Alison Ballard



Narrating the Barbican

'Narrating the Barbican' merges the fields of audio narration, immersive theatre and relational aesthetics in a promenade performance that moves throughout the foyers and public spaces of the Barbican.

Following the movements of 'a women in a blue dress and half worn-out shoes', her engagement with the Barbican is narrated via the public address system as she walks, listens and plays with the building. In doing so, the Barbican itself is narrated and mapped, forming an alternative documentation of an iconic space.

Audiences were able to experience the work in several ways. Firstly, as a performance, following 'the woman in the blue dress and half worn-out shoes'. Secondarily, as an audio narrative heard throughout the Barbican's foyers via the public address system, like a radio broadcast, without seeing the woman. Or, thirdly, as fleeting moments as she passes by, listening to the narration but only catching glimpses of her physical presence. This approach also allows audiences to join half-way through, using the audio narrative to locate the woman within the space.

Here, in the video adaptation of the piece, the absence of environmental sounds coupled with prolonged close-up views of 'the woman in the blue dress and half worn-out shoes' allows the space to remain largely imagined, creating a cerebral map of the space and its soundscape.

This work was created in residence at the Barbican throughout August 2013 as part of 'Hack the Barbican', London’s biggest ever experiment in cross-disciplinary collaboration, bringing together artists, technologists and entrepreneurs, seeking to explore new boundaries and reinterpret one of the world’s great cultural centres.

More information about Hack the Barbican can be found here:

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© Alison Ballard 2012