Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer at the Barbican

Published: 8 August 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Michael Clark, Because We Must, 1987 Credit: Richard Haughton

This autumn, Barbican Art Gallery stages the first major exhibition on dancer and choreographer Michael Clark.

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer features portraits of Clark through the eyes of collaborators and artists including Charles Atlas, BodyMap, Leigh Bowery, Duncan Campbell, Peter Doig, Cerith Wyn Evans, Sarah Lucas, Silke Otto-Knapp, Elizabeth Peyton, The Fall and Wolfgang Tillmans.

2020 marks the 15th year of Michael Clark Company’s collaboration with the Barbican as an Artistic Associate. This exhibition presents a comprehensive story of Clark’s career to date and development as a pioneer of contemporary dance. Films, sculptures, paintings and photographs by his collaborators across visual art, music and fashion are exhibited alongside rare archival material.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said, “we’re thrilled to be sharing this rare opportunity for audiences to get to know the inspirational work of one of the UK’s most influential choreographers and performers, Michael Clark. Michael Clark Company has been our Artistic Associate since 2005 and this exhibition celebrates the richness of Clark’s provocative and electrifying presence in our cultural landscape and explores how art, film, music and fashion have been integral to his work.”

The exhibition also showcases a large selection of archival film documentation, focusing on Clark’s work with filmmakers (Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman), fashion designers (Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Gucci) and musicians (Scritti Politti, Laibach, Bruce Gilbert from Wire). The archive also displays a selection of interviews with Clark, as well as the documentary The Late Michael Clark (2001) by filmmaker Sophie Fiennes and the recent BBC recording of Clark’s to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll . . . song. (2016) set to the music of Erik Satie, Patti Smith and David Bowie.