Liverpool Biennial 2018

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
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George Osodi, Nigerian Monarchs (HRH Shehu of Borno Empire Abubakar Umar Garbai El Kanemi), 2016. Liverpool Biennial 2018, international festival of contemporary art
George Osodi, Nigerian Monarchs (HRH Shehu of Borno Empire Abubakar Umar Garbai El Kanemi), 2016

Liverpool Biennial 2018, 14 July–28 October 2018, free entry - Find Out More

The 10th edition of the UK’s largest festival of international contemporary art is drawing ever closer and the newly announced programme suggests there’ll be little to disappoint. Featuring major commissions by over 40 artists from 22 countries, and taking place across 15 locations, Liverpool Biennial 2018 (14 July – 28 October) will respond to its provocatively open-ended title, Beautiful world, where are you?, bravely reflecting on our current time of social, political and economic turmoil through the prism of the city’s rich past and present.

Among the key highlights to look forward to, Oscar nominee and New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda (now in her 90th year) will present a brand new three channel video installation at FACT, and curate the Liverpool Biennial 2018 film programme, presented in partnership with the BFI. Continuing the festival’s spotlight on children, internationally acclaimed Chester-born artist Ryan Gander will be collaborating with five young artists from a local primary school to transform the city’s iconic Metropolitan Cathedral through public sculpture. Rising star Holly Hendry will respond to Liverpool’s remarkable history of tunnels with a monumental outdoor construction and corresponding subterranean counterparts. And the deeply poetic, geopolitically-minded Francis Alÿs will exhibit an extensive series of plein air studies, providing an unusual insight into the artist’s creative process and the many countries he’s visited and responded to over the course of his 30 year-long career.

This year’s programme also sees a particular focus on Indigenous communities, reflecting ‘the resurgence of consciousness and activism amongst artists across the world’. This strand of the festival, presented at Tate Liverpool, will feature work by artists including Dale Harding, descendent of the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal people, and Annie Pootoogook, who derives from the small Innuit community of Kinngait in Canada. While Algerian-born artist Mohammed Bourouissa (currently the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris) will continue the Biennial’s long-standing collaboration with local activists and members of the Granby community by working with them to create a new ‘healing’ garden for the city, inspired by the therapeutic benefits of gardening and being outdoors.

Liverpool Biennial 2018’s enigmatic title, Beautiful world, where are you?, is borrowed from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The poem not only reflects the upheaval and profound change which was taking place across Europe at the time, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire, but also seems apt today, in a world gripped by deep uncertainty (indeed, the festival will take place just months before Britain exists the EU). Significantly, the flavour of this 10th edition looks set to be one of optimism rather than despair, however, with co-curators Sally Tallant and Kitty Scott positing an alternative reading of the line as “an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way.”

Complementing such an approach, the festival’s 2018 public programme will include a series of free public talks presented by The Serving Library from a wide range of prominent speakers, including economists, sociologists, media theorists, architects and painters, reflecting on Schiller’s prescient question and examining possible avenues forwards.

As ever, the relatively site-specific festival will unfold across numerous locations throughout Liverpool, from its much-loved galleries and civic buildings to its outer reaches and public spaces, inviting a fresh perspective on the city’s markedly polyglot landscape. Liverpool Biennial 2018 coincides with the 10th anniversary of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture, 60th anniversary of the John Moores Painting Prize and nearly 70 years of Bloomberg New Contemporaries. It has commissioned over 500 artworks to date.

Check back in June for our full Liverpool Biennial 2018 festival guide.

Full artist list: Madiha Aijaz (Pakistan), Abbas Akhavan (b. Iran, lives in Canada), Morehshin Allahyari (b. Iran, lives in US), Francis Alÿs (b. Belgium, lives in Mexico), Ei Arakawa (b. Japan, lives in USA), Kevin Beasley (USA), Mohamed Bourouissa (b. Algeria, lives in France), Banu Cennetoğlu (Turkey), Shannon Ebner (USA), Paul Elliman (UK), Inci Eviner (Turkey), Aslan Gaisumov (Chechnya), Ryan Gander with Jamie Clark, Phoebe Edwards, Tianna Mehta, Maisie Williams and Joshua Yates (UK), Joseph Grigely (USA), Dale Harding (Australia), Holly Hendry (UK), Lamia Joreige (Lebanon), Brian Jungen (b. Canada), Janice Kerbel (b. Canada, lives in UK), Duane Linklater (b. Canada), Mae-ling Lokko (b. Saudi Arabia, lives in Ghana and USA), Taus Makhacheva (Russia), Ari Benjamin Meyers (b. America, lives in Germany), Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladeshi, lives in USA), Paulina Olowska (Poland), George Osodi (Nigeria), Silke Otto-Knapp (b. Germany, lives in USA), Mathias Poledna (b. Austria, lives in USA), Annie Pootoogook (b. Canada), Reetu Sattar (Bangladesh), Suki Seokyeong Kang (South Korea), Iacopo Seri (Italy), Melanie Smith (b. England, lives in Mexico), The Serving Library (b. USA, lives in UK and USA), Agnès Varda (b. Belgium, lives in France), Joyce Wieland (Canada), Haegue Yang (b. South Korea, lives in South Korea and Germany), Chou Yu-Cheng (Taiwan), Rehana Zaman (UK).

14 July–28 October 2018
Free entry