue give expression to experiences of contemporary life. The time is right to ask questions, to break free from the inner tension of a system that isn’t working, and to emerge on the other side to an awakening – a return to their roots, a celebration of their culture. 

Fuelled by an emotional energy, the piece pairs the concentrated physicality of select hip-hop dance styles with the rhythmical groove of music and moves evoking Africa.

Blak Whyte Gray is part of our 2018 season, The Art of Change.

METIS – We Know Not What We May Be
Thu 6–Sun 9 September 2018, The Pit
Journalists are invited to attend on Friday, Saturday or Sunday
Part of The Art of Change

There has never been a greater urgency for change. But what shape could this take and who will be in charge? We Know Not What We May Be asks if human ingenuity can improve people’s relationships with each other and their treatment of the planet.

Part conference, part durational artwork and part think-tank, this immersive installation brings together the best of contemporary thinking, for a better tomorrow.  Starting with a short talk by a visionary speaker drawn from the disciplines of economics, architecture and the environment (speakers include Paul Mason, Kate Raworth and Ha-Joon Chang), audiences become co-workers as they enter The Pit, transformed into the factory of the future.

We Know Not What We May Be is part of our 2018 season, The Art of Change.

Brink Productions – Memorial
by Alice Oswald
Thu 27–Sun 30 Sep 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Thu 27 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

Brink Productions and the Barbican present a theatrical adaptation of Alice Oswald’s brilliantly original reimagining of Homer’s Iliad by a poet who is also a classicist. The concept for the production and direction comes from Brink Production’s Artistic Director, Chris Drummond and Artistic Director of Circa, Yaron Lifschitz, with music by Jocelyn Pook. The UK premiere is presented at the Barbican as part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

In Memorial, Alice Oswald strips away Homer’s narrative and attends to its atmosphere, its enargeia, or ‘bright unbearable reality’ with a memorialising of every soldier named in the Iliad, juxtaposed with exquisite similes describing vast movements in time and nature. The result is a concentrated, intense elegy in which each soldier’s death characterises the man and each death is different, a compelling litany of the war-dead.

In a fusion of music, choreography and theatre, the celebrated Australian actress Helen Morse will perform Memorial, her lone voice embodying the voice of the gods, of the elements, of time itself and of lives arrested in visceral moments of war. The stage will be populated with men and women drawn from a wide cross-section of the community to create a choric presence simultaneously evoking the 215 soldiers named in the poem. Reflective, meditative and dynamic, the show stands as a requiem to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during conflict and war.

VISUAL ARTS

Francis Upritchard: Wetwang Slack
The Curve, Barbican Centre
Thu 27 Sep 2018–Sun 6 Jan 2019,
Media View: Wed 26 Sep 2018, 10am–1pm

Free Admission

This autumn, marking the 30th Curve commission at the Barbican, New Zealand-born and London-based artist Francis Upritchard has conceived of a new, site-specific installation. Drawing from both figurative sculpture and craft traditions – ceramics, tapestry, glassblowing to enamelling – she pushes these practices in new directions, bringing them together to create a striking and original visual language of her own.

For full press release and images please visit: www.barbican.org.uk/FrancisUpritchardNews

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing
Fri 22 Jun–Sun 2 Sep 2018, Barbican Art Gallery
Media View: Thu 21 Jun 2018, 10am–1pm

Barbican Art Gallery stages the first UK survey of the American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (18951965), one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. A formidable woman of unparalleled vigour and resilience, the exhibition charts Lange’s outstanding photographic vision from her early studio portraits of San Francisco’s bourgeoisie to her celebrated Farm Security Administration work (19351939) that captured the devastating impact of the Great Depression on the American population. The show features the iconic Migrant Mother as well as rarely seen photographs of the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War and several post-war series documenting the changing face of the social and physical landscape of 1950s America, including a collaboration with fellow photographer Pirkle Jones.

For full press release and images please visit: www.barbican.org.uk/DorotheaLangeNews

Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds
Fri 22 Jun– Sun 2 Sep 2018, Barbican Art Gallery
Media View: Thu 21 Jun 2018, 10am–1pm 

Barbican Art Gallery is proud to present the first major UK solo exhibition of British contemporary photographer Vanessa Winship. The recipient of the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson prize in 2011, Winship’s poetic gaze explores the fragile nature of our landscape and society, how memory leaves its mark on our collective and individual histories. Winship’s oeuvre captures the ‘transition between myth and the individual’, revealing deeply intimate photographs that often appear to avoid specific contexts or any immediate political significance. The exhibition brings together an outstanding selection of more than 150 photographs, many never been seen before in the UK.

For full press release and images please visit: www.barbican.org.uk/VanessaWinshipNews

LEVEL G

Troika – Borrowed Light
5 Jun 2018–May 2019
Free

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.

Rachel Ara feat.  Kay Le Seelleur Ara – American Beauty (a Trump L'oeil)
Thu 24 May–Sun 14 Oct 2018
Free
Part of The Art of Change

American Beauty (a Trump L'oeil) uses film, poetry, humour and CGI to create an incongruous image that references film history, utopian architecture and contemporary politics. The iconic brutalist architecture of the Barbican becomes a glitch, a window through which we might catch a glimpse into our future.

Visitors watch as an orange hairpiece dances in the wind in perpetuity around the Barbican Estate, echoing the iconic scene from Sam Mendes’s American Beauty. The title itself a play on the phrase trompe l’oeil – (deceives the eye).

This work was selected from a shortlist of winners and finalists from The Lumen Prize for Digital Art in collaboration with the Barbican’s Level G programme.

CGI and animation by AVR London.

Projections by Christie.

In The Dark and Falling Tree Productions – Soundhouse: The Listening Body
Thu 6 Sep–Thu 4 Oct 2018
Free

What might a cinema for audio look like? The Barbican explores how radio and podcasting might occupy public space through the installation of a collective listening space and a series of experimental listening events, curated by Nina Garthwaite (In The Dark) and Eleanor McDowall (Falling Tree Productions).

Soundhouse: The Listening Body will present a series of alternative visions for public listening environments. It will play audio work designed to provoke the imagination and stimulate the senses in a radically reimagined collective listening space. It will also host a series of discussions exploring collective listening.

Projections by Christie.

The Hull of a Large Ship
Fri 18 May–Nov 2018
Free

On 12 December 1968 Chamberlin Powell & Bon (CP&B) submitted a report to the Court of Common Council of the Corporation of the City of London including detailed drawings and a written proposal for the Barbican Arts Centre. This was the last phase of a complex redevelopment that had grown in scope and size since its original conception in the 1950s and was already under construction and partly inhabited by the end of 1960s. To fit the final piece in the restricted site, the architects and engineers resorted to an inventive solution: excavate the site twenty metres below ground level and place the majority of the Centre below the elevated walkways or ‘podium’ level. The architects compared the Arts Centre to ‘the hull of a large ship in which much is contained below the water.’

The sixth of the Barbican Display series exhibits unpublished original CP&B drawings selected by five contemporary European architects: 6a, Office KGDVS, Carmody Groarke, Casper Mueller Kneer and Witherford Watson Mann, who were given the task of proposing a critical intervention on the different spaces, reflecting on the drawing as an unfinished structure that could be adapted to the changing demands of an international arts centre. The original drawings will be displayed side by side with the architect’s proposal.

The exhibition is curated and designed by Daniela Puga.

OTHER EVENTS

Girls can, do and will
Sat 1 Sep 2018
Closed to public
Part of The Art of Change

Over 200 Girl Guides aged 10-14 will come together at the Barbican for a day of making noise and music, led by Jessie Maryon Davies, co-founder of Girls Rock London and musical director of LIPS Choir.

Harnessing the transformative power of singing, lyric writing, percussion and chanting, the day will include a series of performances and skills-building workshops that celebrate exploring new things, expressing oneself and making mistakes. The day will give the girls a space to use their voice and – to quote the Girls’ Attitudes Survey which inspired this event – ‘stand up for themselves and others’ in song.

A specially commissioned Barbican & Girlguiding London and South East England badge by visual artist and design educator Soofiya will be given to all participants to celebrate their involvement.  

Girls can, do and will is part of The Art of Change season, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

In partnership with Girlguiding London and South East England.

ENDS