Press room

METIS - We Know Not What We May Be

room with people working

The Pit, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

Thursday 6–Sunday 9 September 2018, times and speakers vary
Journalists are invited to attend on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Please refer to listings for times and speakers

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. We Know Not What We May Be is part of our 2018 season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Part conference, part durational artwork, 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. Through storytelling, interaction and experimentation, people are invited to collaborate to imagine alternative visions for the future. The stakes are high. Time is running out and policy-makers and politicians cannot be relied on to make the changes that are so urgently needed.

Artistic Director of METIS, Zoë Svendsen, has drawn together an impressive range of collaborators including lighting designer Guy Hoare, sound designer Carolyn Downing and Berlin-based videographer Chris Kondek together with Hoipolloi’s Shôn Dale-Jones and Stefanie Müller, to create We Know Not What We May Be.  Svendsen’s bold and thorough approach to the research, performance and interactivity have become the trademark of METIS’ work. Through her ‘research-in-public’ she initiates conversations, challenges people’s sense of what is possible, and finds ways in which individuals and society can take an active part in transforming the future.

METIS is a performing arts company that works as a network of artists and collaborators. It creates interdisciplinary performance projects that invite citizens to consider and tackle the contemporary challenges facing society. METIS’ previous credits include 3rd Ring Out (Greenwich & Docklands International Festival) and World Factory (Young Vic; short-listed for the Berlin Theatertreffen New Projects Prize 2016).

We Know Not What We May Be is commissioned and produced by Artsadmin, and is part of Season for Change, a UK-wide programme of cultural responses celebrating the environment and inspiring urgent action on climate change. #SeasonforChange

Notes to Editors

The Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. It presents bold artistic responses to vital global issues including feminism, climate change and human rights, while providing a platform for voices currently underrepresented in the arts. The season includes world-class music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts and learning and runs throughout 2018.


Public information


Box office: 020 7638 8891

Listings information

We Know Not What We May Be

By Zoë Svendsen with collaborators: Carolyn Downing, Guy Hoare, Lucille Acevedo Jones, Chris Kondek, Stefanie Müller, Lucy Wray


Thu 6 Sep, 6.15pm: Peter Newell, advisor on low carbon economy, Green Peace UK board member, speaking on the global politics of transformation to a green future.

Thu 6 Sep, 7pm: Chris Hope, climate modeller and former advisor to the House of Lords inquiry into the economics of climate change, speaking on how carbon tax can transform the economy and address climate change.

Thu 6 Sep, 8pm: Barb Jacobson  works in women’s, housing and community rights and will be speaking on universal basic income.

Thu 6 Sep, 9pm: Fran Boait, Executive Director of Positive Money, speaking on transforming the economic system through changing how money works.

Fri 7 Sep, 6.15pm: Andrew Simms, political economist, campaigner and author of Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity, speaking on the efforts to transition rapidly to a low carbon economy.

Fri 7 Sep, 7pm: Kate Raworth, economist and author of Doughnut Economics, speaking on how the economy is embedded in, and interdependent with, the social and natural world.

Fri 7 Sep, 8pm: Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director at The Equality Trust, speaking on (in)equality and the redistribution of wealth.

Fri 7 Sep, 9pm: Sue Riddlestone, Co-founder of Bioregional (zero carbon communities BedZED & OneBrighton), author of London 2012 Olympic Sustainability Strategy, speaking on how to create low carbon living and its implications.

Sat 8 Sep, 2.15pm: Charlie Kronick is senior climate advisor at Greenpeace speaking on capital markets.

Sat 8 Sep, 3pm: Richard Murphy, political economist & tax avoidance campaigner, speaking on how to reform the UK tax system as the primary means to achieve a better, fairer economics.

Sat 8 Sep, 4pm: Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, speaking on the power of economics for global justice.

Sat 8 Sep, 5pm: Kriti Sharma, artificial intelligence technologist/mobile product inventor, speaking on artificial intelligence and how to avoid replicating human prejudice in its design.

Sat 8 Sep, 6pm: Anna Coote, social policy advocate, analyst and writer, speaking on addressing inequality with universal public services.

Sat 8 Sep, 7pm: David Wetzel, activist and land tax expert, speaking on land ownership reform and how authorities can use tax systems to make better use of urban areas.

Sat 8 Sep, 8pm: Dave Boyle is a community shares expert and advocate speaking on community ownership

Sat 8 Sep, 9pm: Faiza Shaheen, economist, writer, activist & Director of CLASS, speaking on restructuring systems to allow full social mobility.

Sun 9 Sep, 2.15pm: Terry Macalister, freelance journalist, writer and former Energy Editor at The Guardian focused on the impact of trade and industry on the environment, speaking on the future of energy.

Sun 9 Sep, 3pm: Indy Johar, consultant on social systems’ change, co-founder of social ventures including Impact Hub Westminster and Hub Launchpad Accelerator, speaking on thinking big, beyond the limits of contemporary capitalism.

Sun 9 Sep, 4pm: Carolyn Steel, architect, lecturer and author of Hungry City, speaking on how to imagine the future city through its relationship with food.

Sun 9 Sep, 5pm: Indra Adnan, writer, consultant, psycho-social therapist & founder and Director of the Soft Power Network, speaking on the psychology of society and the redistribution of power.                                                                                                                

Sun 9 Sep, 6pm: Will McCallum, activist, author of How to Give Up Plastic and Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK, speaking on solutions to the plastic problem.

Sun 9 Sep, 7pm: Paul Mason, journalist (Channel 4 News’ economics editor/BBC Newsnight’s business editor), filmmaker and author, speaking on the power of collaborative networks for social change.                                                                                                              

The Pit

1 hour 15 minutes/no interval (indicative duration. Tickets are valid for the named speaker’s talk only, after which ticket-holders are invited to participate in the installation for as long as they like)

£12 plus booking fee

Age guidance: 13+

Presented by the Barbican

Commissioned and produced by Artsadmin. Also part of Season for Change

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England with additional support from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Barbican London, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation, and University of Cambridge

Developed as part of the Future Scenarios Networked Residency for the Culture and Climate Change project, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Open University and Sheffield University