By Eugenia Bertelè
The 10th edition of the Liverpool Biennial 2018 will be held between July 14 to October 28, inviting artists and audience to reflect, through the question Beautiful world, where are you?, on the uncertainty of the contemporary social, political and economic status. Over 40 artists from 22 countries will try to answer this question through existing works and new commitmentsIn 2018 Liverpool Biennial is celebrating 20 years of presenting international art in the city and region. The exhibition is curated by Kitty Scott (Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario) and Sally Tallant (Director, Liverpool Biennial) with the Liverpool Biennial team. The biennial is presented in different locations across the city including public spaces, civic buildings and Liverpool leading art venues: Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab, RIBA North, the Playhouse theatre, St George’s Hall, the Oratory, Victoria Gallery & Museum (University of Liverpool), and Blackburne House.
The title Beautiful world, where are you? comes from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The years between the composition of Schiller’s poem and Schubert’s song saw great upheaval and profound change in Europe, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. 40 artists from 22 countries contribute this year to create a new map of contemporary art ranging all continents: the curatorial selection, with the aim to discuss the global situation, broadens the reflection to artists who don’t represent Eurocentric perspective, bringing together indigenous artists from Canada and Australia, including the British debut of the legendary French film-maker Agnès Varda with the commitment of 3 Mouvements, a three-channel video installation combining precedent works, and portraying individuals in society through poetic images. Varda presents also Ulysse, a short film she directed in 1982. Recognized British artist Ryan Gander worked at Times moves quickly with 5 children from Knotty Ash Primary School in Liverpool to produce a series of artworks and a film exploring the activities carried out in the workshops. The project takes inspiration from the Montessori method of education, based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. A monumental ephemeral and site-specific sculpture by the Iranian artist Abbas Akhavan fills the Vide gallery at Bluecoat. Variations on a ghost make reference to artworks destroyed by ISIS over the last decade, in particular the ancient sculptures of the Assyrian protective deities, half man, half lion. The artist creates a transforming artwork that changes the physical appearance and the smell during the exhibition and turns its surface into a stone crust. At Great George Street in Liverpool, Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu, presents an updated version of The List, tracing information relating to the deaths of more than 34.000 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within, or on the border of Europe since 1993. Cennetoğlu explores the political, social and cultural dimension of the production, representation and distribution of knowledge questioning how this information can possibly feed a society’s collective thinking and become part of its ideology. Chechen artist Aslan Gaisumov, traces the struggle and turbulent stories of his people, connecting personal and collective memory in his recent work Keicheyuhea, created while following his grandmother during the return to her lost homeland in the mountainous scenery of the North Caucasus for the first time since the displacement of her family 73 years earlier. Polish artist Paulina Olowska created a new mosaic called Grace, Charles and the Sunflower that references the socialist belief that through the creation of a public work one can influence and present optimistic visions of a better world. The artist’s idea is based on a Polish mosaic from the 1960s situated on the side of a public school in the village of Raba Zdroj, where she lives. Despite its history, the mosaic remains unprotected and unmaintained: the government no longer promotes this kind of popular, public, post-soviet art and there is a strong possibility that it will be demolished in the future. By presenting a similar mosaic in Liverpool, Olowska champions the value of these works and suggests that they should be protected as part of the country’s national heritage. Over the past two decades, the UK’s largest celebration of contemporary art has commissioned more than 300 new artworks and exhibited by over 400 artists from across the globe.
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Review the complete artists list at this link.