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Liverpool Biennial announces Beautiful World Where Are You?

Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Art, 2016. Performance at RaebervonStenglin, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Zurich. Photo: Conradin Frei

Spanning across 15 weeks and the entire city, Liverpool Biennial is set to feature artists from across the globe in what is the largest festival of contemporary art in the UK.

Every two years the Biennial commissions international artists to make and present work in the context of Liverpool. The art not only resonates within this specific city, but it also brings something new to it.
Titled Beautiful World Where Are You? the festival will feature 40 artists from 22 countries, and this year, on its 20th anniversary, will include buildings never before a part of this city-wide exhibition. The title takes its name from the 1788 poem by Friedrich Schiller, and is suggestive of looking back with sadness, and forward with hope, as well as commenting upon the uncertain times we are living in. As co-curators Sally Tallant and Kitty Scott have pointed out, when the UK leaves the EU, Liverpool will have been the last European city of Culture in Britain. With this in mind, the title seems even more apt.
It is also interesting to note that this year sees many indigenous artists showing work, from Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook to Dale Harding exploring the aborigine past and his roots. It’s an international festival that has a home in the North West.

Annie Pootoogook, 'Bear by the Window', 2004. Image courtesy The Gas Company Inc
The art on display ranges from a community garden constructed by Mohamed Bourouissa to schoolchildren working with Ryan Gander to create a series of artworks based on Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. What is at the heart of this exhibition is education, and making this art as inclusive and accessible as possible for everyone in the city. There is a large part of the programme dedicated to championing new artists. The biennial supports emerging artists in the face of an increasingly challenging landscape for new artists without economic support.

Dale Harding, 'Ngaya boonda yinda nayi yoolgoogoo / I carry you in my heart', 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner
What is important to Tallant and Scott throughout this festival however is that we must share in this beauty, and do so in “a more equitable way”. The exhibition will see civic buildings and public spaces become stages and exhibition halls, and the whole city will be transformed to house new work from the world’s most exciting modern artists. The Everyman Theatre, the oldest repertory theatre in the country, will be home to performances and installations, bringing together the past and the future. Another instance of this is the inclusion of Blackborne House, once the first girls grammar school and now a home for women’s education services. This is certainly clear in Worlds within worlds, a strand within the biennial, which invites audiences to examine the stories and histories within the city’s architecture and artefacts. Within the architecture of Liverpool we see many voices, but the biennial allows us to fill that architecture with richly diverse voices too.

Blackburne House
Beautiful World Where Are You? will run across Liverpool from 14 July – 28 October and you can find more information on it here.