Press room

The Barbican’s series of free installations continues in 2018

The Barbican has announced a series of free installations as part of its Level G programme featuring work from Troika, Rachel Ara, In the Dark and Falling Tree Productions, Cityscapes with Heywood & Condie and Seth Scott with Hannah Bruce & Co.

  • Borrowed Light by Troika, an artificial infinite loop of sunset and sunrise inspired by moving panoramas.
  • American Beauty (a Trump L'oeil) by Rachel Ara feat. Kay Le Seelleur Ara is a work that references film history, utopian architecture and contemporary politics. Visitors watch as an orange hairpiece dances in the wind around the Barbican Estate, echoing the iconic scene from American Beauty.
  • Soundhouse: The Listening Body by In the Dark and Falling Tree Productions present a collective listening experience designed to provoke the imagination and stimulate the senses.
  • The Hull of a Large Ship explores the Barbican Arts Centre’s original drawings with contributions by five architecture firms.
  • Breathe: A Green Lung by Cityscapes with Heywood & Condie, continues at the Barbican and reflects upon the interactions between people and the plants that are essential for creating healthier cities.
  • Edgelands by Seth Scott with Hannah Bruce & Co returns to the Barbican, inviting visitors to explore, examine, and reimagine the edgelands of this iconic building.

Previously known as the foyers, Level G is the Barbican’s public space where visitors can see art for free, relax and enjoy the iconic building. The Level G programme is dedicated to transforming this public space with installations, exhibitions, talks and events.

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 the 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

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].

Rachel Ara is a conceptual artist whose cross-disciplinary practice is non-conformist with a socio-political edge, often incorporating humour and technology with feminist concerns. A 2016 Lumen Prize Finalist, this year Ara was recently selected for the London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery, and is currently artist-in-residence at the V&A.

This work was selected from a shortlist of winners and finalists from The Lumen Prize for Digital Art in collaboration with the Barbican Centre’s Level G programme. The Lumen Prize, a UK-based not-for-profit, runs a juried competition and events globally aimed at celebrating the very best art created with technology. Last year, Zarah Hussain’s Numina, which also formed part of the Barbican’s Level G programme, won The Lumen Prize People’s Choice Award - determined by a public vote of the Lumen Long List.

American Beauty (a Trump L'oeil) is part of the Barbican’s 2018 Season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

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).

The act of listening to creative radio and podcasts has often been considered a secondary activity - one you might do in motion, submerged in a hot bath or lying in bed on the edge of dreams. 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.

In 2010, Nina Garthwaite set up In The Dark, a media arts organisation best known for its gathered listening events. Run by a collective of audio producers and enthusiasts, In The Dark has gone on to gain a reputation around the world for curating, commissioning and celebrating creative audio.

Eleanor McDowall is a Senior Producer at Falling Tree Productions, which creates features and documentaries for the BBC and high-profile cultural institutions. McDowall is also the founder of Radio Atlas - an online platform and podcast for subtitled audio documentaries, and the series producer of Short Cuts - a home for new, adventurous audio documentaries on BBC Radio 4.

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 History of the Arts Centre doesn’t map itself neatly. Its development, from the first concept of a small cultural centre within the City of London in the early 1950s, to its eventual opening in 1982, was fraught with difficulties and changes continued to be made to the plans throughout the construction period. The Hull of a Large Ship includes key Barbican reports and Journal publications describing the cultural centres that were built all over Europe and the US which were visited in a trip organised by the architects and a delegation of the Barbican Committee in 1958.

The exhibition is curated and designed by Daniela Puga.

Cityscapes with Heywood & Condie Breathe: A Green Lung
Tue 13 Mar–Mon 7 May 2018
Free

Breathe: A Green Lung is an installation that reflects upon the interactions between people and the plants that are essential for creating healthier cities. The installation comprises of two living wall structures forming a triangular enclosure, with openings that provide vantage points to view an inner sanctuary with stained-glass greenhouse inside. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the sound and light that emanates from inside and contemplate the new relationships we must continue to forge with the natural world.

A lack of clean air is a recognised problem in urban areas. One way of addressing this is by increasing the amount of plants we have in our buildings, and the spaces around them. By creating ‘living walls’ (structures often made of foliage, flowers and trees), we allow these organic systems to purify the air we breathe, both indoors and outdoors. Plants absorb carbon dioxide through their root systems and trap other polluting matter, and Breathe: A Green Lung is a creative interpretation of the ‘ecosystem services’ they are providing.

Devised by Cityscapes with Heywood & Condie and delivered in partnership with Treebox by Biotecture. The project is funded as part of the City of London Corporation’s Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN) project and is supported by the Mayor of London.

Breathe: A Green Lung is part of the Barbican’s 2018 Season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

Seth Scott with Hannah Bruce & Co - Edgelands
Sat 17 Mar–Sun 1 Jul 2018
Free

Roam the Barbican’s Level G using headphones to experience this free audio journey, which reframes the sounds and sights of the iconic arts centre.

In the company of elusive characters and their fantastic sound worlds, visitors are invited to explore, examine, and reimagine the edgelands of the Barbican, seeking out the extraordinary inside a building famed for its radical design and ambition. Visitors will discover an architecture of other spaces, resounding with the echoes of the Centre’s utopian foundations.

Created by Seth Scott with Hannah Bruce & Co, Edgelands uses an iBeacon network – a series of sensors positioned across four levels of the Barbican’s public spaces – to trigger soundsapes directly from audiences’ mobile devices and allows them to explore the history of the Barbican

Visitors can start the journey by downloading the Edgelands app onto a smartphone or tablet. Alternatively, devices and headphones are available to borrow from the top floor of the Barbican Shop on Level G.

ENDS