The dates of Liverpool Biennial 2018 have been announced. Taking place 14 July – 28 October, this is the tenth edition of an event that has brought newly-commissioned contemporary art to the city and the region since 1998. The last outing of the UK biennial of contemporary art, which took place in 2016, saw work from 44 artists from five continents displayed 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. The event saw 1.2m people engaging with a Liverpool Biennial artwork, with 60% of visitors coming from outside of the city.
Liverpool Biennial 2018 takes global uncertainty and turmoil as its theme. The title for the event is Beautiful world, where are you? after a line from a 1788 poem called ‘The Gods of Greece’ by German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller. Set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819, the poem echoed the rebellious themes of Schiller’s plays, encapsulating a world gripped by political, social and environmental disruption; it has proved as relevant today as it remained in the 31 years between Schiller first wrote it and Schubert set it to music, during which time both the French Revolution and the fall of the Napoleonic Empire took place.
The Liverpool Biennial curatorial team will be exploring the poem’s attention towards reconsidering the past, as well as its lament for the present. How this focus will manifest itself artistically has yet to be revealed, but if the previous nine editions of the biennial are anything to go by then the 2018 programme, which takes place as part of city-wide activity celebrating the 10th anniversary of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture, will be both portentous and spectacular.
Here are our picks