The Barbican Archive Mixtape
This year the Barbican Estate is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of its first residents. On June 15th you’ll have the chance, from the comfort of a Barbican cinema seat to take a cut-and-paste journey through the Barbican, seen through the eyes of artists, filmmakers and television.
Depicted as stark, unforgiving, innercity-living by documentary makers in its early days, the Barbican was then a far cry from today’s Barbican Estate, favoured for James Bond locations, music videos and fashion shoots. Can we ever look at Frobisher Court in the same light since it was the entrance to MI6 in Quantum of Solace?
Looking back to look forward, it’s hard to grasp just how much has changed in the way we consume information and imagery and how that informs decisions we subconsciously make about people and places. As those first residents collected their keys, decades before the internet, TV was a simple matter, it was either the BBC or the one with adverts and the class divide was alive and kicking. Dennis Waterman and George Cole hit our screens carousing around London in the Minder Jag or for the more genteel crowd there was a new programme called Antiques Road Show.
The Barbican Archive Mixtape charts the life of the estate and includes, in full, two rare TV documentaries showing different aspects of Barbican life: the first, a World in Action special from 1967 entitled The Militants follows the Barbican construction workers as they organise against their employers in a historic strike that became known as ‘The Battle of the Barbican’.
This is paired with an episode of London Weekend Televisions’ South of Watford. Filmed over twenty years later in 1988, this shows a much more upbeat, playful portrait of the estate featuring interviews with the residents, the staff and the Barbican Arts centre performers.
‘The Barbican Archive Mixtape is part of the Barbican Archive project; ‘From the history and construction to programme and design, we are developing an archive to tell the story of the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama’
Images Copyright of Barbican Archive