Station To Station Review: A 30 Day Cultural Explosion At Barbican

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 28 months ago
Station To Station Review: A 30 Day Cultural Explosion At Barbican ★★★★★ 5
The lead image of the exhibition showing Olaf Breuning's  coloured smoke being released. Photo © Brian Doyle. Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York
The lead image of the exhibition showing Olaf Breuning's coloured smoke being released. Photo © Brian Doyle. Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York
Cameras at the ready - here is the coloured smoke in action. But be quick, it only lasts about a minute. Photo Tabish Khan.
Cameras at the ready - here is the coloured smoke in action. But be quick, it only lasts about a minute. Photo Tabish Khan.
The entertaining Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, playing on the Lakeside terrace. Photo Tabish Khan
The entertaining Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, playing on the Lakeside terrace. Photo Tabish Khan
A womb like yurt with soft and flexible walls and supports. Photo Tabish Khan
A womb like yurt with soft and flexible walls and supports. Photo Tabish Khan
A functioning woodblock printing studio will be operating inside the gallery and prints will be available to buy.
A functioning woodblock printing studio will be operating inside the gallery and prints will be available to buy.
Cactus omelettes made to artist Ed Ruscha's recipe will be available to taste every Saturday at 1pm on a first come first served basis. Photo © Ye Rin Mok
Cactus omelettes made to artist Ed Ruscha's recipe will be available to taste every Saturday at 1pm on a first come first served basis. Photo © Ye Rin Mok

Londonist Rating: ★★★★★

Artist Doug Aitken has taken over one of London's premier cultural venues and for a month it will be transformed with a culture overload that ensures no two visits are the same and there'll never be a dull moment. It brings together art, theatre, dance, music, film, talks and much more — while some of these events are ticketed, most are completely free so you can just turn up and enjoy.

Outside on the Lakeside terrace we witnessed coloured smoke being released across the Barbican and there is also a black and a yellow yurt to explore. One required us to take off our shoes and explore the soft womb-like interior as the light from outside fills it with a yellow haze. The other forces visitors to navigate a maze of cloth in the darkness, arriving at the artist in the centre who gives a five minute narration from the big bang to today. She speaks so quickly that it's hard to take it all in and most people will emerge back into the sunlight feeling a little dazed; this is a nice touch as the performance itself is asking people to look upon the world anew.

The art gallery has been transformed into a mixture of video work, live music sessions and a wood block printing studio, and these activities will also vary from day to day. Downstairs in the Curve gallery is an eerie and atmospheric installation that makes great use of the unique space, reminding us of a previous exhibition held here.

All of the above and we haven't even mentioned the brilliant Rajasthan heritage band who performed on the terrace — this was all in the space of two hours!

This is a massively ambitious month long project. We loved most of what we saw and even the acts that didn't chime with us were easily ignored because the sheer diversity of options available meant there was always something to keep us engaged and entertained.

Some of the works are permanent while others operate on a schedule — our best advice is pick a timed event that you may enjoy, dive in and then go on to explore all the permanent events afterwards. Station to Station is overwhelming, exciting and brilliant!

Station to Station — A 30 Day Happening: A project by Doug Aitken is on at Barbican until 26 July. Many events are free, but tickets are required for some — see the full listings before you visit. For related art see Doug Aitken's work at Victoria Miro.

Also be sure to check out our top openings for July, the Paddington public art trail, the Hepworth blockbuster at Tate Britain, the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition and June's most talked about art exhibitions.

Last Updated 28 June 2015