Favela! at The Royal Standard – Reviewed

Flis Mitchell reflects on one Light Night event taking place on the outskirts of the city centre…

Historically Liverpool was a dynamic city; innovative and optimistic in the extreme. Everything that is interesting and valuable appears to have been pioneered here (seriously); from purpose built ambulances, to dedicated schools for the blind, rail way travel, legal aid, even the NSPCC and the RSPCA started in Liverpool, with a dedicated Whitehall office, and an American embassy. This place rocked with philanthropy and multiculturalism.

Right now, it feels as though that dynamism and enthusiasm for newness and invention is here again. Everywhere you look, ambitious projects are popping up; everyone seems to be launching zines, and websites, having exhibitions, pop-up shops and guerrilla gigs. There seems to be a sort of giddy cultural blooming, from The Double Negative to Deep Hedonia, Drawing Paper and Queen of the Track. You could say that right now Liverpool is an exciting place to be.

Favela! at The Royal Standard (as part of the Light Night festivities) was one such example. The two day multi-faceted event showcased the joy and talent that seems to typify the city right now. A variety of offerings included ‘open’ studios, where artists displayed re-orchestrated but clearly working studios, alongside curated mini-exhibitions such as Jambalaya by Kevin Hunt and Sam Venables. This exhibit explicitly referenced Claus Oldenburg and was a happy re-arranging of modern cultural artefacts, re-packaged back to us, the manner of which which clearly articulated a desire for new interpretative narratives. This use of re-interpretation seemed to be echoed right through the building. The gravitas and silence of Madeline Hall’s work neatly backed on to the space structure of Dave Evans, who coupled works with Frances Disley for a refreshed look at both practices.

The idea of small viewings, renewing, and looking again, continued on Saturday with Pecha Kucha (slide shows in which people have a limited amount of time to present) talks given by the studio members. Linny Venables gave a stream of consciousness list of references while unmatched images were projected behind her, and Emily Speed read from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities while images of Giotto’s paintings were shown. Sam Venables shifted the mood with a Youtube screening of the Birkenhead Stomper, and Dave Evans (pictured) gave a delightfully rushed account of childhood fears of a nuclear apocalypse. Adam Cooper’s meditative and powerful sound installation Powder, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, wound itself through reel to reel tape decks, next to the viewing room where a multitude of film screenings were shown, for those preferring the secretive quiet  to the busy bar.

Throughout Saturday, artists were spirited off by the Open Culture film crew for interviews, and Laurence Payot (a recent Sky Arts Ignition prize winner) debuted her new project Anytime Anywhere, grabbing volunteers. The Double Negative hosted a discussion/workshop about artists’ use of social media in the gallery where Super Fast Girlie Show later played an explosive 20 minute set; demonstrating band as exhibit, before popping off for more guerrilla gigs around Liverpool.

The event closed with DJ’s, cocktails, and dancing. This was a casual yet high quality, easy day where intelligent content was delivered with an unpretentious ease, on the periphery of the city. And as the creative bloom gathers pace, we can expect more events of this calibre throughout the summer in the year that Liverpool hosts the UK’s Biennial.

Flis Mitchell is co-founder of Queen of The Track Zine, coming soon…

Posted on 21/05/2012 by thedoublenegative