This page will be continually updated and feature my favourite images, exhibits and artwork from this years Liverpool Biennial which runs from the 15th september to the 25th November 2012.
For 10 weeks every two years, Liverpool transforms into a treasure chest of art, exhibitions and creative events at various venues across the city. It is recognised as the largest international contemporary arts festival in the UK.
Now in its 7th year since 1999, this years Biennial has the theme of ‘hospitality’ and includes The Unexpected Guest, an exhibition of specially commissioned and pre-existing work across the city; The John Moores Painting Prize; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, City States and the Sky Arts Ignition Series/Tate Liverpool commission by Doug Aitken.
More information can be found on the main Biennial website at: http://liverpoolbiennial.co.uk/about/aboutus/
The Source – Doug Aitken
In Aiken’s first UK public realm installation, he poses the question ‘what is the source of a creative idea’ to a number of iconic cultural figures including Beck, Jack White, Tilda Swinton and architect David Adjaye – who also designed the pavilion.
The experience is initially quite disorientating as the matt black pavilion is broken down into orange-like segments, each showing a video of a different artist. Half the fun as you enter is trying to work out who some of the lesser known interviewees are and what the topic being discussed is all about as you join mid conversation. Once you are acclimatised to the light levels and mixed sounds of the pavilion however, and have worked out the optimum listening position, it does become an addictive place to stay and spend some time – probably around 40 minutes in my case. Im not sure what the central seat in the pavilion is for, since staying here too long would likely cause a sensory overload, unless that was Aitken’s point. My favourite moment has to be the synchronising of videos and the hypnotic sounds in-between introducing the next interviews, which in a strange way seems to bring all the visitors in the pavilion out of their own private trances, allow a little bit of movement between segments before it starts all over again.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries & City Scapes – LJMU Cooperas Hill
As you walk into Cooperas Hill, you don’t really have much of an appreciation for just how large and vast this sorting office actually was / is. The exhibitions are spread across two floors which asides from the omission of Royal Mail vans, staff and assumed machinery, have largely been left untouched – almost to an eerily effect (staff notices still advertising the upcoming Christmas party and warning staff not to hang their coats on machinery still exist).
The exhibitions themselves are interesting including some noteworthy pieces and it would be easy to spend a few hours digesting everything there. As an architect though, I just found the building way too distracting to fully appreciate the artwork (in a good way) and as such, I kept being distracted by some of the original building features.
The Unexpected Guest – The Cunnard Building
For this years Biennial, the main booking / waiting hall and various side offices in the Cunnard Building have been transformed into temporary exhibition spaces. In addition to the artwork on display, access into this historical landmark building is a treat in itself. The spaces are of course grand and opulent in design, but clearly have been vacant and at a loss for some time. This feeling of emptiness has been picked up superbly by artists Superflex and their piece, ‘Liverpool to Let’ which suspends from the ceiling.
Other exhibits follow on the theme of ‘The Unexpected Guest’ and hospitality and are well worth a look.
Oded Hirsch ‘The Lift’ – Liverpool One
Meant to represent a lift bursting through the pavement of Liverpool One (suggesting a subterranean realm), this installation unfortunately looks staged, unrealistic and oddly fake. Perhaps the pavement should have been removed more to reveal this underground world we are supposed to believe in. The perimeter railings also unfortunately spoil the visual aesthetic which I suspect the artist was unhappy about.