Liverpool Biennial 2012 – The Unexpected Guest: opening gambit

Posted on 21 September 2012
By Pierce King
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Liverpool Biennial 2012 is now in full swing after weeks of anticipation, this year’s opening enjoyed a real fervour of excitement about how artists would interpret the theme of The Unexpected Guest.

Here’s a venue by venue guide…

THE CUNARD BUILDING: The work of more than 15 artists is being shown in the former cruise liner headquarters including Ahmet Oguts Let It Be Known to All Persons Here Present, a film of a postman riding from Liverpool to Manchester to spread the word of the Biennial, and Runo Lagomarsinos An Offensive Object in the Least Offensive Way, a statue of a macaw that is the result of an encounter between the artist and her neighbour in Sao Paulo.

THE BLUECOAT: John Akomfrah examines the nature of memory in his three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation; in Outside!, Dora Garcia creates a live TV talk show allowing Liverpool residents to narrate their own story of the city, Dan Graham plays with viewers perception of inner and outer space; Jakob Holding uses photocollage to analyse notions of identity; and Sun Xun combines 11th century customs and animation to explore traditions of hospitality in his native China.

28-32 WOOD STREET: Ming Wong creates his own version of Polanskis iconic film Chinatown and sets it in Liverpool.

THE TEA FACTORY: Photographs by Sabelo Mlangeni including his 2008-9 series Men Only, shot in mens hostels in the inner-city district of Jeppestown, Johannesburg.

FACT: Ultimate Substance by Anja Kirschner and David Panos explores how the advent of coinage ancient Greece led to a division between sensual and abstract experiences, Pedro Reyes invites visitors to play one of a series of 10 games created for the Biennial, Jemima Wyman explores the idea of camouflage by creating a new skin for the building out of woven strips of T-shirt and Akram Zaatari investigates how photographs and film inform aesthetic and social codes in the Arab world.

HOTEL INDIGO: A public intervention by Runo Lagomarsino.

LJMU COPPERAS HILL BUILDING: Find yourself immersed in what looks like a pool of water only theres no water there, courtesy of Argentinian artist Jorge Macchi. Also the City States strand of the Biennial, which presents 13 exhibitions by cities across the globe including Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Makhachkala, and the Bloomsburg New Contemporaries exhibition of work by recent graduates of Britains art schools.

THE MONRO: The cast of a the inside of Janine Antonis mouth cupped around the bowl of a monogrammed silver spoon explores the relationship between mother and child, Dane Mitchell exhibits a series of glass objects, created by speaking Liverpool ghost stories into a glass blowing tube and Markus Kahre has created a cosy inn environment where slight physical or sensorial shifts make visitors feel the room is haunted.

TATE LIVERPOOL: A range of works from the Tate Collection including pieces by Gilbert and George, Martin Parr, Sophie Calle, Turner Prize 2011 nominee and John Moores Painting Prize judge George Shaw and Mark Wallinger, who won the 2008 Turner Prize when it was held at this very venue.

METAL: The travelling pop-up Cafe Valise comes to the Edge Hill Station arts centre as a venue for art, food and conversation. Meanwhile, a new poem by cult punk poet John Cooper Clarke is being played on trains between Lime Street and Edge Hill, Suzanne Lacy hosts a series of events for open conversation about rape and domestic violence, Orret Ashery presents a comic examination of claims that immigration and Islam are a threat to Western values of freedom and Thomas Joshua Cooper talks about travelling to some of the worlds most inhospitable places to take a single photograph.

THE ROYAL STANDARD: Five artist-led groups and collaborations occupy the gallery for two weeks a-piece to explore notions of public and private hospitality in Service Provider.

ST GEORGES HALL: Campaign by Libia Castro and Olafur Olafsson to provoke debate about our right to have rights.

VICTORIA GALLERY & MUSEUM: Solo exhibition of Liverpool-based artist Paul Rooney including video work, The Futurist, created inside the abandoned cinema on Lime Street.

WORLD MUSEUM: Exhibition of propositions for the reinvigoration of Everton Park by James Corner of Field Operations, the company behind the redevelopment of New Yorks High Line into a public park. Also features Fritz Haegs video documenting the local communitys aspirations for Everton Park.

WALKER ART GALLERY: The first solo UK show, outside London, of Turner Prize 2009 nominee Enrico David, including the installation Madreperlage (2003), a disturbing hotel room, and more recent works on paper. Meanwhile, Patrick Murphys 150 brightly coloured pigeons adorn the gallerys exterior.