Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery & Museum

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Taus Makhacheva, Tightrope (film still), 2015. Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery & Museum – Liverpool Biennial 2018

Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery and Museum, 14 July — 28 October 2018 Entrance is free

One of the leading artists of his generation, Francis Alÿs has long been celebrated for his ability to speak of often deeply complex geo-political issues or offer fragments of brightly incisive social commentary through incredibly simple, poetic acts, which he performs and captures using a wide variety of media. For Liverpool Biennial 2018, the artist presents Age Piece – a series of postcard-sized paintings made between the 1980s and today whilst scouting for new locations for future film projects, often in war zones such as Israel and Palestine or Afghanistan and Iraq.

As well as tapping into the transitory reality of the place where each painting was made, the collective body of work also makes a wider, self-reflexive comment on the condition of global tourism within the contemporary art scene; a seemingly bold statement within the context of Liverpool Biennial – an international contemporary art festival which actively invites artists to respond to a city in which most are no more than passing visitors.

Context, after all, is everything – a point that lies at the heart of Joseph Grigely’s 2012 series Songs Without Words, which presents newspaper images of singers and musicians removed from their original accompanying captions, in order to draw attention to the essential ambiguity and, at times, surreal absurdity of the world without its familiar frames.

Elsewhere, Taus Makhacheva’s video piece Tightrope (2015), made in collaboration with a fifth-generation tightrope walker and which met with great success at the 2017 Venice Biennale, uses an incredible feat of balance to explore the delicate intricacies of the political situation in Dagestan – one of the most violent of all Russian republics, where the film is set – alongside the intense personal risk involved in any creative act.

Moving between boarders, Aslan Gaisumov’s powerful film People of No Consequences (2016) documents the gathering of a group of elderly male and female survivors of the 1944 Soviet deportation of the Chechen and Ingush nations of Central Asia – a strong companion to his moving film installation Keicheyuhea (2017) at St. George’s Hall.

A major highlight of this section of Beautiful world, where are you? however is the setting itself. The works presented here span several floors of the Victoria Gallery & Museum – a stunning feat of Grade II listed ‘redbrick’ architecture by Alfred Waterhouse with a breath-taking art deco interior of floor-to-ceiling ceramic tiles. It’s also one of the places where visitors will find Worlds within worlds – an innovative sub-strand of this year’s festival by guest curator Kitty Scott, which invites audiences to engage with Liverpool’s layered past through the rich histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections.

A series of floor-based sculptures by Holly Hendry, made from unusual combinations of materials, such as jesmonite, cement and oak; and a set of paintings by Silke Otto-Knapp can be found here too.

Check out the rest of our guide to Liverpool Biennial 2018.

Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery and Museum, 14 July — 28 October 2018 Entrance is free

Where to go near Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery & Museum

LJMU Exhibition Research Lab

Exhibition Research Lab is the first academic centre and art gallery in the UK dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of exhibitions and curatorial knowledge.

Abercromby Square, city parks, urban gardening
Abercromby Square

Abercromby Square in Liverpool was built as a communal garden for the rectangle of 19th-century houses that surround it.

Everyman Theatre
Hope Street
Liverpool Everyman Theatre

The Everyman Theatre on Liverpool’s Hope Street reopened in March 2014 after extensive renovation. It is twinned with the Playhouse on Williamson Square.

The Reader Bar & Restaurant

The Reader Bar & Restaurant offers diners a bistro-style menu, inspired by continental European flavours and created using locally sourced seasonal produce. 

City Centre
The Pen Factory

From the team behind the old Everyman Bistro comes The Pen Factory, a warm and welcoming space situated in the basement of the Annex Building.

Music venue
Tung Auditorium

The Tung Auditorium is Liverpool’s new, state-of-the art performance space seating up to 400 people and hosting a variety of concerts.

Arts Bar Baltic

A safe and creative space, with a mission to help support and develop Liverpool’s artistic scene.

Capstone Theatre

The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool’s International Arts Venue, is a concert venue for leading national and international musicians, with a vibrant multi-arts programme.

The garden at Free State Kitchen
City Centre
Free State Kitchen

With a large beer garden and commitment to using locally sourced produce, Free State Kitchen in Liverpool isn’t just-another-burger-joint.

What's on: Exhibitions

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.