London’s Nocturnal Creatures arts festival is back for 2021


This year’s Nocturnal Creatures arts festival will transform Whitechapel Gallery and nearby spaces with installations, films, live performances, music & food experiences for one night only. There’s so much going on for Nocturnal Creatures this year, you’ll have to choose a handful of best bits outlined below.

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Inês Neto dos Santos blends food with art and design.

For one, Inês Neto dos Santos explores how we can live in greater connection with our surroundings and others through a bean-growing network, a food offer with the Gallery’s Townsend Restaurant and a bean-themed bar with views over East London.

She is a chef and artist, always blending the two when creating experiences like this. Her practice moves between performance, installation, and social sculpture, investigating the socio-political implications of what we eat and how we come to eat it. Food and art lovers can rejoice!

Then move on to awaken your senses through the hypnotic twisting and knotting movements of dancers in Candida Powell-Williams’ performance, set in the open spaces of Aldgate Square. Take some drinks with you, sit on the lawns, and watch some spectacular dancing.

You’ve got movement and sound by performers on screen and in real-life in Nicole Bachmann’s work, which explores connectedness and alternative forms of communication. This takes place within Toynbee Hall’s historic Lecture Hall.

Through video, live music and spoken word at Whitechapel Gallery, Julianknxx examines how the act of breathing is politically and socially charged in 2021, calling for new structures and realities for black people to breathe, freely.

Reflecting on the housing crisis and precarious working conditions, Paula Morison sews a 1:1 scale map of a flat for the length of time it would take to buy a space of that size while earning London Living Wage.

Meanwhile, Abbas Zahedi proposes a social space for the local community where audiences will be invited to reflect on the potential future use of the old Brick Lane Police Station and the surrounding area.

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These six emerging, London-based artists’ commissions also form part of The London Open 2022, a triennial, open submission exhibition scheduled for summer 2022. Nocturnal Creatures is giving us a small taste of what’s to come next year.

But that’s not all on offer during the night. Whitechapel Gallery’s programme for Nocturnal Creatures is accompanied by a host of additional projects presented in association with Artsadmin and Sculpture in the City.

Artsadmin is hosting The Apocalypse Reading Room curated by artist Ama Josephine Budge. This is an installation of books that imagine alternative futures, to be accompanied by a sound and video installation by Umama Hamido reflecting on the 2019 October Revolution in Lebanon. Then there’s Niqabi Ninja by Sara Shaarawi. It’s an outdoor audio walk about a Cairene vigilante’s reaction to seemingly inescapable male violence, both as part of Shubbak festival of contemporary Arab culture.

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Find Sculpture in the City’s art installations in all kinds of places. Photo of Isabella Martin’s Landscape

Sculpture in the City will be presenting Oliver Bragg’s From Seed to Sculpture, Laura Arminda Kingsley’s Murmurs of the Deep and Almuth Tebbenhoff’s A collective Meditation, plus performances by Isabella Martin and Rosanne Robertson. Walk around the Sculpture in the City installations at night and see how they are brought to life with immersive events.

London’s one-night-only arts festival is going to be huge. Let’s just pray for good weather. That way we can experience as much of Nocturnal Creates as we can. And, to offer maximum flexibility and peace of mind to visitors, both pre-bookable and walk-in tickets are available via Eventbrite from 1 July. So don’t worry if it all has to be cancelled.

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