‘A Room for London’ showcases international writers, musicians and artists
Artangel welcome to London leading artists of all disciplines for an extraordinary year of new writings, readings, performance, podcasts and live music webcasts from the capital’s most intimate temporary venue. From Bogotá to Toronto and Cairo, Bamako to Frankfurt, New York to Stockholm, these world-renowned voices will use A Room for London as their studio to reflect on its place in the world in 2012.
Situated on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, A Room for London is a major new collaboration between Artangel and Living Architecture, in association with Southbank Centre. It is a one-bedroom installation, available for rent, designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with Fiona Banner. Taking inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Roi des Belges, the riverboat he captained whilst in the Congo in 1890, Artangel’s guests will embark on different journeys of rediscovery throughout the year. Performed for the first time, Orson Welles’ Heart of Darknessscreenplay will form part of Artangel’s programme this spring in a special presentation by Fiona Banner. Written and completed in 1939, it was to be Welles’ first film. He intended to play both the narrator Charles Marlow and protagonist Kurtz, but the film was never made. The entire screenplay will be performed live to camera by a single actor aboard A Room for London, as a live webcast and projection into the Southbank Centre below, on Saturday 31 March.
Launching A London Address, our series of monthly writings and recordings, is distinguished Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez, best known for his novels The Informers and The Secret History of Costaguana, both of which refer to Joseph Conrad. Jeanette Winterson, whose recent memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? was published to great acclaim in October, will stay in February to record her London Address. The eminent Swedish writer and cultural historian Sven Lindqvist joins us at the end of March, celebrating his 80th birthday whilst in the Room. His work includes The History of Bombing, Desert Divers and Exterminate all the Brutes, influenced by Heart of Darkness and Conrad’s journeys in Africa. The latter two will be reissued by Granta in February. Other writers to take up residency later in the year are Michael Ondaatje (June), the Sri Lankan born Canadian and Booker Prize winning author of The English Patient and most recently The Cat’s Table, and Caryl Phillips (April), prize-winning author of Crossing the River and most recently Colour Me English. All will produce writings to be podcast on A Room for London’s website.
Sounds from a Room, our series of live music webcasts, is launched on Saturday 28 January by Andrew Bird, the Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and lyricist. Following him on Sunday 26 February is Heiner Goebbels, the German composer, who will produce a musical response to Conrad’s Up-River Book, a journal written in 1890, almost 10 years before Heart of Darkness was published. Laurie Anderson, the American visual artist and musician, webcasts from the Room on Sunday 25 March. Other musicians later in the year include the Malian duo Amadou & Mariam (May), celebrated cellist Natalie Clein (August) and Imogen Heap (June), who will be writing and performing a new song while in the Room.
Other special guests include the artist Jeremy Deller (March) and David Byrne, who will be resident in mid-February to produce a new soundwork for podcast. More writers and musicians from springtime onwards will be announced at the beginning of April.
The programme also features Ideas for London, a competition in association with the London Evening Standard, to uncover Londoners’ most remarkable ideas to make their city a better place. The first winners were announced in December and include an idea for a scheme to address London’s 40,000 long-term vacant houses and a proposal to develop ‘at home’ gap years in the capital. Ideas can be submitted at anytime up to 5 September 2012. One winner will be announced each month during 2012. They will be invited to stay overnight in A Room for London, with a dinner provided by Canteen, to develop their idea with a number of influential guests.
The Artangel programme is generously supported by the London 2012 Festival and Arts Council England. It is part of the London 2012 Festival – as the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad this UK-wide festival will feature leading artists from around the world from 21 June – 9 September 2012.