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Liverpool Biennial extends its opening through summer

The Liverpool Biennial is being extended to the end of June ‘and beyond’ to give audiences the chance to see work in indoor venues.

The UK’s largest festival of contemporary art, which opens today, was due to run until June 6.

But now Biennial bosses have revealed they have pushed the closing date to at least June 27 – and potentially September at some venues - to provide art fans with more time to enjoy the work of dozens of local, national and international artists.

The old Lewis’s department store building and the former Cotton Exchange in Old Hall Street are among the locations being used.

Elsewhere, the Open Eye Gallery at Mann Island will host Biennial work until June 6, Tate Liverpool until June 20, FACT until August 29 and the Bluecoat until September 5.

The event, which was postponed from 2020, has the theme The Stomach and the Port – exploring concepts of the body and Liverpool’s historic role as a place of global contact and circulation.

It involves 50 artists from 30 countries and features 47 new commissions.

The first ‘chapter’ includes a series of outdoor commissions and an online portal where people can find a number of new pieces of work.

Meanwhile from April 23, a further three commissions will be revealed including Superposition (2021) by Erick Beltrán, whose sound pieces and corresponding graphical drawings around his research into Latino American Cumbia music will be presented in a fleet of ComCab taxis travelling around Liverpool city centre.

The second Biennial ‘chapter’ will take place at indoor venues across the city from the middle of May, depending on Covid lockdown roadmap restrictions at the time.

Above: Linder - Bower of Bliss in Liverpool ONE. Top: Larry Achiampong - Pan African Flags for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance. Photos by Mark McNulty

Biennial interim director Samantha Lackey said: “It’s really important to underline that visitors can experience all these works across the city in safety through observing social distancing.

“But more than that, and at the same time of course, they give us the chance to have shared in person experiences with art once again.

“This is the UK’s first major arts festival to open up in real life after lockdown, breathing life and energy into the city of Liverpool.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of the Arts Council which funds the festival, said: “This is the 11th Biennial, and the previous 10 have really done so much to advance and reinforce the international position of Liverpool as a city engaged in culture.

“Liverpool has a very long cultural tradition, but it has been enormously strengthened in recent years by the creation of new organisations. But also, by the collaboration which now takes place between large and smaller organisations.

“And I’m delighted that in parallel with the Biennial the Independents Biennial will showcase artists from the Liverpool city region.

“Art and culture has been hit more than almost any other sector by the pandemic.

“The opening of the Biennial is the first large scale festival event in the United Kingdom this spring. In a way it’s a harbinger of that spring – it brings hope, and it’s also a harbinger perhaps of better times to come both for the arts and the wider community.”

The outdoor commissions are:

Larry Achiampong: Pan African Flags for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance – 10 city centre locations

This forms part of Relic Traveller, a multi-disciplinary project that builds upon a postcolonial perspective.

A series of flags, displayed across 10 sites within the city centre, will comprise the original set of four, with each design featuring 54 stars to represent the 54 countries of Africa, along with a new set to be shown for the 2021 Biennial.

Rashid Johnson: Stacked Heads – Canning Graving Dock

This large-scale sculpture at Canning Graving Dock is formed with two distinct head parts in the style of a totem.

Made from bronze and furnished with yucca and cacti plants, the work takes inspiration from his series of drawings Anxious Men.

Linder: Bower of Bliss – Liverpool ONE

A major new billboard located within Liverpool ONE forms part of the artist’s Bower of Bliss constellation which has its origins in a copy of Oz magazine, which she bought at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972.

Jorgge Menna Barreto: Mauvais Alphabet - Bluecoat

The work, being shown on the side of Bluecoat and documenting weeds and wild edibles found in Liverpool, has been made in collaboration with students from Liverpool John Moores University and local mural artist Anna Jane Houghton.

Teresa Solar: Osteoclast (I do not know how I came to be on board this ship, this navel of my ark) – Exchange Flags

Solar’s work, positioned at Exchange Flags, is composed of five kayaks, each sculpture reflecting the shape of a human bone.

It draws parallels between bones - carriers of tissues, veins and cell communities, message pathways – and vessels, vehicles of migration, transmitters and connectors of bodies and knowledge.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané: La Pensée Férale – Crown Street Car Park (from April 17)

Mangrané’s installation features a replica of a Pau Rei, a native tree of the Brazilian Mata Atlántica, imbedded with the eye of an Indian pariah dog from Bangladesh, and surrounded by newly planted Fagus Purpurea Pendula trees.

Sonic and digital commissions hosted on the Biennial Online Portal include:

Ines Doujak and John Barker: Transmission: A series of five Podcasts on Disease and Pandemics in a Distorted World.

UBERMORGEN, Leonardo Impett and Joasia Krysa: The Next Biennial Should be Curated by a Machine

KeKeÇa Body Percussion Ensemble will deliver a series of interactive performances at key moments during the Biennial.

And across the weekend of March 20-21, visitors will be able to take a virtual trail of the new outdoor sculptures and installations and tune into Ines Doujak’s podcast series.

For full details and the online works and events visit the Biennial website HERE

Photos by Mark McNulty apart from Teresa Solar and Larry Achiampong at the Royal Albert Dock


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