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Nine indoor Liverpool Biennial exhibitions you can enjoy

Work from more than 20 international artists is going on display across nine indoor Biennial locations in Liverpool city centre this week.

From unusual ‘found’ sites like Lewis’s, Lush and the basement of the old Cotton Exchange to major city galleries, people will have the chance to see a mixture of new commissions and previous work by artists from the UK and all over the world.

The theme of this year’s Biennial is The Stomach and the Port, with the question being posed – what is a body? And in total, taking in indoor venues, the outdoor programme and online work, there are 150 works of art by a total of 50 arts and collectives from 30 countries.

There are three suggested trails across the city; Stomach which takes in venues and artwork on the Liverpool waterfront, Porosity in the city’s business district, and Kinship – the interconnection between people, animals, nature, histories and technology - in the city centre.

The indoor exhibitions will be open from May 19 onwards, with closing dates from June to September depending on the venue.

The Liverpool Biennial’s new director Samantha Lackey says: “We invited the artists to come together and explore how their work might connect to ideas of what it is to be human. What it is to exist in a body at this moment in time.

“The work reflect on systems of exchange and experiences of connection, on how borders are not only geographic but also bodily and are not fixed but results of political and subjective constructs.”

And curator Manuela Moscoso adds: “I would like people to take away an experience of art, to be in contact with art practices. And to engage with ideas about what it is live in the world and the different experiences of being in the world.”

In addition to the nine Biennial exhibitions, the complementary John Moores Painting Prize will also be on show at the Walker Art Gallery.

Here is what you can see and where. All displays are free but timed ticket entry may be required at some locations.

Tate Liverpool – until June 20

Tate is giving over its second-floor gallery space to exhibit works which are interlinked through the history of feminism as a form of rebellion, with new commissions and existing work from four artists sitting alongside work from the Tate Collection.

Martine Syms’ Borrowed Lady is a four-screen video installation which features the artist and poet Diamond Stingily performing gestures, turns of phrase and expressions.

The late Estonian artist Anu Põder’s set of sculptures titled Tongues (above) from Tate’s Collection are realistic representations of the human tongue, cut and exaggerated in size, and cast from soap, and showing various stages of decay and corrosion.

Jutta Koether presents a new series of paintings at Tate Liverpool. The German artist’s work combines vibrant colours and gestural strokes with contemporary and historical imagery, while Liverpool-born Linder is showcasing a series of lightbox and photomontage works and Ebony G Patterson has created a new installation (below) - when the cry takes root - along with showcasing a textile wall work.

Tate is also showing Nicholas Hlobo’s sculptural installation Balindile I; Judy Chicago’s series of lithographs Through the Flower No. 2-4 and What is Feminist Art?; three paintings by Ithell Colquhoun – Earth Process, Volcanic Landscape and Three Elements, and Ines Doujak and John Barker’s film work Masterless Voices and a new podcast series on the history of pandemics titled Transmission: a series of five Podcasts on Disease and Pandemics in a Distorted World.

Bluecoat – until September 5

Biennial takes over the entire gallery space at Bluecoat with work by six artists on display across two floors, exploring the relationship between people, things and the environment.

There are two video installation pieces – Laura Huertas Millan’s film Jiibie examines the history and cultural importance of the sacred coca leaf for the Muina Murui community in the Columbian Amazon, while Daniel Steegmann Mangrane’s video Fog Dog, shot at the Institute of Fine Arts in Dhaka, Bangladesh, tells of a space where ghosts, humans, animals, colonial histories and the environment meet.

Portuguese artist André Romão’s sculptures (pictured) blur physical barriers between bodies and the environment, while Jadé Fadojutimi is exhibiting paintings By a Window and Let’s Take a Walk on a Tangent.

Kathleen Ryan’s trio of sculptures, Bad Fruit (above), depict a peach, lemon and cherries in a state of decay, while Roland Persson’s Mouth of Medusa confuses the boundaries between what is natural and what is artificial.

FACT – until August 29

The works on show at the Wood Street venue reflect on different ways of understanding or connecting with the world through our bodies, exploring ways of mutual exchange and giving and caring.

The ground floor gallery features an immersive environment created by B.O.S.S (Black Obsidian Sound System).

The Only Good System is a Soundsystem reflects and describes ways in which marginalised groups have developed methods of assembling against a backdrop of repression and discrimination in the UK.

Zheng Bo has taken over the first-floor gallery with his multi-screen work Pteridophilia, the fifth in a series, which pushes the boundaries of sexuality and love to incorporate the natural world. Please note that the films depict scenes of what are described as physical intimacy between people and plants.

Open Eye Gallery – until June 6

Liverpool’s role as a major world port and the trade in commodified human beings and the goods they produced – sugar and cotton among them – is at the heart of the work of the two artists showing at the Mann Island gallery.

Zineb Sedira’s Sugar Routes series features large scale photographs and accompanying sculptures created from sugar and recounts the history of forced migration and continued trade of sugar across the Atlantic for mass consumption.

On the first floor, Alberta Whittle’s complementary film, titled between a whisper and a cry, also reflects on these oceanic roots and the afterlife of colonialism in the modern world.

Lewis’s Building – until June 27

On the ground floor, Jes Fan presents three new works titled Network (For Staying Low to the Ground), Network (For Survival) and Network (For Dispersal). The sprawling new work takes the form of an entangled network of borosilicate tubing, punctuated with biomorphic forms.

Camille Henrot presents a set of newly commissioned sculptures and paintings from her Wet Job (2020-21) series, and Pedro Neves Marques explores links between human and materiality.

And Argentinian artist Diego Bianchi has created a new work, Inflation (pictured above), which is comprised of a number of video installations and sculptures where giant internal organs are recreated from found materials and rubbish to be found in garages.

The second floor is given over to an audio-visual installation by Lamin Fofana.

And the third floor features the work of a number of artists.

Reto Pulfer presents a newly commissioned site-specific piece titled hyperbolisch ratlos ortlos inhaltslos (above), consisting of immersive textile installations; the work focuses on the relationship between the body and nature.

Kathleen Ryan’s sinuous iron structure Mother of Pearl alludes to the form of a furnace – a facilitator of industry which is dependent on natural materials for fuel – it is figurative and infinite in shape, its rusty exterior contrasted by a smooth abalone shell interior.

Alice Channer presents a series of sculptures and pleated fabric prints in which she mimics a geological process that happens on a massively non-human scale using industrial processes that operate on a human scale.

Ane Graff’s The Goblets are full of pollutants found in our everyday world, and Taiwanese artist Luo Jr-shin transports visitors to a nightclub toilet, complete with sticky floors and coloured lights – a setting for spontaneous meetings and conversation.

Lush Building – until June 27

Lush in Church Street opens up its top floor for work by four artists who all examine and explore what a human is.

Christopher Cozier’s new work turbulence (pictured) is made up of drawings exploring the global oil economy and its relationship to, and impact on, the world – especially his home country Trinidad and Tobago.

Neo Muyanga’s new video installation A Maze in Grace in inspired by clergyman – and former Liverpool slave trader - John Newton’s hymn Amazing Grace which became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement in America.

Jenna Sutela’s trio of sculptures (above), titled Indigo, Orange and Plum Matter, explores the brain and suggests, through the fluid Physarum Polycephalum which bubbled inside them like a lava lamp, that non-human beings are also capable of complex intelligence.

And Ayesha Hameed’s I sing of the sea I am mermaid of the trees explores the ocean as a mode of transmission for sound.

Cotton Exchange – until June 27

In the 19th and early 20th Century Liverpool’s fortunes were built on the cotton trade, and the former Cotton Exchange in Old Hall Street is symbolic of this part of the city’s economy and societal history.

Work by three artists is on display – sculptures by Sonia Gomes, a new immersive audio installation from Invernomuto & Jim C Need, and photographs by Xaviera Simmons.

Access is via the Ormond Street entrance.

Central Library – until June 27

The work of 19th Century American artist John James Audubon has inspired Yael Davids’ work Wingspan of the captive which can be seen in the Hornby Library – just along the corridor from Audubon’s Birds of America.

Davids considers the anatomy – not a million miles away from our own, behaviour and movements of these birds and explores what it means to migrate, study and to be studied.

Dr Martin Luther King Building – until June 27

David Yink Zi’s video installation Horror Vacui is being shown in the former Dock Traffic Office.

The film explores points of contact generated by colonial history through sound. It centres around Latin band De Adentro y Afuera, combining footage of rehearsals with images of Afro-Cuban rituals.

The music is the amalgamation and connection of multiple cultures, identities and histories.


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