Stephen Barber’s books have been acclaimed as ‘brilliant, profound and provocative’ by The Times newspaper in the UK, and he has been called ‘a writer of real distinction’ and ‘the most dangerous man in Europe’ by The Independent newspaper. The Sunday Times newspaper hailed his books as ‘exhilarating and disquieting’. In June 2020, David Peace wrote in the Times Literary Supplement: ‘Beginning in 1993 with Artaud: Blows and Bombs, Stephen Barber has quietly, independently forged one of the most singular and enriching bodies of work in contemporary writing.’
He has been awarded many grants, awards and prizes for his books, by such international bodies as the Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio Program), the Getty Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Huntington Library, the Annenberg Foundation, the Paul Mellon Centre, the Leverhulme Trust, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Nathan Foundation, the Zeit Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the DAAD Programme, the Japan Foundation, the Saison Foundation, the Daiwa Foundation, among many others.
Stephen was born in Leeds, UK. He has a PhD, researched in Paris in 1985-90 and awarded by the University of London, Queen Mary College, in 1990. Over the past thirty-three years, he has been a professor and arts researcher at universities and art schools in many countries, such as the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, Sussex University in Brighton, the Berlin University of the Arts, the IMEC Institute in Paris/Caen, the University of Tokyo and Keio University in Tokyo. From October 2012 to September 2015, and again in the Spring of 2019, he was a Fellow at the Berlin Free University’s International Research Centre in Interweaving Performance Cultures. He is currently a Professor and Research Centre Co-Director at the Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, London. From September 2022 to June 2023, he is a Fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study (HIAS).
From 1990 until 2023, he has written thirty books (twenty-two non-fiction books and eight fiction books). His books are: Antonin Artaud: Blows and Bombs (1993: Faber & Faber UK, Farrar Straus & Giroux USA, Solar/University of Chicago Press USA), Fragments of the European City (1995: Reaktion UK/USA), Weapons of Liberation (1996: Faber & Faber UK, Farrar Straus & Giroux USA), Edmund White: The Burning World (1999: Picador UK, St Martin’s Press USA), Artaud: The Screaming Body: Recordings, Films, Drawings (1999: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), Tokyo Vertigo (2001, new version 2011: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), Extreme Europe (2001: Reaktion UK/USA), Projected Cities (2002: Reaktion UK/USA), Annihilation Zones (2002: Creation UK/USA), Genet: Pages Torn from the Book of Jean Genet (2004: Reaktion UK/USA), The Art of Destruction (2004, new version 2020: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), The Vanishing Map (2006: Bloomsbury UK/USA), Hijikata: Revolt of the Body (2006, new version 2010: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), Tokyo Sodom (2006: Creation UK/USA), Tokyo Slaughterhouse (2007: Creation UK/USA), Tokyo Supernova (2007: Creation UK/USA), Artaud: Terminal Curses (2008: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), The Tokyo Trilogy (compendium edition of his three Tokyo novels: 2008: Creation UK/USA), Cities of Oblivion (2009: Future Fiction USA/UK), Abandoned Images (2010: Reaktion UK/USA), The Walls of Berlin: Urban Surfaces, Art, Film (2011: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), Muybridge: The Eye in Motion (2012: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), England’s Darkness (2012: Sun Vision Press USA/UK), Artaud: The Anatomy of Cruelty (compendium edition of his three books on Artaud’s work: 2013: Sun Vision Press USA), Performance Projections (2014: Reaktion UK/USA), Pierre Guyotat: Revolutions and Aberrations (2016: Vauxhall & Company UK), Berlin Bodies (2017: Reaktion UK/USA), Thatcher’s Tomb (2018: Infinity Land Press UK), White Noise Ballrooms (2018: Diaphanes/University of Chicago Press Switzerland/USA), Film’s Ghosts: Tatsumi Hijikata’s Butoh and the Transmutation of 1960s Japan (2019: Diaphanes/University of Chicago Press Switzerland/USA), The Projectionists: Eadweard Muybridge and the Future Projections of the Moving Image (2020: Diaphanes/University of Chicago Press Switzerland/USA), and The Maledictions (2023: forthcoming).
The Maledictions explores the 1990 UK months between the Poll Tax riots and Margaret Thatcher’s fall, alongside that era’s transformations and upheavals in eastern Europe.
He is currently completing two new books, Into the Wastelands and Wastelanded, during his fellowship at the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study, September 2022-June 2023, for publication in 2024.
Stephen is also the co-author with Jeremy Reed of Caligula: Divine Carnage (2001: Solar/University of Chicago Press UK/USA), the co-editor/co-author with Gail Cunningham of London Eyes (2007: Berghahn UK/USA), the co-editor/co-author with Anna Battista of Pasolini: The Massacre Game (2012: Sun Vision Press USA/UK), and the editor/translator of Artaud 1937 Apocalypse, Artaud’s letters from his catastrophic journey to Ireland in 1937 (2018: Infinity Land Press UK, 2019: Diaphanes/University of Chicago Press Switzerland/USA) and of A Sinister Assassin, Artaud’s last writings and interviews of 1947-48 (2022: Infinity Land Press UK, 2023: Diaphanes/University of Chicago Press Switzerland/USA).
His books have been translated into many languages, such as Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, French, Spanish, Russian and Turkish.
He has also written many essays and articles for magazines, newspapers, essay collections and arts publications worldwide, such as Artforum International, Senses of Cinema, The Guardian, The Observer and The New Yorker. A collection of his essays and short writings from 1990 to 2020 was published in two volumes, in December 2020 and February 2021, by University of Chicago Press (Solar series), with the title: The Residues.
Stephen has travelled very widely for his work and has lived in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, among other cities. He is currently living in Hamburg.