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New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival explores feminist futures at the Barbican

New Suns

The Barbican and Sarah Shin bring a day of talks, workshops, screenings and feminist discussion to the Barbican with New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival on Saturday 3 November.

Writers, artists, academics and poets including Preti Taneja, Marina Warner, Joanna Bourke, Kate Zambreno, Pat Cadigan, Akwugo Emejulu, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Victoria Sin, and Lola Olufemi will explore contemporary feminism through the lens of mythology, discussing topics as varied as the #MeToo movement, occult poetry, bodies and sex work, and the fantastic worlds of the late feminist writer Ursula K. Le Guin. Individual events are listed below.

The #MeToo movement and global Women’s March protests have created an explosion of energy, raising questions around power, justice and solidarity. This moment has also sparked a renewal of feminist enquiry through the possibilities of speculative thinking. 

Sarah Shin, co-producer of the festival, said:

‘Mythology underpins the narratives that structure contemporary society. While the myths that continue to dominate the world around us are overwhelmingly patriarchal, this festival aims to explore new stories and counter-narratives that are being invented to build feminist futures.’

New Suns: A Feminist Literary Festival opens a space for these explorations, bringing together writers, artists and audiences to imagine the possibilities of collective action and systemic change.

In the spirit of the 1980s International Feminist Bookfairs, more than thirty publishers including Penguin Random House, Hachette, Fitzcarraldo, And Other Stories, Verso, Serpent’s Tail and Bookworks will host stalls and book signings in the free-to-access Level G spaces at the Barbican.

The title ‘New Suns is inspired by African-American science fiction author Octavia Butler’s epigraph to her last, unfinished novel: ‘There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.’

This festival is part of the Barbican’s 2018 season, The Art of Change, which explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Notes to editors:

New Suns was conceived by Sarah Shin and produced in collaboration with the Barbican.

Sarah Shin
Sarah Shin is a publisher and curator. She is a co-founder and director of the Silver Press and Ignota Books and works at Verso Books.

The Art of Change at the Barbican 2018
The Art of Change 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.

Individual events below; further information can be found on the Barbican’s website.

Us vs. Them: Feminist Myth-making, Power and Disobedient Women
Panel discussion
Sat 3 Nov 1pm, Cinema 2

Authors Maria Dahvana Headley (The Mere Wife), Sophie Mackintosh (The Water Cure) and Preti Taneja (We That Are Young) discuss the many forms of feminist myth making – from subverting conventional gender roles in the stories handed down to us, to giving voice to the silenced and the building of entire new worlds through fiction.

Unruly Bodies
Sat 3 Nov 1pm, Level G Studio

Bethany Rutter, journalist, body activist and editor of Plus+, and Tallulah Pomeroy, illustrator and author of A Girl's Guide to Personal Hygiene, guide a workshop dismantling the myths surrounding bodies and how to reclaim all that is gleeful, gross, subversive, and beautiful about our bodies.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin: A Documentary by Arwen Curry (2018)
Screening and post-show talk
Sat 3 Nov 2pm, Cinema 2

Following a screening of this film – exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K Le Guin – cyberpunk science fiction author Pat Cadigan and writer and activist So Mayer will discuss the themes of language and power in Ursula K Le Guin’s mythopoesis (myth-making).

Canada / US 2018 Dir Arwen Curry 65 min Digital presentation

Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry: A Reading
Poetry reading
Sat 3 Nov 3.30pm, Level G Studio

Readings by Khairani Barokka, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Nisha Ramayya and Sophie Robinson, contributors to Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry, which brings together over thirty contemporary voices exploring the territory where justice, selfhood and the imagination meet the animating power of the occult.

Play It As It Lays 18
Sat 3 Nov 4pm, Cinema 2

An ultra-rare screening of the 1972 adaptation of Joan Didion’s cult novel, starring Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins. Adapted by Didion herself, much of the voiceover narration and dialogue comes direct from the book; protagonist Maria’s shattered sensibility is rendered for the screen as a jumbled mosaic of scenes.

US 1972 Dir Frank Perry 99 min 35mm Presentation

After #MeToo: Consent, Trauma and the Future
Panel discussion
Sat 3 Nov 4.30pm, Frobisher Auditorium 2

Historian Joanna Bourke, writer and activist So Mayer, activist Lola Olufemi and journalist and critic Josephine Livingstone discuss the legacy of the #MeToo movement. What does solidarity look like when race, class, sexuality, disability and gender identity inflect the ability to speak out?

Dream Babes: Speculation and Fantasy as Resistance
Roundtable discussion and reading
Sat 3 Nov 5.30pm, Level G Studio

A roundtable discussion with multidisciplinary performance artist Victoria Sin, Daniel Brathwaite Shirley and Irene Tokini Fubara, with readings exploring speculative fiction as a strategy for social change.

The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights
Book launch with talk
Sat 3 Nov 6pm, Frobisher Auditorium 2

Authors Juno Mac and Molly Smith (Revolting Prostitutes, Verso, 2018) rethink sex, work and migration through a feminist lens, bringing a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. In conversation with sociology professor Akwugo Emejulu.