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Rachel Mars

Rachel Mars welds a gate with the words 'After' shown backwards. Sparks are flying and they are set against a purple background

A powerful durational installation with on-stage metal work exploring who memorials are for and what happens to places where traumatic events take place.

In 2014 the 100kg iron 'welcome' gate was stolen from Dachau concentration camp. A local blacksmith forged a replica. It was exactly like the original. Almost. 

Over four days artist Rachel Mars invites you to bear witness as she welds together another copy of the gate. This impactful performance installation asks questions about memorials and tackles what it is to preserve a site of collective trauma. 

Sound Designer Dinah Mullen creates a live soundtrack, orchestrating an atmospheric sound-world that includes previously recorded metal work, bespoke compositions and a library of Memorial Silences. 

Rachel Mars is a performance maker whose smart-witted, intricate work - rooted in Queerness and complex Jewishness - interweaves personal reflection with universal questions. FORGE was developed as part of the Barbican Open Lab programme.

Age guidance: 16+  

The themes of this installation link to genocide and the Holocaust, without direct imagery. 

There will be flashing lights, loud noises and unexplained noises within the installation space. 

You are invited to watch, sit, and be immersed in this durational installation. Multiple time slots are available each day. You can plan to stay as long as you like, subject to capacity. 

For safety reasons, please arrive wearing a long sleeve top, long trousers covering your ankles with no exposed skin and closed covered shoes. Please note that if you aren't wearing the appropriate clothing you will be refused entry. A protective welding helmet and apron will be provided to wear at all times during your visit.  According to Jewish custom you'll be invited to wash your hands before leaving the space.

FORGE also features two associated public conversations focussing on personal, local and national/international issues of memorial: 

The Politics of Memorials: How We Shape Memory in Public Space
Tue 16 May, Barbican Theatre (tickets £3*)

Difficult Inheritances: Jewish Artists On Confronting Their Histories 
Fri 19 May, Fountain Room (tickets £3*)

Presented by the Barbican

Commissioned by the Barbican, Transform, Cambridge Junction with support from the Stobbs New Ideas Fund

Using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. With support from Chapter Arts Centre, Horizon: Performance Made in England, Metal Culture, MGCFutures and Asylum Arts. Originally developed through the Barbican Open Lab programme. First performed at Transform Festival, Leeds 2022

Image: JMA Photography


‘A triumphant show dripping with uninhibited desire‘
The Guardian on YOUR SEXTS ARE SH*T
‘Magnificent, angry, slyly funny and necessary‘
Lyn Gardiner, The Guardian on Mars.tarrab's ROLLER


Artist Rachel Mars stands against a cream wall wearing protective clothing. A metal structure is next to them.

Read: Meet the artist

'Really what I’m trying to do is create a public space to assemble, to consider things that are a bit tricky'.

Find out more about Rachel Mars' practice, including their experiences as an artist and their relationship with the Barbican.

The Pit