Paul Elliman, QUERTY_PE, 2012. Courtesy of the artist

Liverpool Biennial 2018 – Beautiful world, where are you?

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

For this very special 10th edition of the ever-popular Liverpool Biennial, the international contemporary art festival presents a city-wide exhibition titled Beautiful world, where are you? (14 July-28 October). The provocative question derives from an ode to the lost glory of ancient Greece written by Friedrich Schiller in 1788; and set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819 with a composition that reflects the extreme turmoil of the preceding 100 years, bookended by the French Revolution and fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Yet it takes little to note how strongly the title continues to resonate in our current climate of widespread geopolitical, social, economic and environmental unrest – themes which thread throughout the Biennial’s 2018 offering of exciting new commissions and existing works drawn together from around the world.

This year’s artist line-up features several major names, including the widely revered grandmother of French New Wave cinema, Agnès Varda, and the ever-poetic Francis Alÿs, alongside a number of newer art world pioneers, such as Taus Makhacheva whose work met with widespread acclaim at the 2017 Venice Biennale. As in 2016, the festival is also a chance to experience Liverpool in a whole new light – encountering work in unusual places (like the former prison cells and courtroom of St George’s Hall) or engaging with its civic collection re-envisaged by guest curator Kitty Scott. Once again, there’s a strong emphasis on public art too – don’t miss Holly Hendry’s ambitious takeover of Exchange Flags in response to the city’s legendary Williamson Tunnels, or Ryan Gander’s creative collaboration with local school children in response to the city’s much-loved ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ (Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral).

Essentially: If there’s one thing you do this summer, we strongly recommend you hop on a train and make your way over to Liverpool. (And if you’re planning to cover it in just two days, wear comfortable shoes and check out our weekend guide here.)

Here are our picks

  • 1. Beautiful world, where are you? at Tate Liverpool

    Brian Jungen, Warrior 3, 2018. Beautiful world, where are you? at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial 2018

    Beautiful world, where are you? at Tate Liverpool, Waterfront, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Visit now

    Beautiful world, where are you? at Tate Liverpool presents work by a group of artists predominantly originating from America, Australia and Canada, dealing with issues of indigenous identity and the often-violent legacies of colonialism.

  • 2. Beautiful world, where are you? at St George’s Hall

    Beautiful world, where are you? at St George's Hall – Liverpool Biennial 2018

    Beautiful world, where are you? at St. George’s Hall, City Centre, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Visit now

    Step inside the former underground prison cells and original courtroom of the Grade I listed St George’s Hall, where Liverpool Biennial 2018 presents a body of works dealing with issues of power, authority and social justice.

  • 3. Beautiful world, where are you? at FACT

    Beautiful world, where are you? at FACT – Liverpool Biennial 2018

    Beautiful world, where are you? at FACT, City Centre, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Visit now

    Sending great ripples of excitement across the world of contemporary art and cinema alike, 3 Movements by the legendary French New Wave filmmaker and visionary Agnès Varda looks set to be one of the absolute highlights of this year’s Liverpool Biennial.

  • 4. Beautiful world, where are you? around Liverpool

    Beautiful world, where are you? at Exchange Flags – Liverpool Biennial 2018

    Beautiful world, where are you? at Exchange Flags, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Visit now

    For the 10th edition of Liverpool Biennial, its ever-popular programme of outdoor public art commissions and works presented in unusual spaces throughout the city looks unlikely to disappoint.

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

    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, free entry - Visit now

    Beautiful world, where are you? at Victoria Gallery & Museum features an epic body of miniature postcard-sized paintings by the masterful Francis Alÿs, alongside work by a number of other contemporary artists and the festival’s innovative sub-strand: Worlds within worlds.

  • 6. Agnès Varda: Pioneer at FACT

    Agnès Varda: Pioneer at FACT, City Centre, 18 July–17 October 2018, from £12.20 - Book now

    Alongside presenting a newly commissioned work for the Biennial, FACT and Picturehouse present weekly screenings of the works of Agnès Varda, and a personally curated set of films to accompany her own.

Things to do at Liverpool Biennial 2018 – Beautiful world, where are you?

Things to do right now

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Cinema 18 July–17 October 2018, from £12.20

Agnès Varda: Pioneer at FACT