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Arts Weeks 2020

Arts Weeks 2020: Online (18 May - 19 June)

Week One: 18 May

WEEK TWO: 25 May

  • We See You Now
    Artist and writer Alinah Azadeh invites you to the edge of a cliff in 2053. Listen to a future myth rooted in our migrant heritage and shifting relationship to land, sea, borders - and time.
  • The Secret Life Of...Silke Arnold-de Simine
    Take a break with Silke Arnold-de Simine, and a story of colonialism, sexuality and storage centred on Camp Coffee.
  • The Body Lies: In conversation with novelist Jo Baker
    Watch novelist Jo Baker and playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville talk about her latest book, The Body Lies: 'a propulsive #MeToo thriller' (The Guardian).
  • Birkbeck Writers Read: Toby Litt
    Toby Litt reads a page from his novel Patience, and talks about its indebtedness to the animal poems of the great Australian poet Les Murray. 
  • NB: by Hester Chillingworth
    NB: is a performative text work about the radical potentials of plurality, shifting, and occupying multiple spaces. The text will start its life online and will gradually transition out into the real world, to exist and move amongst us. Supported by BiGS (Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality).
  • Jarman Lab Scrapbook Pages
    Discover how the 'dark art’ of advertising inspired Bartek Dziadosz's film Nothing Exists Until You Sell It (2019) in the second Jarman Lab Scrapbook of Arts Weeks.
  • A Week in the Life: Marina Warner
    The second of our culture diaries, from Birkbeck's Marina Warner (English, Theatre & Creative Writing).  
  • From the Arts Week Archives
    A podcast gem from previous Arts Weeks: hear Max Porter discuss his critically acclaimed book Grief Is The Thing With Feathers (Faber & Faber, 2016) with Birkbeck academic and novelist Mark Blacklock, and listen to Mark read from his latest novel, Hinton (Granta, April 2020) which explores the strange worlds of pioneer of the fourth dimension, Howard Hinton.

WEEK Three: 1 June

  • The Secret Life Of...Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra
    Watch Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra's fascinating exploration of the performative artist books created by Polish-Mexican artist Marcos Kurtycz (1934-1996).
  • Upstaging Ireland: The Theatre of Flann O'Brien
    In readings and discussion, Joe Brooker, Toby Harris and reader Hugh Wilde bring to life Flann O'Brien's little-known contributions to theatre.
  • Yeh Freedom Life (2019)
    Priya Sen's debut documentary feature film Yeh Freedom Life (2019) thoughtfully explores uncertain love in Delhi. Learn about the film and its making in this podcast discussion between the director and Birkbeck geographer and teacher on the MA/MSc Cities, Melissa Butcher (spoiler alert).
  • A Week in the Life: Keith Jarrett
    The third of our culture diaries, from Keith Jarrett, writer, performer, educator and Birkbeck PhD alumnus.
  • Jarman Lab Scrapbook PagesEnjoy an expedition to the past with this extraordinary short film about the now-closed Bakelite Museum, one of the numerous 'micromuseums' explored by Birkbeck's Fiona Candlin.
  • The Mendfulness Clinic
    Read Louise Wilcox, creator of this week's sold-out performance The Mendfulness Clinic, on gendered values in performance-making. This beautiful text accompanied Crimson Wave—Craft the Resistance (Camden People's Theatre, 2018).
  • Birkbeck Writers Read: Anthony Joseph
    Listen to Anthony Joseph, poet, novelist, academic and musician read selections from his latest novel, The Frequency of Magic (Peepal Tree) and download a taster chapter.
  • From the Arts Week Archives
    A podcast gem from previous Arts Weeks: Will 2017 be 1984? A brilliant discussion of Orwell's fictional dystopia with specialists in media history, literature and politics from Birkbeck and beyond.
  • Bloomscape
    Share a photograph of Bloomsbury with us via Instagram, to make a magnificent Bloomscape - a digital photo-map to be presented online at the end of Arts Weeks 2020.


  • The Secret Life Of...Lina Džuverović
    Lina Džuverović explores 'Days of Pride and Sorrow' (1980), a compelling series of images of everyday life taken by Yugoslav photographer Goranka Matić in the aftermath of the death of Tito.
  • Scratch Night
    Scratch Night goes online: a rich collection of new short-form sound and video works from students in Birkbeck's School of Arts, encompassing terrific solo pieces, poetry, rehearsed readings, adaptations, and audio performances.
  • Creative Writing Wonder Women
    Introduced by Kit de Waal, this event showcases four wonder women Abi Daré, Louise Hare, Golnoosh Nour and Jac Shreeves-Lee - all alumni of Birkbeck - whose relevant new work ranges between Iran, Nigeria, Windrush Britain, and Tottenham's Broadwater Farm.
  • Jarman Lab Scrapbook PagesRaymond Williams' Keywords (1976) is alive and influential today. Robyn Jakeman tells the story of how it came to be written and updated in this week's contribution to our regular Scrapbook feature from Birkbeck's Derek Jarman Lab.
  • Theatre Blogging
    Writer Megan Vaughan discovered theatre blogging just as playwright David Eldridge was giving it up for good. Here, over a week-long email dialogue, they come together to reflect on their changing practices, and to discuss the pasts, presents and futures of writing about theatre on the internet. Plus read an exclusive excerpt from Megan's latest book.
  • A Week in the Life: Akane Kawakami
    The fourth of our culture diaries, from Birkbeck's Akane Kawakami (Cultures and Languages). 
  • Circus of Books
    Film-maker Rachel Mason tells writer and Birkbeck alumnus Pablo Mendez Shiff about her 2019 Netflix documentary on her parents and their adult bookstore in Los Angeles.
  • From the Arts Week Archives
    Read Anna Hartnell's thinking on America's crisis now and listen to her with Grace Halden in their prescient podcast America in Crisis (2017).

Week five: 15 June

  • Love in the Time of Corona 
    An archival, memory-based work, Love in the Time of Corona investigates ageing, death, decay, deterioration, disease, and trying to find equanimity during troubled times... Shabnam Shabazi offers a video work and a live one-to-one virtual encounter at home - an intimate, unrepeatable moment after 94 days of solitude and isolation.
  • Global Staffroom: COVID and Care
    In this live podcast by Manual Labours on Monday 15 June, 12pm, join artist and adult care worker Fauve Alice, artist Sheila Ghelani, PhD student Sara Paiola and Professors Lynne Segal and Rosie Cox (Birkbeck) to discuss the ethics and politics of caring as paid, unpaid, formal and informal work. Supported by Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality.
  • Asylum Monologues
    Hosted live on Monday 15 June, ice&fire's powerful documentary theatre piece shares first-hand experiences of the asylum process in the UK. Post-show, Birkbeck’s Agnes Woolley and Nadine El-Enany discuss the issues it raises. Supported by Birkbeck Centre for Research on Race and Law.
  • An Earthworm does a Turn
    How might we tell the story of the Anthropocene: the geological age of humans? Watch the evolution of Bruno Roubicek’s idea, from digging in the sand on Newhaven beach in 1964, to his performance as an Earthworm in Nicole Genovese’s Hélas (Théâtre de la Tempête, Paris, 2020).
  • The Secret Life of...
    Luisa Calè asks what it means that William Blake's 'Pestilence' looks us in the eye.
  • Surviving Plague
    Birkbeck’s John Henderson talks us through an extraordinary image of the last plague in Florence.
  • BBK Writers Read
    Download your own copy of Together/Apart: Poetry at Birkbeck - a pandemic poetry project produced for Arts Week by Birkbeck poet Steve Willey and brilliant Birkbeck students Matt Bates, Megan Massey and Dana Alice Niamh.
  • The Mendfulness Clinic
    Read Birkbeck’s Carolyn Burdett on being mendful and memoryful with Louise Wilcox’s The Mendfulness Clinic.
  • Sociable Objects
    Hear about the books and feelings of three amazing early women readers. Birkbeck Phd Matt Clancy, Eva Lauenstein and Lou Horton show how women used books to shape their worlds.
  • A Week in the Life: Scott Rogers
    The fifth of our culture diaries, from Birkbeck’s Scott Rodgers (Film, Media & Cultural Studies).
  • Staff Selections
    To play out Arts Weeks 2020: Online, admin staff across the School of Arts share their top tunes of lockdown. Take a break with sounds to move and inspire.
  • From the Arts Week Archive
    In this week’s archive podcast from 2015, Birkbeck’s Lynda Nead and others discuss the nature and value of thinking with photographs.