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The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Art (CIRCA) in London commissions new ideas from emerging and established artists.

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PATTI SMITH

1-31 January, CIRCA 2021

Patti Smith (born 1946) lives and works in New York City. She is a singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist, known for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. In 1971, her first poetry reading at St Mark’s Church would go on to influence her debut album, Horses, which has since been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Her books include Just Kids, winner of the National Book Award in 2010, Wītt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

The punk poet laureate’s CIRCA 2021 commission marked the 50th anniversary of her first poetry recital at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery on 10 February 1971. Each evening, she recited a set of new poems on the iconic Piccadilly Lights with words of “Thanksgiving”, says Smith, as well as a personal poem dedicated to Greta Thunberg on her 18th Birthday, 3 January 2021. Smith’s month-long programme conveyed a story of optimism along with calls for radical action, in the face of social and environmental breakdown, coinciding with the end of the Donald Trump’s presidency and ‘A New Year’ after the catastrophes witnessed in 2020.