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Barbican Visual Arts Exhibition Programme: spring / summer 2024

Barbican Art Gallery is pleased to announce new exhibitions for spring / summer 2024:

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art   
(13 February – 26 May 2024) 
Soufiane Ababri  
(13 March – 30 June 2024) 
Francis Alÿs 
(27 June – 1 September 2024) 
Please see more details below – the full release is available to view and download in PDF format from the sidebar. 

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art 
Barbican Art Gallery 
13 February – 26 May 2024 
#unravel @barbicancentre  

Textiles weave through our everyday lives yet remain one of the most underexamined mediums in art history. Opening in February 2024, Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art will shine a light on contemporary artists who — drawn to the tactile processes of stitching, weaving, braiding, and knotting — have explored the transformative and subversive potential of textiles to challenge power structures, transgress boundaries, and reimagine the world around them. 

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art brings together over 100 artworks by a diverse range of international practitioners to examine the ways in which artists have embraced textiles to communicate multi-layered stories about lived experience, addressing gender, sexuality, colonialism, the movement and displacement of people, ancient forms of knowledge, and more. Spanning intimate hand-crafted works to large-scale sculptural installations, the exhibition presents works that are radical in their form and politics, revealing how textiles have been forces of resistance and repair. 

Participating artists include: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Igshaan Adams, Mounira Al Sohl, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Louise Bourgeois, Jagoda Buić, Feliciano Centurión, Cian Dayrit, Tracey Emin, Quiltmakers of the Gees Bend (Loretta Pettway), Jeffrey Gibson, Antonio Jose Guzman and Iva Jankovic, Sheila Hicks, Tau Lewis, Teresa Margolles, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Faith Ringgold, Angela Su, Lenore Tawney, Cecilia Vicuña, Billie Zangewa, and more. 
This exhibition is co-curated by the Barbican, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam where the exhibition will be on show from September 2024.  

Soufiane Ababri 
The Curve 
13 March – 30 June 2024 
#soufianeabrabi @barbicancentre  

In March 2024, Moroccan-born artist Soufiane Ababri will transform The Curve for his first solo exhibition at a major UK institution. Living and working between Paris, France, and Tangier, Morocco, Ababri’s drawings and performances are inspired by real and fictitious encounters, drawing on the artist’s own hybrid identity as a gay Arab man as well as his diverse knowledge of film, music, and history. With references to the canon of Western gay subculture, and the worlds of art and literature, Ababri’s unique perspective draws on both Western and non-Western experiences to shine a light on the gaze of minority groups and address the imbalances in the way history and art history have been written.

Soufiane Ababri (b. 1985 Rabat, Morocco) holds a Post-Diploma from the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Lyon, France, as well an MA from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and a BA from the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Montpellier, France. He has exhibited in various institutions in Europe and worldwide with solo and group shows across Paris, Berlin, London and Los Angeles. His work is included in the collections of the MAC/VAL and the FRAC Poitou-Charentes in France as well as the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakesh, Morocco, and X Museum in Beijing, China.

Francis Alÿs 
Barbican Art Gallery 
27 June – 1 September 2024 
#francisalys @barbicancentre  

The Barbican is delighted to present a major exhibition by renowned Mexico-based artist Francis Alÿs. From 26 June to 1 September 2024, this is the artist’s first and largest institutional monographic exhibition in the UK for over a decade. 

Celebrating the breadth and importance of the artist’s work, the exhibition will stage the UK premiere of his critically acclaimed series Children’s Games (1999-present), newly expanded following the Belgian Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Conceived especially for the Barbican, the exhibition will also feature a site-specific project in the gallery for the surrounding community and beyond, offering new perspectives on his prolific career. 

With a career spanning over three decades, ranging from painting and drawing to video and photography, Alÿs has forged a unique and radical practice characterised by the interplay between art and geopolitical power dynamics. Born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1959, Alÿs was trained as an architect and urbanist in Tournai, Belgium and Venice, Italy, then moved to Mexico in 1986. Working in collaboration with local communities around the world, his engagement with cross-cultural contexts from Latin America to North Africa and Middle East operates beyond dominant, Western-centric narratives.

The Barbican’s visual arts programme is overseen by Head of Visual Arts Shanay Jhaveri who, since taking up the position in October 2022, has focused on bringing his unique vision which embraces cross-collaborative approaches between creative disciplines spanning contemporary art, design, fashion, and architecture, as well as across the Barbican’s broader art forms which include Music, Cinema, Theatre & Dance.  

Shanay Jhaveri, Head of Visual Arts at the Barbican, said: “The Barbican Art Gallery’s Spring/Summer 2024 programme offers a compelling group of shows that we hope will inspire and challenge audiences. Looking across borders, each of these exhibitions in their own way explores the power of invention and a sense of resilience; expressed through the creativity of children at play in Francis Alÿs’s work, or in the poetic and poignant works by a group of intergenerational artists that seek to release textiles from a host of traditional and stereotypical associations. Equally transgressive is Soufiane Ababri’s practice, which through a scenographic installation in The Curve becomes a space for reflection and even catharsis.”  

Will Gompertz, Artistic Director at the Barbican, said “This truly international and wonderful visual arts programme sits within the Barbican’s bold mix of fresh and established talent presented every day of the year across our multiple artforms. From Visual Arts to Music, from Cinema to Theatre & Dance, as well as our community engagement programme, our rich offering represents the dynamism and ambition of the Barbican. With performances ranging from the likes of the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra, Balimaya Project, our ECHO Rising Star Sean Shibe, and our new Milton Court residency with Anthony McGill, to the beautifully-curated Cinema seasons Eat The Screen and Barbican’s Outdoor Cinema summer series, alongside Pulitzer Prize winning A Strange Loop taking place this summer and the highly-anticipated return of the RSC’s Olivier Award-winning My Neighbour Totoro later in the year, this coming season will be no exception.”