A Needle Walks Into A Haystack… Biennial 2014 Programme Revealed

Whistler, dazzleships, cartoons and a memorial to Hillsborough: Liverpool Biennial announces this year’s programme of events…

Decipher the title as you will — something about artists disrupting their own habitats? — but the 2014 Biennial looks to be as provocative as ever.

Presenting the contemporary art festival over two dates — July and September/October — the heart of the exhibition will be located at the historic (and currently out of bounds to the public) Trade Union Centre on Hardman Street with a group show of 17 artists. Highlights include Peter Wachtler’s Disney-esqe hand-drawn animations, and Marc Bauer’s huge site-specific wall drawings.

Perhaps the biggest announcement was that the Bluecoat — Liverpool city centre’s oldest building and “the peoples space for contemporary art” according to Biennial curator Mai Abu EIDahab – will host a major retrospective of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), complete with original colour-schemes and arrangements devised by the artist himself, and a rare recreation of his Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room.

Other official solo exhibitions will be hosted by Tate Liverpool — with a newly commissioned installation by the now 91 year old ‘supermodernist’ of French architecture, Claude Parent — and at FACT — a “mini-ecology” of Sharon Lockart’s film and photography works on the rights of children.

“Venezuelan kinetic and op artist Carlos Cruz-Diez presents Dazzleship, a reworked WW1 camouflage technique”

There will also, of course, be works in the public realm. Venezuelan kinetic and op artist Carlos Cruz-Diez presents Dazzleship, a reworked WW1 camouflage technique appplied to The Edmund Gardner vessel in the Albert Dock, launched during the summer’s River Festival (12 June). Composer Michael Nyman will present a never-before performed symphony, entitled Hillsborough Memorial, with the Liverpool Philharnonic Orchestra, Youth Choir and soprano Kathryn Rudge at Liverpool Cathedral (5 July).

Wider partner shows include the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Gallery (5 July, winner announced Sept), and Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the World Museum (20 Sept). Selection panel judges include Turner Prize nominee Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and tv critic and Royal Academy Artistic Director Tim Marlow.

Open Eye Gallery will host Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions as an Art Form, focusing on two famous festivals of art, the Venice Bienniale and Kassel’s dOCUMENTA. Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Centre will showcase the poetry, paintings and performance of Birkenhead artist Adrian Henri.

A new weekend dedicated to music and performance, The Companion, devised by New York artist Angie Keefer, will be celebrated across the city with international artists, writers and designers taking part (19-21 Sept).

This will be the first Biennial to be completely under the control of Artistic Director Sally Tallant,  since she took over the role in 2011; fuelled by “intense discussion” with international curators Mai Abu EIDahab and Anthony Huberman.

“All of the art organisations in the city need one another,” notes Tallant. “This is the first time I’ve been able to shape the Biennial right from the beginning and it’s been really amazing.”

Making an estimated £98.9 million economic impact over 2004-2012, with in excess of 600,000 visitors at the previous festival, Liverpool Biennial has now been officially extended to 2026, confirming its place in the UK as a major commissioning festival of contemporary art.

Laura Robertson

Liverpool Biennial, 5 July-26 October 2014, free entry

Follow the updates on Twitter: @Biennial

Read more about Liverpool’s Top Art Venues in our article for the Guardian

Posted on 09/04/2014 by thedoublenegative