Positioning London at the forefront of international performance art, Block Universe 2018 featured three UK premieres and seven new, site-specific commissions by artists working at the cross-section of contemporary visual art, dance and music. This edition explored themes that act as a counterpoint to the divisiveness created by contemporary politics, focusing on, as well as questioning, utopian ideals of community and collectivity. By addressing the ways in which we relate to one another, the contributors responded both to the larger fabric of society that binds us as well as to the politics of sex and love in our personal relationships.
In collaboration with major cultural institutions and organisations across the city, including the Royal Academy of Arts, Siobhan Davies Dance, The Store X, British Museum, Somerset House, Studio Voltaire, Oval Space and Brunel Museum the festival presented work by some of the most innovative UK-based and international artists working in performance today, alongside talks, workshops and special projects.
Block Universe 2018 team: Louise O’Kelly, Founding Director & Curator; Katharina Worf, Co-Curator; Tatjana Damm, Business Development; Xica Aires, Head of Production; Elli Resvanis, General Manager; Halime Özdemir, Development. Thank you to all our volunteers for their support!
Block Universe’ evening of performances and launch of the festival took place at 180 The Strand and featured special interventions, performances and DJ-sets by:
Josephine Chime (In Flames)
Rowdy SS feat. Rebecca Bellatoni
Zoee featuring Rafal Zajko
Thank you to all the incredible artists who kicked off the festival.
*New Commission in partnership with Outset Contemporary Art Fund
Gery Georgieva (b. 1986, Varna, Bulgaria) new piece of live work will transform the premises of the Oval Space with a multimedia installation. Taking inspiration from the wellspring or public tap as a traditional site of encounter and intrigue, she will explore the relationship between heritage, folk culture and individualistic empowerment through the figure of the diva. Featuring a soundtrack of new musical collaborations with Endgame and Junior XL as well as a selection of Bulgarian covers, the artist will use her own voice and body as a site for these considerations and reconfigurations. Selected solo exhibitions and projects include: Swimming Pool Projects, Sofia, Bulgaria (2017); Hunter / Whitfield, London, UK (2017); (AND/OR), London, UK (2016) and Frieze Film commissioned by Random Acts Channel 4 for Frieze Art Fair (2015).
* UK Premiere commissioned in partnership with The Store X, supported by Mid Atlantic Art Fund
Thursday 24 May 2018, 7pm
Artist Talk: Maria Hassabi with Tate Curator Catherine Wood
The Store X, 180 The Strand, London WC2R 1EA, UK
Monday 28 May 2018, 2pm-4pm
STAGING: A Movement Workshop with Maria Hassabi
Siobhan Davies Dance, 85 St George’s Rd, London SE1 6ER, UK
*New Commission in partnership with Gaia Art Foundation.
Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnson-Small (b. London, UK), is an artist of Caribbean descent based in London, who works with in-between spaces; with things that exist in and through cracks in time, memory, attention, syncopation, trance states, internal narratives, electronic music and two-step dances, navigating bodies as object, animal, human, machine, environment, and energy to build atmospheric landscapes created by the live unfolding of the tensions between things that produce meaning. Johnson-Small has formed long-term collaborations with other artists including Project O with Alexandrina Hemsley, immigrants and animals with Mira Kautto (2009-2016) and more recently work with Fernanda Munoz-Newsome, HOTLINE with Sara Sassanelli, and GUSH, a semi-regular low-key DIY event. Recent performances have been shown as part of Fierce Festival, Birmingham, UK (2017) and the ICA, London, UK (2018). Upcoming residencies and performances include Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire, UK; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France and The Showroom, London, UK (all 2018).
Hanne Lippard (b. 1984, Milton Keynes, UK) is a British Norwegian artist based in Berlin who focuses on the production of language solely through the use of voice. In performances, installations, videos and audio pieces, she arranges, composes and combines her own wordplays with words by others. Fragments from everyday speech, sourced from various online platforms, are constantly reworked through the use of repetition, pronunciation and rhythm. Phrases and images associated with contemporary topics such as work, success, and lifestyles are evoked. By merging content and form and through a gentle rhyme, her vivid words begin to lose their prescribed value and modify to take on new meanings. With an almost hypnotic, cleansing approach, the vocal sequences sink into the listener’s mind and create a free-form, associative pattern of melodic, linguistic formulas.
Giselle Stanborough (b.1986, Waratah, NSW, Australia) is an intermedia artist based in Sydney. Her works combine online and offline elements to address how user generated media encourage us to identify and perform notions of self, and the relationship between connectivity and isolation. Motivated by a curiosity in the increasing indeterminacy between the private and public spheres, Stanborough’s work often addresses contemporary interpersonal experiences in relation to technology, feminism and consumer capitalism. Her work has featured in the Washington Post’s “Pictures of the Day” and has been shown at major venues in the Asia-Pacific region such as Australian Center for Contemporary Art (ACCA) (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney, Australia (2017); Houngcheol Choi, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) (2017); Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, Australia (2015) and Next Wave Festival 2014, Melbourne, Australia (2014).
*New Commission in partnership with Delfina Foundation and European ArtEast Foundation.
To coincide with his exhibition at Delfina Foundation, Romanian artist Alex Mirutziu will present a new performance work in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts.
Referencing philosophical thought, national displays of power and collective agency, Doing Sub Thinking seeks to illustrate the performative forces at play in society. Exploring the de-personalisation of an individual within a crowd, Mirutziu will bring the audience on a journey to make manifest the intangible gaps between thought and action within group dynamics.
2 & 3.6.2018
*New Commission in association with Studio Voltaire, Supported by Battersea Power Station Foundation, Aziz Foundation and Lambeth Community Events Fund
Collective practice They Are Here present ROUTINE, an evening of live comedy by Londoners living precariously.
This new performance was initiated by an invitation to community activist groups across London to attend a series of free stand–up comedy workshops led by professional comedian Logan Murray. Participating groups include Migrants Organise, Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation Brixton, the Independent Workers Union, X–Talk and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service.
Amongst the participants are a Bulgarian cleaner turned small business owner, a rat–catcher, a refugee living in an East London anarchist squat, a sex–worker, a freelance writer and a Deliveroo courier. The performances comprise a series of five minute routines presented in the gallery which has temporarily transformed into a comedy club, guest compered by The White Pube.
ROUTINE offers a platform for Londoners living precariously to practice comedy as a vehicle to address the politics and intersection of self–representation, migration and the gig economy. It is a live element of They Are Here’s project Laughing Matter (24 May–10 June 2018), which also includes an installation of sculpture, soundworks and video.
Laughing Matter is the culmination of In Residence, a new strand of Studio Voltaire’s Participation Programme, which supports artists with a particular focus on public and social practice, connecting the gallery with our locality over an extended period of time.
Supported by Battersea Power Station Foundation, Aziz Foundation and Lambeth Community Events Fund.
Special thanks to Battersea Arts Centre, Somerset House Studios and MayDay Rooms.
*New Commission supported by Mondriaan Art Fund
Nora Turato (b. 1991, Zagreb, Croatia) is a performance artist based in Amsterdam. As part of her practice she harnesses the versatility of language as an instrument in her absorbing spoken word displays that blur the line between contemporary music and performance art. She is a graphic design graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Werkplaats Typografie, and is currently in residence at the prestigious Rijksakademie. Additionally recording as Turato91, she released her debut Girls Gotta Look Out For Each Other Thats All in 2016. Turato has performed internationally, at venues such as: Museion Bozen, Bolzano, Italy (2017); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2017); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany (2017); Kunstverein Cologne, Cologne, Germany (2017); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2017) and the Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennial (2016). Forthcoming projects include a performance at LISTE Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria and Manifesta, Palermo, Italy (all 2018).
You would almost expect to find it warm (2018) by Laura Wilson is a site-specific commission from Block Universe and Franck Bordese, with the support of the British Museum, Institut Français and Arts Council England. Thank you to Jean-Marc Choblet, Anne Hansen (in honour of) and Mr & Mrs B. Bordese.
Performed by Elina Akhmetova, Kirsty Arnold, Iris Chan, Adam Moore, Daniel Persson and Piedad Seiquer. With thanks to Yeast Bakery.
Ahead of Maria Hassabi’s first performance ever in London, Tate Curator Catherine Wood will be in conversation with the artist at The Store X, 180 The Strand, London.
In association with Studio Voltaire, Supported by Battersea Power Station Foundation, Aziz Foundation and Lambeth Community Events Fund
Screening and Discussion with Nina Power, Rosalie Schweiker, Harminder Judge and They Are Here.
Taking its cue from They Are Here’s new work, Welcome (2018), inspired by a line from Homer Simpson in the episode Mom & Pop Art (1999), the artists have convened a panel of Simpson’s enthusiasts. Their discussions will touch on the Lisa Simpson Book Club, notable predictions of the future in the series and the recent documentary The Problem With Apu (2017). Attendees will be welcome to share their favourite clips via youtube.
The Simpson’s Symposium is part of the events program for They Are Here’s project Laughing Matter and the Block Universe 2018 Public Programme. Laughing Matter forms part of In Residence, a new strand of Studio Voltaire’s Participation Programme, which supports artists with a particular focus on public and social practice.
About the panel
Rosalie Schweiker is an artist. Her contribution to the Simpson’s Symposium is in collaboration with her Simpson’s obsessed brother Stefan Schweiker.
Nina Power is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton and the author of many texts on philosophy, politics and culture.
Harminder Judge is an artist working across performance, installation, sculpture, print and video. He is currently undertaking a postgraduate fine art programme at the Royal Academy. In the last 6 months he has been developing material techniques inspired by Indian Tantric painting, continuing ongoing explorations of Western esotericism and Eastern mysticism.
They Are Here is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker and Harun Morrison. They are currently based in London and on the River Lea. Their works can be read as a series of context specific non-narrative conceptual games.
A workshop with Block Universe artist Maria Hassabi in collaboration with Siobhan Davies Dance Space.
London’s leading International Performance Festival, Block Universe, and Siobhan Davies Dance invite you to a two-hour long workshop with acclaimed choreographer and artist Maria Hassabi (b. 1973, Cyprus, lives in NY). Over the years Hassabi has developed a distinct practice that utilizes slowness and stillness, as techniques in choreographies that oscillate between dance and sculpture, subject and object, live body and still image. Most recently, she presented her works at K20, Düsseldorf, and Documenta 14, Kassel, where dancers moved their bodies at slow, sometimes imperceptible velocities, enacting choreographic cycles that looped throughout the museum’s opening hours, creating a recurrent form that occupied a specific space and seemingly unbroken time.
As a response to this year’s festival theme, which addresses the ways that we relate to one another and examines personal relationships, Maria Hassabi will take her own practice as a starting point and will explore everyday movements that can be used to stimulate creativity. Much of the emphasis will lie on breathing, weight, muscular strength and the sound of the body, with the aim of making us more deeply aware of the body.
Curator Vanessa Boni in conversation with Block Universe artist Hanne Lippard.
Join Bristol’s Spike Island Curator Vanessa Boni and Block Universe artist Hanne Lippard for a lunchtime talk, discussing the artists ongoing practice in relation to storytelling, immateriality, absurdity, black humour and what it means to solely use the voice as artistic medium.
In partnership with Somerset House, supported by Goethe Institute.
30.5 & 1.6.2018
The Morning After Breakfast Club
Sex Stories hosted by Jenny Moore and Chloe Cooper
Free to attend, you buy your breakfast
In that early hour between the walk of shame and the water cooler, meet us at People’s Choice café for confessions, trips, insights, gossip, spoilers, scoops, lies, jokes and fantasies-cum-reality or the ones that stay imaginary. With special guest storytellers, sex tales will be told and heard. Fry ups, croissants, coffee, diet coke, bloody mary’s – whatever your poison, come and be with us in the waking hour. It’s the morning after and we’re here for you.
With stories by Hannah Witton, Bwalya Newton, Eleanor Sikorski and Jessie McLaughlin. *Special placemat for attendees with text by Sophie Risner.
The Morning After is a breakfast club inspired by Jenny and Chloe’s work with Bedfellows – a group of people making tools to re-educate themselves about sex. Since we are the queer babies of a heterosexist, racist, abelist, classist patriarchy, we’ve gotta find other ways to learn about sex in a way that celebrates all our bodies, all our genders, all our desires.
Drinks reception and the last chance to see Alex Mirutziu’s exhibition “Between too soon and too late” at Delfina Foundation – and hear from the artist – on the final day of the show.
The event followed Alex Mirutziu’s newly commisioned performance work, showing between 3pm and 4pm in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of the Arts as part of Block Universe festival. The work, Doing sub thinking, explores the de-personalisation of an individual within a crowd and is co-commissioned with Delfina Foundation and European ArtEast Foundation.
In partnership with Protein Studios, Shoreditch
This edition presents:
Season Butler, Evan Ifekoya and Harun Morrison
HOTLINE aims to be a critical space for discussion and disagreements, not an artist talk. An itinerant space for provocations & opinions, beyond your bedroom, books, bad journalism and your social media feed.
HOTLINE is a constantly shifting format for a public conversation, a space to share in the love the hate the ambivalence and the complexity of things, hosted by Jamila Johnson-Small and Sara Sassanelli. HOTLINE now happens subject to invitation by a space/individual/festival.
We are interested in why people do what they do, how the particular logics are formed that drive and direct decisions/actions/tastes and art-making. We are interested in shifting needs provoked by the contemporary condition and looking for ways to collectively re-organise and think through conversation, to encourage generative exchange and live encounters that can serve to activate bold creative action.
We are disinterested in the growing demand for artists to be present in ways beyond the show/exhibition/text that create spaces and exacerbate systems of unequal exchange. At HOTLINE we invite, and expect, everyone present to bring what they’re bringing, supported by the presentations offered by three people each session.
26 May – 3 June 2018
The Block Universe Satellite Programme is a new addition to the festival and highlights events, performances and exhibitions at the following venues: Bold Tendencies, Bosse & Baum, Kunstraum, Tenderpixel and Ryder Projects.
Bold Tendencies is excited to present ten new commissions from international artists in the rooftop spaces of the Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park for our most ambitious summer project to date. Working across art, orchestral music, opera and architecture Bold Tendencies will open to the public 18 May – 22 September 2018.
The focus for this year’s art commissions is Ecology and the commissioned artists are: Johann Arens, Sian Lyn Hutchings, Irina Kirchuk, Lawrence Lek, Arjuna Neuman, João Vasco Paiva, Sterling Ruby, Emilija Škarnulytė, Jenna Sutela, and Richard Wentworth.
Bosse & Baum will present the work STORM II, a performance of sounds and words by Andrea Koch (musician and sound-maker) & Caterina Silva (visual artist). Beginning as an attempt to describe the evolution of Caterina’s creative process through language, Storm II becomes a dialogue and a fight, in which theory, chemical formulas, storytelling and poetry are transfigured into sound and music. The time-lapse between the voice and its implosion generates a distance, a state of quietness, similar to the moment that takes place just before a storm hits. The work will be part of a series of performances on occasion of Caterina Silva’s solo exhibition, Impressione, at Bosse & Baum.
“When she died at 3 in the morning, the doctors came along and I said: ‘open the window let the soul out’ and I thought after this: ‘Why did I say that?’ I don’t really believe in it do I? But I said it and I still wanted the window open and I can’t explain that sometimes.”
‘Allusion to a body no longer present’ is a collaboration between artists Tyler Eash and Sara Rodrigues, curated by Camille Bréchignac and produced with Kunstraum for the satellite programme of Block Universe.
Initially conceived for the Swiss Church in London, the performative installation will be reworked within Saint Giles, a 14th Century Gothic church at the heart of the Barbican. The performance, featuring the artists alongside Rodrigo B. Camacho and Alexandra Baybutt, is comprised of spoken text, music, choreography and sculpture. The script is derived from interviews with members of the Swiss Church congregation on the significance of self, search for meaning, and remembrance after death.
Bosse & Baum will be hosting a public presentation and discussion around the practice of Anna Zett, as part of the research programme, Micro Social Cultures. This research-based series has been curated by writer Jamie Sutcliffe, and will involve collaborations with the artists, Hamish McPherson, Jenny Moore, Adam James & Sarah Jury. The event is limited to 20 spaces, please RSVP by emailing the gallery.
Anna Zett is an artist, writer, director of films and radio plays, born in Leipzig and living in Berlin. Working alone and in teams, Zett combines historical research and symbolic reflection with a performative practice rooted in the unscripted, undetermined present situation. In 2014 she published her first two longer videos, both dealing with the dinosaur as an imperial emblem, which were screened internationally in various contexts and art institutions. Since then her focus shifted from imaging technologies to voice and body as complex human media linking improvised process and symbolic control. In recent years Zett has written and directed two radio dramas for the German public radio, and (co-)hosted various participatory formats ranging from dance to story telling. There will be an artist talk on 4th June, 7pm, at Play Co. Studio, Soho. Please RSVP by emailing the gallery.
Please join us for the launch of Chateau Récit No.1: Eau! by Billie Muraben. Eau! considers the tricksy history of the dancing fountain. From its origins in Ancient Greece, through Renaissance Italy and Louis Vuitton’s Paris fondation; to theories of a flat earth, and the Tower of Babel; Louis XIV’s Les Grandes Musicales at the Château de Versailles and Steve Wynn’s Fountains of Bellagio: “How cool is that?!” Chateau Récit is a new series of quarterly photo-text essays from Chateau International.
Tenderpixel’s current series loos at the notion of the ‘Hangover’ as a viscreal, bodily metaphor for our times often also called the Anthropocene. With interlinking exhibitions and events the series unfolds how being able to exist on this planet is so evidently contingent on sharing it: as bodies as well as social beings, economic and ecological factors, our fate is bound to other entities. Tenderpixel will release events including screenings and talks as part of the Block Universe programme.
Andrés Pereira Paz (Bolivia, 1986) has conceived Secret Anthem for a World of Values, a unique event for Block Universe Festival that entails a participatory performance and a resulting audio piece at the end. Upon their entrance to the gallery, visitors will be given a set of instructions in order to trigger their thoughts about the emotions felt before moving to somewhere else, at the very moment leaving behind a place that meant something for them. A big roll of paper will be placed throughout the gallery space for the audience to write a sentence that can relate to that farewell situation before experiencing a territorial transition. Once the participant has written it, the information will be rolled and hidden to the next participant, following a similar dynamic as in an exquisite corpse. The text left by the intervention of all visitors will be converted in an audio piece sent via email to each participant during the month of July 2018.
Block Universe x Goldsmiths, University of London
Here is the recording of the panel discussion:
To coincide with the launch of the fourth edition of Block Universe, London’s leading International Performance Art Festival; this panel discussion will bring together a number of contributors across disciplines to discuss past and current dynamics of performance art in the UK, and providing a platform to consider the historical significance of the ephemeral nature of performance art, through the lens and personal accounts of artists, critics, curators and academics.
The participants include the subversive 1980s performance group The Neo Naturists; Ellen Van Schuylenburch, one of the founding members of Michael Clark Company, Jane Pritchard, curator of dance for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Lois Keidan, director of the London-based Live Art Development Agency – LADA, as well as artists Evan Ifekoya & Victoria Sin, who are both contributing to this year’s edition of the Block Universe.
Together we will explore ideas of an active, living archive, one that takes into account the ability of performance to sustain itself and live on through the body rather than the record, thus re-positioning the body as the centre for knowledge in place of the archive. Can we take the inherent choreographic vocabulary in dance as an example? How can performance as memory exist?
The talk will be moderated by Louise O’Kelly, founder Block Universe and hosted by Astrid Schmetterling, Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, followed by an informal drinks reception to be held at the Student Union Bar.
This event is supported by Goldsmiths, University London and Outset.