Liverpool Biennial 2014, entitled A Needle Walks into a Haystack, is curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman and will take place in seven venues and a wide range of locations across the city, from established museums and galleries from the Trade Union Centre on Hardman Street, Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat, FACT, to unusual and unexpected places in the public realm.
A group show will be presented in the centre of the city in the former Trade Union Centre / School for the Blind, a neo-classical building dating from 1932. Designed by Anthony Minoprio and Hugh Spencely, the building’s 1932 extension features art deco reliefs by John Skeaping, one of the leading figures of British modern sculpture in the mid 20th century.
The Biennial group show will include work by Uri Aran (Israel), Marc Bauer (Switzerland), Bonnie Camplin (UK), Chris Evans (UK), Rana Hamadeh (Lebanon), Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet (France), Judith Hopf (Germany), Aaron Flint Jamison (US), Norma Jeane (US), Nicola L. (FR), William Leavitt (US), Christina Ramberg (US), Michael Stevenson (New Zealand), Josef Strau (Austria) with Stefan Tcherepnin (US), Peter Wächtler (Germany) and Amelie Von Wuffen.
A highlight of the opening weekend will be a concert at Liverpool Cathedral on the evening of Saturday 5 July of a specially composed new work by Michael Nyman, Symphony No 11: Hillsborough Memorial. The piece will be performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Liverpool-born mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and Liverpool Philharmonic Youth and Training Choirs, conducted by Josep Vicent.
A Needle Walks into a Haystack – Four exhibitions presented alongside the group show:
*Tate Liverpool – A transformation of Wolfson Gallery by the avant-garde French architect, Claude Parent. Slanted floors and ramps present the museum experience for the audience anew, in a plan devised through his theory of Fonction Oblique, and including works from the Tate’s collection by Anne Albers, Babette Mangolte, Gustav Metzger, Francis Picabia, Gillian Wise and others.
*Bluecoat – An exhibition devoted to James McNeill Whistler including a recreation of Whistler’s Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room, commissioned by the Liverpool-based ship owner F.R. Leyland.
* An apartment in Liverpool is taken over for a series of screenings and conversations around the work of experimental Belgian TV director, Jef Cornelis, exploring the relationship between television and art, documentary and artist films.
*FACT – The first solo show in the UK of American artist and filmmaker, Sharon Lockhart.
Also featured as part of Liverpool Biennial 2014 are the John Moores Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and exhibitions at Open Eye Gallery and the Exhibition Research Centre at Liverpool John Moores University.
A Needle Walks into a Haystack will include talks, screenings and other events throughout the Biennial with work by artists and curators in solo and group shows and performances throughout the city, ranging from the artist-run space The Royal Standard to the Walker Art Gallery.
The Companion, a three-day event on 19-21 September 19-21, conceived by Mai Abu ElDahab and Angie Keefer, is inspired by the ancient symposium form, consisting of a long dinner party punctuated by music and improvised commentary on a subject of shared interest. If experimental music is a category of composition in which emphasis is placed on the ‘how,’ rather than the ‘what,’ of producing sound, an experimental symposium is one in which the ‘what’ that eventually finds address with a public audience is the unforeseeable outcome of a dedicated exchange among the symposium participants. The Companion unfolds over a single weekend amidst a series of planned, primarily musical events, and will include improvisatory contributions developed through ongoing conversation between Keefer and a group of invited artists, writers, choreographers, musicians, and performers. The performances will mirror and reflect on various times of the day as artists appear in cafés during breakfast, at bus stops during the morning commute, in a pharmacy during an afternoon errand, or in a theatre right after dinner.
In parallel to the Biennial Exhibition, the Biennial will also present a co-commission with Tate Liverpool and 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations. Venezuelan artist, Carlos Cruz-Diez, will paint a version of a ‘Dazzle Ship’, in partnership with National Museums Liverpool. The Edmund Gardner vessel, conserved in Merseyside Maritime Museum, will be ‘dazzled’ in dry dock adjacent to Albert Dock Liverpool.
Publication – To accompany the 2014 Biennial Exhibition, there will be a publication co-edited by art historian Camille Pageard, and including texts by the curators and by Keren Cytter (Israel), Angie Keefer (US), Hassan Khan (Egypt), Kari Larsson (Sweden), Eileen Myles (US), Lisa Robertson (Canada) and Matthew Stadler (US) with drawings by Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico).
Liverpool Biennial 2014, 5 July – 26 October 2014