Apologies for (once again) providing a belated documentation of my travels but time is only now allowing me to do this write up. 2016 saw Liverpool Biennial return to the city for it’s ninth incarnation with an exciting, city-wide arts programme.
My visit to Albert Dock saw me immediately greeted by the World War I ‘Dazzle Ship’, a co-commision between 14-18 NOW, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool (not to be confused with ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle‘ by Peter Blake) that has transformed 1953 built Pilot Vessel ‘Edmund Gardner’ (National Historic Ships UK, 2009) into a Dazzle Ship representative of those seen during WWI. Dazzle Ships, the brain-child of Norman Wilkinson, were painted in striking colours and patterns to confuse German Submarines and make them harder to locate and attack. The design of the Dazzle Ship livery was heavily inspired by Cubist painting techniques (Liverpool Museum, 2016). The livery that ‘Edmund Gardener’ currently wears (pictured below) is the work of Paris-based artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (Jones, 2014).
Liverpool Biennial – Tate Liverpool
“Liverpool Biennial 2016 explores fictions, stories and histories, taking viewers on a series of voyages through time and space, drawing on Liverpool’s past, present and future. These journeys take the form of six ‘episodes’: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback. They are sited in galleries, public spaces, unused buildings, through live performance and online” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).
Tate Liverpool’s first floor played host to the Ancient Greece ‘episode’ of the Biennial, a reimagining of worlds in which Ancient Greece and modern day collide and emerge as a single reality, a reminder of neoclassical architecture of the 1800’s (National Museums Liverpool, 2016). Classical sculpture stands alongside newly commissioned artworks.
Many of the classical sculptures on display are part of the Ince Blundell collection, a marriaging of various classical sculpture parts to other sculpture that does not neccessarily belong. The Blundell collection sees female heads attached to male bodies and extremities attached to the wrong side of the body, almost as if the coupling of Ancient Greece and 2016 is not without consequence.
“Alongside Blundell’s figures and fragments, Koenraad Dedobbeleer has made a series of display structures to support the classical sculptures in their new context. Andreas Angelidakis’s new film looks at Ancient Greek vases, and how they were used to spread news and myth, comparing this dissemination to the internet. Jumana Manna’s work draws parallels between Athens and Jerusalem to relate how their stories both contributed to the West’s self-construction, which in turn mirrored and partially shaped the economy and politics of the Middle East. Betty Woodman’s mural depicts a domestic scene, complete with three-dimensional ceramic objects” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).
Andreas Angelidakis’ work (pictured above) beautifully brought together the ancient greek arcitecture into our world, little models of fantastical dwellings seem more familiar to our world with the inclusion of (mass produced) books.
This linking of our two worlds was further enforced through the scattering of litter throughout the gallery space. This, I felt, was highly efective in keeping the idea of a combined reality in our thoughts.
‘Vase with Festoon of Flowers and Dictionary, 2016′ (pictured below) was a standout piece for me by artist Jumana Manna. “Weaving together the methods of historian, anthropologist and performer, Manna’s films and sculptures question the limits of the body in relation to historic narratives of nationalism” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).
A trip anywhere is not complete without passing through the learning area! Although this area is aimed to engage young children with the act of art making it does provide an artist with area to escape from their own strict studio practice. Pictured below are examples of some of the creations made when I was let loose in the Learning Centre.
Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus
At first glance, Emin and Blake might not seem to be likely bedfellows (if you’ll pardon the pun) but dig a little deeper and parrallels begin to appear.
My Bed (1998) offers the viewer an intimate glimpse into the life of the artist during a particularly messy period in her life, it is a portrait of truth and and pain not unlike the work of Blake.
“Blake stood against the hypocrisies of his age championing liberalism, sexual freedoms and above all freedom of expression. This new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic truth through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art, shared in the work of Tracey Emin” (Tate, 2016).
For me, this was the first time seeing ‘My Bed’ in person. I had seen it thousands of times in reproduced images but the only way to truly experience this piece is to see it in person for there is one sense that cannot be reproduced – smell. I was quite taken aback just how potent ‘My Bed’ actually is.
‘Constellations’ presents pieces from Tate’s collection in a new light. The Exhibition space here can be thought of as an astrology map, major artworks take on the role of constallations that act as a trigger and are surrounded by other artworks that take inspiration from the constallation (Tate, 2016).
One of the stand out pieces here is Enrico David’s 2002 ‘Untitled’ piece (pictured above and below).
Anther piece worthy of note is ‘Painter’, a 1995 video piece presenting a satire of an artist’s life. A very clever piece and a must see!
Jones, C. (2014) Gallery: World war I ‘dazzle ship’ is transformed on Liverpool’s waterfront. Available at: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/gallery-world-war-dazzle-ship-7246865 (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
Liverpool Museum (2016) Dazzle ship – Merseyside maritime museum, Liverpool museums. Available at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/exhibitions/dazzle-ship/ (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
National Historic Ships UK (2009) Edmund Gardner · national historic ships UK. Available at: http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/444/edmund-gardner (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
National Museums Liverpool, N.M. (2016) Liverpool biennial: Festival of contemporary art. Available at: http://www.biennial.com/2016/exhibition/about (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
Tate (2016) Constellations highlights from the nation’s collection of modern art. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool/display/constellations (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
Tate (2006) Painter, Paul McCarthy 1995 | Tate Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mccarthy-painter-t12606 (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
Tate (2016) Everybody Razzle dazzle. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/everybody-razzle-dazzle (Accessed: 21 December 2016).
Tate (2016) Tracey Emin and William Blake in focus. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/tracey-emin-and-william-blake-focus (Accessed: 21 December 2016).