Block Universe owes its existence to a desire to support a marginal, innovative and under-represented form of creation, the festival has therefore – since its inception – focused on the audience and transmission which are absolutely essential to sustain its cause. The DNA of performative forms is closely linked to questions of diversity, acceptance of others and accessibility – Block Universe naturally defends the values carried by the art it defends and makes it its priority. During the festival or as offsite events, Block Universe organised talks, workshops, podcasts and other events that you can discover below.
The Standard London, 10 Argyle St, London WC1H 8EG
Block Universe, London’s leading performance art festival is teaming up with the independent online radio – Know Wave – to delight your ears with a discussion on the mysterious links between performance and transcendence.
On this occasion, Louise O’Kelly, founder and curator of the festival, catch up with two artists from the 2019 edition Paul Maheke and Melika Ngombe Kolongo (Nkisi) for a mystical exchange.
Listen on Spotify
For more information about Paul Maheke and Melika Ngombe Kolongo (Nkisi)’s performance for Block Universe 2019, click here.
The Arts Club, London
The role of performance art is under the spotlight as social distancing measures, restrictions on international travel and bans on large gatherings continue, as the world adapts to a ‘new normal’.
In this talk we consider the prominence of performance art in galleries, museums, art fairs and biennials prior to lockdown, with a focus on leading voices in the field and the previous trend in staging performance throughout the art world. We explore how the live sector is adapting with Louise O’Kelly of Block Universe, London’s leading international performance art festival and commissioning body, alongside Turner prize winner, Tai Shani and collector and art historian, Catherine Petitgas.
The Standard London, 10 Argyle St, London WC1H 8EG
Block Universe, London’s leading international performance art festival and commissioning body kicks off Frieze Week with Founding Director & Curator Louise O’Kelly in conversation with artist Oliver Beer, known for creating performances focussed on the relationship between sound and space, particularly the voice and architecture.
Listen in on the conversation at The Standard, London’s Library Lounge and hear more about Beer’s upcoming performances and exhibitions that will be taking place at the Louvre and the Opera Garnier this September. Previous presentations have taken place at the Palais de Tokyo, Fondation Vuitton and Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, London amongst others.
Click here to listen to the recording of the talk.
Instructions for Living a Life
Podcast by Sarah Shin & M.J. Harding
“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” — Mary Oliver
Instructions for Living a Life is a podcast journey by M.J. Harding and Sarah Shin through inner and outer space bringing together sound, poetry and instructions. A proposal for inhabitation as a practice of freedom and beauty as survival strategy, Instructions for Living a Life explores the coincidence of psychic, geometric and embodied spaces through rituals and exercises of listening, dwelling and breath.
1: Aura Satz, ‘Tuning Fork Spell’, 2020. Watercolour on black paper, beads.
2 – 5: Ancient tantric art from Rajasthan, India.
Block Universe and Tate invite a selection of artists, curators and writers to reflect on contemporary choreographic practice. Responding to the term ‘post-dance’, coined at the MDT conference in Stockholm (2015), the event considers the implications of an expanded notion of choreography.
Our contributors will be asked to issue provocations and responses that consider choreography in artistic practice. Exploring questions around liveness and the embodied labour of dance, join us in discussing what this means for an expanded understanding of contemporary dance and movement-related practices. Invited to present provocations are artists’ Malik Nashad Sharpe, Paul Maheke, Florence Peake & Eve Stainton from the perspective of their collaboration and academic Amanda Øiestad Nilsen. The event will be chaired by Curator of Nottingham Contemporary, Cedric Fauq.
There will be space for group discussion with the audience during the event. Following the event join us for a performance hosted by CAJ COLLAB in the East Room. CAJ COLLAB is a collaborative platform that invites two artists from different disciplines who have never worked together before to create a piece of performance in one day.
Click here to listen to the conference. Please note the recording is in two parts.
Photos by Manuela Barczewski
This symposium, created in partnership with Goldsmiths Visual Cultures Student Society, will reflect upon contemporary performance practices, looking at the relation of self, identity politics and digital space in the realisation of live work in the UK.
With speakers Isobel Harbison, Hannah Perry, Emily Rosamond, Erica Scourti and Chooc Ly Tan.
Chooc Ly Tan – Find out more about the artist’s practice here http://chooclytan.com/about.html
Emily Rosamond – Find out more about the artist’s practice here http://www.emilyrosamond.com/
Erica Scourti – Find out more about the artist’s practice here http://www.ericascourti.com/
Hannah Perry – Find out more about the artist’s practice here http://www.hannahperry.com/
Isobel Harbison – Find out more about Performing Image here https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/performing-image
Supported by Arts Council England
In the 1980s, the influential Performance Magazine (1979-1992) started presenting performance art events in London, including Art in Danger, At the Edge and Last Sweat of Youth at the Diorama and AIR Gallery. This culminated in EDGE 88, one of London’s first site-specific performance/installation festivals and the focus of the recent Edge of an Era project exploring performance art in the late 1980s.
EDGE 88 was a forerunner of London based festivals that emerged in in the 2000s such as Block Universe, Fig 1 and 2, SPILL Festival of Performance, Steakhouse Live, Tempting Failure and others, and this event brings together a panel of artists and curators from the 1980s and now to look at the context that EDGE 88 operated in and how that compares with the current landscape in which Block Universe presents its work. Featuring Rob La Frenais (original director of EDGE and co-curator of Edge of an Era), Helena Goldwater (artist and co-curator of Edge of an Era), Phoebe Patey Ferguson (academic, artist and curator of VFD, London), Louise O’Kelly (Founding Director and Curator of Block Universe) and Alex Eisenberg (LADA and co-curator of Edge of an Era).
Some of the questions that the panel will address are: What are the changes in the artistic landscape and the visibility of performance art practices? What artistic lineages do artists identify with now and how does this affect their relationship to the history of performance? What are the political resonances between the late 1980s and now and how does this impact on the work that is being made and presented?
As part of the evening we will also screen a short film by Morgan Quaintance commissioned for Edge of an Era, 2019, Anne, Paul and Richard, which evokes the spirit of the 1980s through the work of Bow Gamelan Ensemble (Anne Bean, Paul Burwell and Richard Wilson).
All photos by Manuela Barczewski except last image: Video still from EDGE 88, Told by an Idiot – Derek Kreckler, Adrienne Gaha and Sarah Miller, 1988.
Supported by Arts Council England
Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick in conversation with Block Universe artist Alexandra Pirici.
Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick and Block Universe artist Alexandra Pirici, for a lunchtime talk, discussed the artists ongoing practice and her work Leaking Territories, on view at London’s Imperial War Museum from 22-28 May, 2-6pm daily.
Alexandra Pirici is an artist with a background in dance and choreography who works undisciplined, across different mediums. Her work has been exhibited within the decennial art exhibition Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, the Venice Biennale – Romanian Pavilion at the 55th edition, Tate Modern London, New Museum New York, Art Basel Messeplatz, The 9th Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 10, Centre Pompidou – Paris, Museum Ludwig Cologne, the Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Russian Museum St. Petersburg, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, HAU Theatre Berlin, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, among many others. Alexandra Pirici works in museum, theatrical frameworks and the public space. Her performative artworks fuse dance, sculpture, spoken word and music. They deal with monumentality or history, playfully tackling and transforming existing hierarchies; they reflect on the history and function of gestures in art and popular culture, or on questions about the body, its presence, absence or image, and the politics of capture.
Climavore Residency in partnership with Outset.
Photos by Nikos Akritidis
Reading and artist talk with Block Universe artist Sophie Jung at 30 Old Burlington Street (Cork Street Galleries) on Sunday, 19 May 2019.
Sophie Jung read The Bigger Sleep libretto and was joined by Paul Clinton for a conversation, discussing the artists practice and her work The Bigger Sleep – rehush (hush) which premiered in London with Block Universe on 18 May 2019.
Excerpt: We don’t fall in love with the fictional detective because she knows all the answers and always gets it right. We identify with her because she too is caught in signs, bungling interpretations of words or events, and only occasionally stumbling upon something like a workable meaning. If Jung were pretending not to perform, not to be delivering words for an audience, but just saying them straight and sincerely, in full confidence of their meaning, that would be the real con trick. Authenticity here is in acknowledging the pretence.
Sophie Jung might be the loose end artist. Her way of allowing things to hang is another way of keeping them dynamic, without resolution, not finishing an idea or a work. This suspension, or lack of resolution, is as much a purgatory and limbo as it is a way of keeping things alive and open.
The Bigger Sleep – rehush (hush) is an adaptation of Jung’s major installation at the Kunstmuseum Basel into a site-specific performance for Block Universe’s 2019 edition.
12noon Reading by Sophie Jung
1:30pm Sophie Jung in conversation with Paul Clinton
A limited and signed edition of Sophie Jung’s libretto was available during the event.
The set of The Bigger Sleep – rehush (hush) could be visited daily from 11am to 6pm from the 19 May to 1 June.
Photos by Manuela Barczewski
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Curator Chandra Frank in conversation with Block Universe artist Zadie Xa, moderated by Victor Wang.
Goldsmith lecturer Chandra Frank will be in conversation with Block Universe artist Zadie Xa, discussing her ongoing practice in relation to ideas of nationhood, identity and the displacement within the Asian diaspora. The conversation will be moderated by the London and Shanghai based curator and researcher Victor Wang.
Image credit: Arron Leppard
Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN
Block Universe organised an after-show talk between Louise O’Kelly and Trajal Harrel at Lilian Baylis Studio / Sadler’s Wells after the presentation of Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at The Judson Church (S) during the 2016 edition of the Festival
Trajal Harrell’s current practice examines butoh dance from the theoretical praxis of voguing. This latest body of work includes Used Abused and Hung Out to Dry, which premiered at The Museum of Modern Art, where he has begun a two-year residency. An American artist, Harrell’s work has been presented at many major venues and international festivals including The New Museum, New York, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Art Basel-Miami Beach.
Artist niv Acosta is in conversation with Louise O’Kelly, Founding Director, Block Universe. This is ahead of the UK premiere of niv Acosta’s DISCOTROPIC | Alien Talk Show at David Roberts Art Foundation (Sat 4 June) as part of Block Universe. In this performance niv Acosta seizes on an elementary medium of intimate exposure—television and the confessional culture of the talk show—to explore the relationships between science fiction, disco, astrophysics and the black American experience.
Image credit: Arron Leppard
Through a series of quick-fire conversations and presentations, this public seminar held by curatorial research group The Consonants explored a series of approaches to curating durational, context-specific and performative artwork that reflects the broad range of institutional, medium and geographic contexts of the participants, within the context of Block Universe.
Initiated by Fatos Üstek and comprised of curators Charles Aubin, Maaike Gouwenberg, Rose Lejeune, Margarida Mendes, Margit Neuhold, Louise O’Kelly, Ben Roberts and Nadine Zeidler. The Consonants is an international curatorial research group that explore their various curatorial practices as a framework for dialogue and a site of research.
The Consonants is part of Vision Forum’s network, founded by Per Hüttner and supported by the Universitet Linköpings, Sweden. Vision Forum is an organisation that carries out research in contemporary art and organises events that transgresses the boundaries between performance, exhibition, workshops and education.
Delfina Foundation (29-31 Catherine Pl, London SW1E 6DY)
Join us for a talk with the artist Sena Başöz discussing with writer and academic Dr Davina Quinlivan – author of ‘Filming the body in crisis: trauma, healing and hopefulness‘ – on the process of creating her new performance commission, Slalom.
We will explore the artist’s performative practice and relation to archive. Concerned with a future impacted by climate change her latest research from the Wellcome Collection archives explores the role of the body practicing ‘care” through the archival process, both as a means of healing and regenerating new futures.
Sena Başöz is a Turkish artist and filmmaker based in Istanbul. Her work investigates healing processes after cases of trauma focusing on regeneration possibilities of what is frozen, dead, stale or lost. The organism’s self-repair and the balance nature obtains in the long run constitute the backbone of the narratives she employs in her works. Her recent solo exhibitions were Clam at Matsuake, Librairie Yvon Lambert, Paris, Astronomical Movements at Bilsart, Istanbul and Ars Oblivionis at Lotsremark Projekte, Basel.
Dr Davina Quinlivan is a writer and academic. Her research explores the correspondences between film, philosophy and literature, especially the representation of the body and the senses. She is the author of several monographs including Filming the Body in Crisis: Trauma, Healing and Hopefulness (Palgrave, 2015), The Place of Breath in Cinema (EUP, 2012), The Spirit of the Beehive (BFI Film Classics, forthcoming) and Joanna Hogg: New British Art Cinema, Female Identity and Aesthetics (EUP, forthcoming). Her work has featured as part of programmed, public events at The Wallace Museum, The Serpentine Gallery, The Tavistock Clinic London, Birds Eye View (Reclaim the Frame) and the British Film Institute. She regularly teaches her film seminar series ‘F: For Flânerie‘ at The Freud Museum and is part of the teaching ensemble for The New School of the Anthropocene. This year has also seen the release of Quinlivan’s memoir,Shalimar: A Story of Place and Migration.
© Erhan Arık