Exhibitions

Installation shot of laser art work
Liverpool Biennial. Photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Liverpool Biennial 2016

Polly Checkland Harding, Exhibitions Editor

The UK Biennial of contemporary art returns this year, bringing 44 artists from five continents to the fair city of Liverpool. The ninth edition of the Liverpool Biennial takes place between July and October in venues across the city – in museums and galleries (Liverpool has more than any other city in the UK, save London), but also restaurants, supermarkets, cinemas, outdoor spaces and even functioning Arriva city buses.

Liverpool Biennial’s programme for 2016 is organised as a story that will unfold in several episodes: ‘Ancient Greece’ nods to the city’s architectural past and sees one floor of Tate Liverpool transformed into Ancient Greece, with classical Greek sculptures appearing alongside new commissions by international artists. ‘Chinatown’ reflects on the fact that Liverpool’s Chinatown is the oldest in Europe, whilst looking forward to developer plans for a New Chinatown; this episode will include work by artists exiled in Dubai, sent over in a shipping container.

‘Monuments from the Future’ invites artists to envision the city in twenty, or forty years’ time with a series of public art commissions, whereas ‘Flashback’ looks at moments when the past punctures the present through sculpture and film. The ‘Children’s Episode’ thinks about the city’s future in the shape of new generations; here, artists work with and for children, exploring the space between reality and fiction. Finally, ‘Software’ thinks about programming as a portal to other dimensions and imagined worlds.

The Biennial is accompanied by a diverse line-up of events, including live performances, screenings, tours, talks and workshops across the city. It stretches over to Manchester for the first time, working with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art – but the heart of the festival will be the stunning Grade II listed Cains Brewery in Liverpool, a building that dates back to 1887 and once brewed over half a million barrels of beer a year. Also showing during the festival are the Liverpool Biennial Associate Artists, John Moores Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the Biennial Fringe.

Here are our top 5 picks

  • 1. Tate Liverpool for Liverpool Biennial 2016

    Tate Liverpool for Liverpool Biennial 2016
    Statue of Apollo Sauroktonos. © Tate Liverpool, Roger Sinek

    Tate Liverpool for Liverpool Biennial 2016 at Tate Liverpool, Waterfront, 9 July 2016–16 October 2016, free entry - Visit now

    The Biennial exhibition at Tate Liverpool is both striking and provocative, with classical sculpture interspersed with new commissions. Seeped in history, it’s worth spending time unravelling the stories behind the pieces – including a rather unexpected subtext about accidental hermaphrodites.

  • 2. FACT for Liverpool Biennial 2016

    FACT for Liverpool Biennial 2016
    Krzysztof Wodiczko, Guests, 2009. Liverpool Biennial 2016 at FACT. Image by Jon Barraclough.

    FACT for Liverpool Biennial 2016 at FACT, City Centre, 9 July 2016–16 October 2016, free entry - Visit now

    Visit FACT during the Biennial and you’ll discover a rather unusual set of inventions on the ground floor, as well as thought-provoking video work one flight up.

  • 3. Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Bluecoat

    Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Bluecoat
    Bloomberg New Contemporaries installation image, Bluecoat, 2016.

    Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Bluecoat, 9 July 2016–16 October 2016, free entry - Visit now

    Head over to the Bluecoat for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries – and cutting-edge new work from emerging artists – showing during Liverpool Biennial. This exhibition has been a reliable barometer for names to watch since 1949.

  • 4. Open Eye for Liverpool Biennial 2016

    Open Eye for Liverpool Biennial 2016
    Koki Tanaka, Provisional Studies Action #6, 1985 School Students’ Strike, 2016. Installation view at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool Biennial 2016. Photo: Mark McNulty.

    Open Eye for Liverpool Biennial 2016 at Open Eye Gallery, Waterfront, 9 July 2016–16 October 2016, free entry - Visit now

    Open Eye Gallery looks something like the aftermath of a protest during the Biennial; strewn with placards, the ground floor includes screenings of an artist’s recreation of a strike by around 10,000 children in 1985.

Things to do right now

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Mustang - Image courtesy of Liverpool Small Cinema
Cinema 4 September 2016–28 September 2016, from £3.00

Film Season: #DirectedbyWomen at Liverpool Small Cinema

Daisies - Image courtesy of Kino Film
Cinema 1 September 2016–30 September 2016, FREE

Scalarama

Giselle
Theatre 27 September 2016–2 October 2016, from £12.00

Akram Khan’s Giselle

projects-rachel-goodyear-glimpse
Exhibitions 24 September 2016–9 October 2016, FREE

Projects: Rachel Goodyear – Glimpse

en-image
Theatre 8 September 2016–15 October 2016, from £11.00

To Kill a Mockingbird at Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Installation shot of laser art work
Exhibitions 9 July 2016–16 October 2016, FREE

Liverpool Biennial 2016

HAND 01.1_1
Exhibitions 8 September 2016–30 October 2016, FREE

HAND CRAFT at Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Snowdrift by Edward Onslow Ford
Exhibitions 10 June 2016–31 October 2016, FREE

Elizabeth Price Curates at The Whitworth