Liverpool Biennial 2016
July has welcomed the 9th Liverpool Biennial, this year split into six episodes; Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback – all draw on Liverpool’s past, present and future.
On one of the hottest days of the year I had the pleasure of exploring a few of the venues in all their splendour. I started off my tour at this years Visitor Hub, Cain’s Brewery.
There’s something quite fascinating about an unused space that is now full of artwork. Sculptures litter the main hall, catching a glimpse of Oliver Laric’s Sleeping Shepherd Boy hidden in a corridor was an unexpected surprise.
The centre of the hall is dominated by Andreas Angelidakis’s, Collider, this divides the space into different episodes. As I was leaving the Brewery I noticed Lu Pingyuan’s Do Not Open It, a door set into a brick wall. The door claims to be a portal between Liverpool and Manchester (of course I did to try to open it!).
Next stop on my Biennial tour was Tate Liverpool, my favourite piece here was Big Rock Candy Mountain by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian. This film shows footage of ISIS militants destroying historical artefacts in Iraq and Syria, the artists have reanimated the footage with drawings, paintings and collage, transforming the militants into animals and fictional creations.
For me, the highlight of my tour was the abandoned ABC cinema. Upon entering the space, which is pitch black, you are handed a torch to go and explore the artwork. Some light emerges from screens dotted about the space showing short films by Samson Kambalu. The main screen shows Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni’s film series The Unmanned, recounting a history of technology in reverse. I loved the whole experience of delving into the darkness in this derelict space, discovering hidden sculptures and reading labels by torch light.
I highly recommend visiting the Open Eye Gallery, Koki Tanaka’s film Provisional Studies: Action #6 1985 School Students Strike, revisits the scene of the original strike through Liverpool. He invites original participants to share their memories of the event. Young people were also invited to reflect on how the strike relates to the present political situation.
The Oratory, originally a mortuary chapel but now under the care of National Museums Liverpool, is an eerie place to view Rubber Coated Steel, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s chilling audio analysis of the deaths of two boys in the West Bank of Palestine. The surrounding neoclassical sculptures add to the tension.
I also viewed Ian Cheng’s Something Thinking of You at Hondo Chinese Supermarket. I loved the oddity of this film being shown on a high shelf in a Supermarket, surrounded by shoppers carrying on with their day to day business.
I ended my tour at Granby Street seeing The Last Planet Parade by Arseny Zhilyaev – this was my favourite piece. Inspired by The Planet Parade, a term used to describe the appearance of an intense concentration of stars and planets in the night sky, seen only when Earth is in a very specific position in the Universe. Zhilyaev imagines a constellation of planets that only appear during our planets final days of life. This is represented in the form of a beautiful stained glass window, the reflections are just as cosmic as the piece itself.