Block Universe is that rare kind of arts platform. Created to support a medium that currently doesn’t have a dedicated institution, it seeks to introduce this relatively young art form to a wider audience and support innovative UK-based and international artists working in performance.
As with previous editions, this year’s festival will take on a theme. Unsurprisingly, the turbulence and hostility surrounding Brexit seems to have influenced the focus.
‘This year, the festival will explore themes that act as a counterpoint to current divisiveness created by contemporary politics, focusing on and at the same time questioning utopian ideals of community and collectivity,’ the festival’s director, Louise O’Kelly, explains.
‘Addressing the ways that we relate to one another, this edition will respond both to the larger fabric of society that binds us and the politics of sex and love in our personal relationships.’
Block Universe showcases a range of artistic practices that each approach performance from a different perspective, incorporating aspects of visual art, dance and music. Many arts institutions and organisations throughout the city, including Royal Academy of Arts, The Store X, British Museum, Somerset House, Studio Voltaire, and Brunel Museum will play host to the festival.
For the fourth edition, there are seven new, site-specific commissions by artists including Hanne Lippard, Alex Mirutziu, Last Yearz Interesting Negro/Jamila Johnson-Small, and They Are Here, as well as three UK premieres by Maria Hassabi and Giselle Stanborough. The diverse performances will be accompanied by an expanded Public Programme that will present screenings, participatory workshops and talks with industry professionals.
Here are our highlights of the 2018 edition.
Celebrated and cutting-edge New York-based artist and choreographer Maria Hassabi has created a distinct practice that employs slowness as a choreographic trope in her live installations. Creating a new iteration of STAGING (2017), which was performed at Documenta 14, a single performer will move across an electric pink carpet in The Store X at a measured, almost imperceptible, rate. Hassabi will also be doing a talk with Tate curator Catherine Wood on May 24 and a workshop at Siobhan Davies Dance between 2pm and 4pm on Monday May 28.
Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27 at The Store X, 180 The Strand between 11am-7pm. Free, no booking necessary.
Evan Ifekoya & Victoria Sin
In the historic Thames Tunnel, Evan Ifekoya & Victoria Sin will debut their performative reading of No Fantasy without Desire, No Destiny without a Daddy (2018). The work, a science-fiction script that proposes a new sociopolitical system, was written after extensive research at The Huntington and One LGBT Archives in Los Angeles.
Tuesday May 29 at 7pm at The Brunel Museum, Thames Tunnel. £7-10. Purchase tickets here.
Georgieva transforms the Oval Space with a multimedia installation in which she will use her own body and voice to explore the relationship between folk culture and neoliberal individualism.
Monday May 28, Oval Space, 7pm (doors 6.30pm). £8-12. Purchase tickets here.
Wilson’s new, durational site-specific performance, You would almost expect to find it warm (2018) draws on the similarities between Auguste Rodin’s sculptures and the Parthenon. Co-commissioned by Block Universe and Franck Bordese, the work incorporates dance and the slightly unusual element of fresh dough to reflect on how history evolves through material and craftsmanship.
Friday June 1 at British Museum between 4-8pm. Free, no booking necessary.
Inside Europe’s oldest operating theatre, which dates from 1822, the Amsterdam-based artist Nora Turato will make her UK debut with a spoken word piece (leaning is the new sitting (2018)) that melds performance art and contemporary music together.
Saturday May 26 at Old Operating Theatre, 7pm (doors 6.30pm) £7-10. Purchase tickets here.
Block Universe will take places in various venues across London between May 26 to June 3, 2018. Some events require booking, please check the Block Universe website for details.