We have reopened some of our venues. Everyone who visits us will need a ticket in advance. Find out more

Press room

Barbican September highlights

Man falling with balloon

Upcoming highlights

  • The very first Leytonstone Loves Film takes place in east London as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.
  • Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue follow the international triumph of Blak Whyte Gray with the world premiere of REDD.
  • Trevor Paglen’s From “Apple” to “Anomaly”, commissioned by Barbican Art Gallery, opens in The Curve.
  • Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas and special guest artists will honour the legacy of the ‘Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin.


Anime’s Human Machines
Thu 12–Mon 30 Sep 2019, Cinema 1
Part of
Life Rewired

Throughout September Barbican Cinema presents Anime’s Human Machines, a major film season showcasing the enduringly popular and relevant genre, Japanese animation.

The films showing here confront the onslaught of technology and screen as part of Life Rewired, a Barbican cross-arts and learning season running throughout 2019, exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

Curated by anime expert Helen McCarthy and produced by Barbican Cinema, this season features eight landmark films, from trailblazing low budget titles such as the cyberpunk Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989, Dir Shin'ya Tsukamoto), to later films including Macross Plus The Movie (1995, Dir Shôji Kawamori), Metropolis (2001, Dir Rintaro), and Ghost in the Shell (1995, Dir Mamoru Oshii), the latter Introduced by Shōji Kawamori, anime creator, and mechanical designer on Ghost in the Shell. The more recent titles Paprika (Japan 2006 Dir Satoshi Kon) and Summer Wars (2009, Dir Mamoru Hosoda) will also play.

Anime’s Human Machines is an Official Event of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020 and has been kindly supported by Wellcome and The Sasakawa Foundation and is presented in association with the Japan Foundation.

Leytonstone Loves Film
Fri 27–Sun 29 Sep 2019
Fri & Sat 11am–Late & Sun 11am–6pm

In September 2019, Leytonstone Loves Film takes place in east London for the first time as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019. This free, weekend-long festival is designed to celebrate film culture and Leytonstone’s unique cinema history, presented by local residents and organisations, the Barbican and Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.

Indoor and outdoor screenings will be popping up all weekend, alongside workshops, activities and installations with music, markets and food stalls spilling out onto the streets of Leytonstone on Sunday. Audiences will enjoy a range of film experiences on both large outdoor screens and in intimate pop up spaces from new releases, independent and art house films to archive classics and shorts made locally and internationally. Over 50 events are on offer, the majority of which are programmed and produced by local partners from Leytonstone and across Waltham Forest.

Japanese Avant-garde and Experimental Film Festival 2019
Fri 20–Sun 22 Sep 2019, Cinema 3

This year’s festival examines national identity, cultural memory and perceptions of history through a programme of repertory cinema and contemporary experimental short film.

Fierce satires and poetic meditations on existence from the post-war period are interwoven with expressive and intimate reflections on ‘being’ in present-day Japan.

The festival showcases some of Japan’s most cult films from the 1960s to the 1980s. Audiences will encounter Yukio Mishima’s aesthetic extremism, in the scathing institutional satire of Death by Hanging (1968, Dir Nagisa Oshima) and a barbed view of the US occupation in Pigs and Battleships (1961, Dir Shohei Imamura).

Showing alongside these films are new experimental works from filmmakers and video artists that engage with life in contemporary Japan, or that contend with memory and history.


Antibalas: Respect to Aretha 
Thu 12 Sep 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm 

Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas and special guest artists including American soul icon Bettye LaVette, American vocalists Nona Hendryx (Labelle) and José James, British soul singer Alice Russell and British jazz/soul singer-songwriter Zara McFarlane will honour the legacy of the ‘Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin, with a concert at the Barbican on 12 September 2019, featuring Franklin’s classic and timeless music.

Formed in 1998, Brooklyn-based music collective Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") is modelled on Fela Kuti’s band Africa 70 and Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive Orchestra. A new album is scheduled for September 2019.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Philharmonie de Paris.

Tue 17 Sep 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm 

LHASA – a live project originally conceived at 37d03d festival in Berlin in August 2018 – comes to the Barbican this autumn. This special evening celebrates the life and work of Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lhasa de Sela. An eclectic line-up of artists including Andrew Barr (The Barr Brothers), Bryce Dessner (The National), Clarice Jensen (American Contemporary Music Ensemble), composer Dustin O'Halloran, musician Emma Broughton, musician and composer Joel Shearer, singer-songwriter Leslie Feist (Feist); singer-songwriter and guitarist Melissa Laveaux; Pauline DeLassus (Mina Tindle) and musician Todd Dahlhoff will bring Lhasa’s multi-lingual songs and music to life on the Barbican stage.

Produced by Sounds from a Safe Harbour and presented by the Barbican.

Third Coast Percussion
Sat 21 Sep 2019, LSO St Luke’s, 8pm

Grammy Award-winning Chicago quartet Third Coast Percussion will give the UK premieres of Philip Glass’ Perpetulum – a new percussion piece commissioned by the group – and of their arrangement of Glass’ Madeira River. The concert also features UK premieres of Third Coast Percussion commissioned music by Devonté Hynes (Perfectly Voiceless) and Gavin Bryars (The Other Side of the River) alongside Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet and David Skidmore’s Take Anything You Want and Torched and Wrecked.

Founded in 2005, Third Coast Percussion is an artist-run quartet of classically-trained percussionists, who perform regularly, teach and have commissioned a series of new works by composers including Glenn Kotche, Chris Cerrone, Donnacha Dennehy, Timo Andres, David T. Little, Ted Hearne and Augusta Read Thomas.

with special guest Fever Ray
Sun 22 Sept 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm

In this special one-off Barbican night, entitled THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE COBRA, transgressive queer singer / performer CHRISTEENE pays tribute to Sinéad O’Connor, performing live her debut album The Lion And The Cobra.  CHRISTEENE will be joined on stage by her band, featuring musicians from Austin, TX and New York as well as her long-time collaborators, dancers T Gravel and Dawg Elf; and special guest artists including Fever Ray. THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE COBRA is realised with art direction from Kamal Ackarie and BASURA producer Peter Stopschinski as musical director.

Max Cooper: Yearning for the Infinite
Sat 28 Sep 2019, Barbican Hall, 8.30pm
Part of
Life Rewired

A project by London-based electronica and techno producer Max Cooper about our human obsession with the unobtainable, and its embodiment in the modern data explosion. Cooper has long been fascinated by the concept of infinity in many areas of life such as religion and cult (Kabbalah and the divine infinite), mathematics (limits, irrational numbers and Cantorian set theory), visual arts (perspective and illusion in painting) and music (infinite harmonic series). All topics are tackled via an entirely new live visual performance and musical score, commissioned by the Barbican.

Marcel & Rami Khalifé
featuring Aymeric Westrich
Sun 29 Sep 2019, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

Revered Lebanese composer, singer and oud master Marcel Khalifé makes a welcome return to the Barbican this autumn. Stripped back from his Al Mayadeen Ensemble he usually performs with, he will be joined only by his son Rami Khalifé on piano and French jazz drummer Aymeric Westrich, reinterpreting his familiar music in a new way as a trio.

Inspired by contemporary poetry and promoting traditional Arabic arts and culture, Marcel Khalifé 's work has been critically acclaimed in the Arab World and beyond. His creativity and innovations as well as his educational and humanitarian concerns and contributions have earned him numerous awards.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Marsm.

Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love
Sun 29 Sep 2019, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm  

The Practice of Love is a new multidisciplinary immersion in music, literature, theatre and movement by Norwegian musician, composer and writer Jenny Hval. Based on material from Hval’s forthcoming album (out on 13 September 2019), the project explores sonic, visual and chorographical ideas, aiming to stage the writing process as a performative practice. With a multinational ensemble including experimental musicians, vocalists, dancers and video artists, this project extends Hval’s work into new and even more challenging territory.

The Practice of Love is co-produced by Black Box teater and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival. The premiere is on 20 September 2019, Black Box teater/Ultima Festival. 

Presented by the Barbican in association with Bird on the Wire.

LSO Highlights

The launch of the London Symphony Orchestra’s 2019/20 season will begin with Sir Simon Rattle conducting an all-British programme of music, as is now tradition, on Saturday 14 September. The concert will feature the world premiere of British Composer Award-winner Emily Howard’s Antisphere, commissioned for Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO by the Barbican, supported by PRS Foundation's Open Fund for Organisations. Howard’s inspirations range from geometry and magnetism to the human brain and neural networks. Leila Josefowicz will feature as the soloist in Colin Matthews’ Violin Concerto, and the evening will close with Walton’s Symphony No 1. This concert is part of the Barbican’s Life Rewired season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything.

Theatre and Dance

Boy Blue – REDD
Thu 26 Sep–Sat 5 Oct 2019, Barbican Theatre
Press night: Fri 27 Sep 2019, 7.45pm

Barbican Artistic Associate Boy Blue follow the international triumph of Blak Whyte Gray with a Barbican commission and world premiere, REDD, about those irreversible moments in life and how they can affect people in different ways.

All life is balance. With happiness and light must come darkness. Audiences are invited to take a leap into the void, as nine dancers begin an introspective journey exploring how, after trauma, inner peace may be found. Intrigued by how the mind seeks to put things in order (from the Gaelic verb ‘redd’), Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy contrast a lo-fi hip-hop score with powerful choreography in this new dance theatre work.

Guerilla Science – Flavour Feast – Eat Yourself Better
Sat 28 & Sun 29 Sep 2019, 12–5pm, Level G
Part of
Life Rewired

Can we always trust our gut? Flavour Feast – Eat Yourself Better is a free, drop-in interactive installation in which audiences watch or participate in playful edible experiments designed to trick taste, touch, smell and sight. Invited to sample the delectable concoctions, they experience a multisensory insight into flavour perception and the complex relationship between stomach microbiome and brain.

With scientists and researchers on hand to answer questions, Flavour Feast’s pop-up party for the senses reveals facts and facilitates debate about eating habits, sustainability and the future of food - a topic that affects the health of everyone and the planet.

Visual Arts

Trevor Paglen: From “Apple” to “Anomaly”
Thu 26 Sep 2019–Sun 16 Feb 2020, The Curve
Media View: Wed 25 Sep 2019, 10am–1pm
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.

Architecture on Stage
David Chipperfield Fri 13 Sep 2019, Barbican Hall, 8pm
The Architecture of Emergency Thu 19 Sep 2019, Barbican Theatre, 7pm
Dow Jones Wed 25 Sep 2019, Frobisher Auditorium 1, 7pm

The Architecture Foundation and the Barbican in partnership present Architecture on Stage – a programme of talks by the world's leading architects. In September, Sir David Chipperfield discusses his practice; Biba Dow and Alun Jones of Dow Jones present on their major projects; and a panel of designers, activists and citizens discuss how architecture and urban practice should change in the face of climate and ecological emergency.

Level G

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 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.