Liverpool Biennial: Beautiful World Where are you?


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Haegue Yang, Long Neck Woman Upside Down at TATE Liverpool.


What do a glow-in-the-dark skate park, a lift exploding from the pavement, a ‘resilience garden’, a Korean house wedged haphazardly between two buildings and a red prefab house pumping out Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ have in common? 
The answer is Liverpool Biennial.
Over the past two decades the UK’s largest celebration of contemporary art has commissioned more than 300 new artworks of all shapes and sizes, and shown pieces by over 400 artists from across the globe. It has also won a reputation for being exciting, edgy and controversial, thanks to artists like Yoko Ono and Ai Weiwei.

This year the Biennial theme is ‘Beautiful world, where are you?’ – inspired by the line in a 230-year-old poem by Friedrich Schiller. The words suggest a world in turmoil – but also a chance to reconsider the past, and look at how we can build a more beautiful life for everyone in the future.

Seeing giant tube-like sculptures pop up overnight by Liverpool’s Town Hall confirmed to us, the Biennial is back. 
For its 20th anniversary, more than 40 international artists have been specially-commissioned by Liverpool Biennial to place art in some of the city’s finest venues, public spaces and hidden gems. 

Two years ago, the Biennial took over a Victorian sandstone reservoir, a busy shopping street and a derelict former cinema among its exhibition locations. This year, artworks weave through the former prison cells and courtroom of the grand St George’s Hall whilst the Playhouse theatre has been completely taken over by contemporary art. The Grade I listed Oratory outside Liverpool Cathedral remains a firm favourite amongst visitors, especially with it only being open during the Biennial. 

Artists have worked closely with people from the city, including schoolchildren, to create projects such as the popular Resilience Garden in Granby and Time Moves Quickly – a set of public sculptures and artworks at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Bluecoat. Whilst at Blackburne House, visitors can become part of the art themselves by booking in for a facial treatment inside Taus Makhacheva’s art spa. Spoiler alert: at the end of the treatment, an impression of your face will be taken and added to the sculpture...
Also showing as part of Liverpool Biennial 2018 is the prestigious John Moores Painting Prize at Walker Art Gallery, whose previous winners include Peter Doig, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney. 

All exhibitions are free and open Tuesday–Sunday until 28 October. There is also a packed programme of film screenings, talks, tours, family workshops and more throughout the festival. 

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