London’s Burning marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London with free spectacular art events at sites across the City, Southbank and Bankside from 30 August to 4 September 2016. The contemporary art and ideas festival explores the momentous event and addresses its contemporary resonance.
Artist Martin Firrell’s Fires of London will light up the south and east sides of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral with a fiery projection echoing both the catastrophic impact of the fire on the cathedral itself and the birth of Christopher Wren’s building. The projection will be visible from across the river, where Firrell’s Fires Modern will be projected onto the flytower of the National Theatre’s iconic Grade II listed building. French fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse will create a Fire Garden, transforming the riverside area in front of Tate Modern into a crackling, spitting, after-dark adventure.
The festival is produced by cutting-edge company Artichoke, who are the brains behind some of the UK’s most talked about large-scale art and theatre events including The Sultan’s Elephant, Anthony Gormley’s One & Other which invited 2,400 ordinary people from across the UK to occupy the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and the extraordinary light festival, Lumiere London earlier this year.
Thee spectacular finale event, London 1666, an extraordinary 120m long sculpture of the 17th-century London skyline will appear on the River Thames and burn, in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire in September 1666. A collaboration between American ‘burn’ artist David Best and Artichoke, the project has involved months of work and participation with local schools and young Londoners.
Helen Marriage Director of Artichoke said: “London’s Burning brings a unique contemporary perspective to the Great Fire, exploring the challenges and issues faced by major world cities today, our relationship to catastrophe and crisis and our ability to adapt, adjust and rebuild. It is an artistic response that addresses the impact of the Great Fire of London on the City, its inhabitants and buildings, and how it emerged from the ashes and evolved to the resilient world city it is today”.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Great Fire of London was one of the most important moments in the history of the capital. The range of fantastic events taking place around its 350th anniversary shows once again that London is open to visitors from around the world.”
Other events include:
Of All The People in All The World, Stan’s Cafe, Inner Temple
From the handful of recorded deaths to the tens of thousands made homeless in 1666, Of All The People in All The World, by Stan’s Cafe will count the cost of the fire in grains of rice comparing historical facts with contemporary moments. Located in the Inner Temple and watched over by the stern portraits of four of the Fire Judges appointed by the King to adjudicate on compensation claims after the Fire, this installation offers a remarkably compelling way to experience the impact of these dramatic events.
Holoscenes, Early Morning Opera, Exchange Square, Broadgate, Exchange Square
Broadgate will see the UK premiere of Holoscenes, a mesmerising six-hour underwater performance installation by US based Early Morning Opera. The piece reminds us that today, it is flooding rather than fire is the contemporary threat in this and many contemporary cities, and one we are ignoring at our peril. Created by artistic director Lars Jan, the piece features individual performers going about mundane daily tasks as water levels rise around them.
Dominoes, Station House Opera, City of London
Dominoes is an extraordinary kinetic sculpture first commissioned by CreateLondon in 2009, Dominoes has since travelled worldwide. This new version, specially created for London’s Burning by artistic director Julian MaynardSmith, will be its most ambitious yet, involving 600 volunteers, 23,000 breeze blocks and a 5.5km run through the city, tracing the path of the Fire through its streets, buildings and public spaces, linking the past with the present in a symbolic and physical chain of cause and effect.