Block Universe Performance art festival

Various venues, London, United Kingdom
18 May 2019 - 02 Jun 2019

"Chimbu et les autres" performed by Paul Maheke, Manifesta 12, Palermo, 2018. Photo Dario di Liberti.

Block Universe, London’s leading performance art festival and international commissioning body, will return to London from 18 May to 2 June 2019, with an expanded 14 day programme of new work, premieres, talks, screenings and workshops, from a wide range of artists, both local and international.

As the festival celebrates its fifth anniversary, Block Universe will also present a sister programme for the first time, expanding to continental Europe. This takes place in Germany at E-WERK Luckenwalde, as part of Berlin Art Week (14 September 2019). E-WERK Luckenwalde is a new Brandenberg institution set to open in 2019 in a former power station, an iconic site near Berlin.

Block Universe 2019, taking place across two countries and marking half a decade of curating and commissioning, will mark the festival’s largest and most diverse programme to date. Projects include a series of premieres from UK and international artists, thinkers and practitioners, which are set to take place across both cities in May and September.

Fittingly for a programme that spans both Europe and the UK in the current political context, Block Universe’s 2019 curatorial theme and expanded programme 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.

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.


Block Universe’s Schedule for London//

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


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 AlserkalTerritorial 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.

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.


Further information for the Berlin programme will be released in June 2019.
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