April 24, 2019 - Block Universe - Block Universe
April 24, 2019

Block Universe

Courtesy Block Universe.

Block Universe
Performance art festival and international commissioning body
May 18–June 2, 2019

Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / #blockuniverse2019

Block Universe 2019, this year taking place across three major locations for contemporary art and marking half a decade of curating and commissioning, is the organisation’s largest and most diverse programme of work to date. Now established as London’s leading performance art festival and international commissioning body, Block Universe will return to the capital from May 18 to June 2, 2019, with an expanded 14-day programme of new work, premieres, talks, screenings and workshops, from a wide range of artists, both UK based and international. As the festival celebrates its fifth anniversary, Block Universe will also present further programmes beyond the UK  for the first time, expanding to continental Europe. With major events also taking place in Italy and Germany, the festival will curate a programme of performances as part of the inaugural opening of E-WERK Luckenwalde, during Berlin Art Week (September 14, 2019). E-WERK Luckenwalde is a new Brandenberg institution set to open in 2019 in a former power station, near Berlin. A third element of Block Universe’s anniversary programme will be the premiere of a new work at the opening of the 58th Venice Biennale (May 8–10), further progressing a new chapter of international vision and expansion.

Fittingly for a programme that spans both continental Europe and the UK in the current political context, Block Universe 2019, co-curated by Louise O’Kelly and Katharina Worf, explores the concept of internal and external "world-making" by looking at the diverse environments we create for ourselves to exist within, whether those be mental, physical or virtual spaces. Touching upon the ecological, geographic, political and spiritual, this year’s edition takes a holistic approach towards our understanding of the human experience.

The London projects and performances will take place once again across a series of London’s major institutions and other unique city-wide locations. Block Universe will work with Tate to deliver a "Post-dance" conference, with the Imperial War Museum London to activate their Roof Terrace with an ongoing action for the course of a week, and the Albany to present a futuristic opera, the final stop in a national tour. Further events will take place at the The Live Art Development Agency (LADA), Whitechapel Gallery, Goldsmiths University and The Swiss Church, amongst others. Cork Street Galleries will act as a festival hub and host an installation, the first time Block Universe will bring an exhibition to the UK for the full two weeks of the festival. Projects will come from artists, academics, writers, performers and producers including: Ravioli Me Away, Michael Portnoy & Claire Bishop, Paul Maheke & Nkisi, Sophie Jung, and Alexandra Pirici, amongst others.

For Block Universe’s inaugural programme at the 58th Venice Biennale, a newly created, roaming, performative work by Lithuanian artist Indrė Šerpytytė will be presented in partnership with Dubai-based Alserkal. Territorial Symphonies explores inclusion and exclusion in the biennale, one of the most prominent moments in the international arts calendar. The artist will create a live artwork, in which a brass band will play the national anthems of the countries that lie beyond the Giardini, forming a continuous fanfare to the missing and absent. Over 60 national anthems will be played by the band as they move around Venice, representing countries from Cyprus to Peru, China to Mexico, and New Zealand to Zimbabwe.

The programme for Germany will mark the first edition of POWER NIGHT, which Block Universe presents in partnership with E-WERK Luckenwalde. Thematic concerns will unite Block Universe’s theme with the E-WERK’s curatorial concept of utopia, energy, autonomy and production. Block Universe will present an inaugural live programme by artists, including Fernanda Muñoz-Newsome, Rowdy SS and Nina Beier, with further artists to be announced in the summer. Works for POWER NIGHT will take place in locations including the 1928 Bauhaus swimming pool, designed by Hans Hertlein and the large scale 350sqm Turbine Hall at E-WERK. POWER NIGHT will launch the new space, which will feature a year round contemporary art programme.

“We are thrilled to present our largest and most ambitious programme in London, along with new elements of our programme in Europe, as we mark half a decade of commissioning and curating. The festival was established in the context of an open, democratic European city, and we are committed to upholding this legacy by continuing to engage in artistic dialogue across borders.

This edition of Block Universe provides an opportunity to reflect upon the achievements of the last few years in acting as a launch pad and platform for a new generation of artists, as well as promoting a new appreciation for and understanding of performance.

We are honoured to be able to continue to collaborate with some of the most visionary artists working today, and to partner with a range of major institutions and unique spaces, building on our successes of the last four editions. This year we will showcase ambitious new commissions, site-specific installations and premieres but also expand our remit to present works both regionally and internationally.

Block Universe look forward to sharing many more unforgettable ideas, conversations and performances in this new international facing chapter of our future.”

Block Universe Team: Louise O’Kelly, Katharina Worf, Tatjana Damm and Xica Aires


Venice performance dates:
Wednesday, May 8: 3–5pm in front of the Giardini entrance or nearby
Thursday, May 9: 10:30–11:30am in front of the Navy Officers Club and 3-5pm on a boat going through the Giardini Canal
Friday, May 10: 3–5pm in front of the Giardini exit

Territorial Symphonies is a new commission by Indrė Šerpytytė, produced by Block Universe. The commission is presented in partnership with Dubai-based Alserkal, with the additional support of the Lithuanian Culture Institute and the High Commission of Cyprus, UK.

Block Universe’s London festival takes place from May 18–June 2. Tickets are now on sale.


May 18
Words that we share: Performance as Poetry at the Whitechapel Gallery

May 19-June 2
Sophie Jung (Switzerland/Luxembourg/UK) at Cork Street Galleries
Film screenings in partnership with Film & Video Umbrella, Cork Street Galleries

May 20
Panel discussion: "Edge of an Era - 1980s Performance Art and Now" at LADA

May 22-28
Alexandra Pirici (Romania) at Imperial War Museum London

May 23
"Symposium: Performance of the self in digital space" at Goldsmiths, University of London

May 24
Michael Portnoy (USA) & Claire Bishop (UK/USA) at The Swiss Church

May 26
"Post Dance Conference" at Tate Modern
Caj Collab at Tate Modern

May 30-31
Paul Maheke (France) and Melika Ngombe Kolongo (Nkisi) (Belgium) at Hoxton Hall

June 1
Ravioli Me Away (UK) at The Albany

Further information for the Berlin programme will be released in June 2019.
For media requests and high res images please contact: 
nicolajeffspr [​at​] gmail.com

Follow and tag @blockuniverse on Instagram and Twitter.

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