Chris Heasman talks you through the highlights of the UK's largest contemporary art festival
Every two years, Liverpool plays host to the UK's largest contemporary art festival: the Liverpool Biennial. It's a coming together of some of the world's best artists, from as far away as Asia and Africa, and as near to home as Liverpool itself. It lasts for two weeks (14 July – 28 October), and, during that time, there are a whole host of incredible artworks, events and experiences to get stuck into. Here are some of the best...
The List is a piece created by Banu Cennetoğlu, a Turkish artist who seeks to explore the ways our society and culture disseminates knowledge and information, turning it into collective memory and ideology. It's a list of the names of more than 34,000 refugees and migrants who have died within or near Europe's borders since 1993. Cennetoğlu has taken The List to other cities in the past, presenting it via public spaces such as billboards and newspapers. For the Biennial, it will be presented in full at Great George Street, with copies also available at exhibition venues across the city.
St. George’s Hall’s Tiled Floor
The Minton tiled floor which sprawls across St. George's Hall's concert room is one of the world's finest and largest mosaic floors. Despite being installed in 1852, it has been covered up for most of its history - until now. Between the 3rd and 12th August, visitors to the hall will be able to view the entire floor as it was first meant to be seen. They will be part of a very, very lucky few.
Time Moves Quickly
Ryan Gander is a Chester-born, London-based artist who, for his Biennial installation, has brought in some unlikely collaborators. His piece, Time Moves Quickly, is a joint effort between Gander and five children from Knotty Ash Primary School. They’ve created a series of artworks plus a short film (on presentation at the Bluecoat) as well as five "bench-like sculptures", available to view behind the Metropolitan Cathedral. These were created by Gander dissecting a model of the cathedral into building blocks, which were then rebuilt by the children. Talk about a team effort.
Do Not Open It
This is one of a handful of artworks created for this year's Biennial by Shanghai-based visual artist Lu Pingyuan. The premise is simple, yet brilliant: a door has suddenly appeared in the wall of the Cains Brewery, over on Stanhope Street. It is marked "Do Not Open It." Although the door itself is locked, the other side of it can be found inside a gallery at Manchester's Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art. The intention is for the door to act as a symbolic portal between Liverpool and Manchester; and, in a sense, between those two cities and China itself.
The Works of Agnès Varda
Agnès Varda isn't just one of the icons of New Wave filmmaking, a legend in her field and the recipient of an Academy Award nomination - she's also one of this Biennial's most exciting artists. FACT have commissioned a three-channel video installation called 3 moving images. 3 rhythms. 3 sounds. She is also presenting Ulysse, her 1982 film, and a photographic installation by the name of 5 reveurs. The FACT Picturehouse will also be screening Varda's works weekly, as well as a line-up of films curated by Varda herself.
The Sculptural Signature Facial
If all this fancy art nonsense is getting a bit too high-stress for you, why not kick back with a facial spa treatment offered by the Russian artist Taus Makacheva? For only £25, you can enjoy a half-hour session - including deep cleaning and plastifying mask - during which a team of performers will regale you with stories of artworks throughout history which have disappeared and, for one reason or another, remain missing to this day. It’s the perfect chaser for anyone who’s a fan of beauty treatments, visual arts and storytelling. Heck of a Venn diagram, that. Book now.
George Osodi is a photojournalist and artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Over the course of his career, he's covered the reigns of monarchs, the destruction of the natural environment and human rights abuses in his home country. His exhibition at the Biennial, on display at the Open Eye Gallery, is Nigerian Monarchs: a series of photographs depicting the rulers of Nigeria. It's a colourful celebration of ethnic diversity and Nigerian culture, as well as a comment on the impact of European colonialism.
Resilience Garden is a relaxation area and garden in Toxteth created for the Biennial by Mohama Bourouissa, in collaboration with a number of local gardeners, school pupils, teachers and artists. Inspired by a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Algeria, the garden is filled with healing plants native to Algeria and is meant to be a largely therapeutic place which champions the benefits of mental tranquility and resilience. Over in the city centre, the FACT Picturehouse are also screening a film about the creation and development of the garden.
Liverpool Biennial 2018
Liverpool Biennial is the UK biennial of contemporary art. Taking place every two years across the city in public spaces, galleries, museums and online, the Biennial commissions international artists to make and present work in the context of Liverpool.
Liverpool Biennial 2018 runs from 14 July – 28 October and celebrates 20 years of presenting international art in the city and region. The 10th edition, titled Beautiful world, where are you?invites artists and audiences to reflect on a world in social, political and economic turmoil.
Liverpool Biennial is underpinned by a programme of research, education, residencies and commissions. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned over 340 new artworks and presented work by more than 480 artists from around the world.