Culture Diary w/c 09-07-2018: Festival Special

Annie Pootoogook, detail, courtesy the artist

It’s a festival frenzy this week, with all eyes on Liverpool. In short, if you’ve never visited the city before, then this is the week to do so…

Thursday — Launch Night: Independents Biennial 6pm @ George Henry Lee’s Building, Liverpool – FREE

Under new management via ArtinLiverpool’s Patrick Kirk-Smith, with a new identify and full of beans, the city’s fringe festival is back – thankfully – with a bang. It’s a huge umbrella strand for all sorts of artist-led events, from the traditional to the downright eccentric, running co-currently alongside the official Liverpool Biennial from July-October 2018 (see Friday’s launch). Have a look at the website for the exhaustive programme; if painting’s your bag, for example, see CBS Gallery’s Please Slow Down, Luke George in the Baltic Triangle; or skip past the Aldi in St Johns Market to experience the Reading Room, Kids That Fly or the Royal College of Art. As with the Biennial, it’s a fantastic way to explore the city.

However, it’s George Henry Lee’s that we’re most looking forward to visiting: the former department store will be hosting the Empty Spaces Cinema, two strong exhibitions from Redeye’s Photography Network (Disparity Collective, Positions of Power, and Unio Collective: Hidden Worlds); a painting show inspired by Finnegans Wake (A Long The Riverrun), and graduate award exhibitions from Hope and Liverpool John Moores universities. Great stuff.

Cherie Grist, courtesy the artist

Exhibition Opening: This Is Shanghai/China Dream 6pm @ Cunard Building, Tate Liverpool Mann Island, Museum of Liverpool — FREE

Twinned with Shanghai since 1999, and with the oldest Chinese population in Europe, it’s no surprise that China is one focus of Liverpool’s cultural programming this year – 10 years on from our European Capital of Culture win. What you may not know is that Liverpool benefits from expertise in contemporary Chinese art, as the University of Liverpool and Open Eye Gallery have been collaborating with Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) and the University of Salford Art Collection. So far in the China Dream programme, the city’s had the Terracotta Warriors, the Chinese New Year festival and PRESENCE: A Window into Chinese Contemporary Art.

The latest exhibition, This is Shanghai, seems to be focussed on the everyday encounters that contemporary artists have observed about Liverpool and Shanghai; comparing and contrasting how we live now. We particularly love the sensitive and melancholy photography of Liang Yue; known for depicting familiar, empty streets and landscapes (On the Bridge), sometimes turned a very unfamiliar yellow/grey by sand storms blown in from the desert (Several Dusks). Also, Xu Zhen’s finess video is a must-see: entitled Physique of Consciousness, and produced by MadeIn Company, it promises to be “the first cultural fitness exercise ever made”, reflecting “the diversity of human ideologies”. See the main exhibition until 7 September.

Physique of Consciousness, Xu Zhen, Produced by MadeInCompany

Friday – Launch Night: Liverpool Biennial 6pm @ Venues Across Liverpool — FREE

“Beautiful world, where are you?” seems an apt title for this 10th edition Liverpool Biennial, considering the utter shit show of global (and national) politics right now. 40 artists from 22 countries attempt to respond, from despair to hope and defiance, with a healthy does of humour thrown in for good measure. See an Agnès Varda retrospective at FACT (in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, too, on Friday), Mohamed Bourouissa’s ‘resilience’ garden in Toxteth, Taus Makhacheva’s pop-up spa at Blackburn House, Ryan Gander’s collaboration with school children at Liverpool Cathedral, the tradition-defying drawings of Canadian Inuk Annie Pootoogook at Tate… You’ll find huge names from the art world attempting to tell their own stories within the context of a city well versed in resistance tales.

Alongside the official programming, you’ll also be able to check out the Independents Biennial (see Thursday), the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Gallery (whose winner will also be announced on Thursday), and fresh blood from the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018 at Liverpool School of Art & Design (with work selected by Benedict Drew, Katy Moran and Keith Piper). Festival continues until 28 October.

Mohamed Bourouissa’s ‘resilience’ garden in Toxteth

Saturday — Brazilica Festival 12pm-4am @ Venues Across Liverpool — FREE

Launching on Thursday with Brasilia band Muntchako at Constellations, and then a Carnival Queen competition at Circo on Friday, the main event that everyone will be talking about is really today: the 11thanniversary festival on the Pier Head (12–8pm). Expect live performances of Brazilian/Afro Latin music from Sueli G, Agathe Iracema, electronic quartet Penya, The Fontanas, and Aleh Ferreira, plus DJs all day.

In the evening (from 8pm), head back into the city centre for a Carnival Parade; with sensational costumes, feathers, more music and – of course – dancing from Abercromby Square to Williamson Square.

For those of you fuelled up on Pineapple cocktails, the samba party bangs on through Camp and Furnace (until 4am). Everyone else can sit back and enjoy Brazilica Film Festival from Monday (until 26 July) at various venues across the city; screening eight films including 2016 biopic Elis, about the rise and fall of the greatest Brazilian singers of all time, Elis Regina.

Brazilica Festival

Laura Robertson

Images, from top: Annie Pootoogook, Cherie Grist, Xu Zhen and MadeIn Company, Mohamed Bourouissa, Brasilica 

Posted on 10/07/2018 by thedoublenegative