LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 – a major seven-month-long programme of photography-based art and exhibitions taking place across Liverpool, the Wirral and Shanghai – opens this June, curated by Open Eye Gallery. The first ‘chapter’ of the two-part festival is titled ‘Transplant’ and will explore photography’s ability to chart people, places and practices that have been uprooted, and document the process by which they grow into their new surroundings.
Among the key highlights, from 6 June to 25 September Victoria Gallery & Museum will present Shanghai Sacred; an important body of work by the award-winning British photographer and anthropologist Liz Hingley which documents the simultaneous rise of ultra-consumerism and the unprecedented religious revival currently being experienced in the world’s most populated city.
Across the River Mersey on The Wirral, an outdoor exhibition by World Photo Award-winning British-Chinese artist Yan Wang Preston at Birkenhead Priory (6 Jun-31 Aug) will respond to the modern practice of moving ancient trees into new places or planting in inappropriate climates. The multi-million-pound industry operates in China as an attempt to make the explosion of new urban developments appear more natural and authentic, but often leads to the trees sickening or dying.
Running alongside the two leading projects of Chapter One will be three separate ‘pop-up’ exhibitions at Victoria Gallery & Museum. Can’t See the Wood for the Trees (6 Jun-4 Jul) is a new project by artists John Davies and Tabitha Jussa that highlights the role of trees within the urban environment, their cultural significance, and the need to fight for their protection as green spaces continue to shrink across the UK. Triangulation (18 Jul-22 Aug) by artists Stephanie Wynne and Steve McCoy will feature panoramic shots taken at all 310 triangulation points used by Ordnance Survey to map Britain as part of an ongoing project that considers the ways in which we represent territory alongside issues of land use, ownership and boundaries. And lastly, The Allotments (29 Aug-28 Sep) by poet Pauline Rowe and photographer David Lockwood, will reflect upon allotments as shared spaces where people come to reconnect with nature, responding specifically to Dingle Vale allotments in Aigburth – one of Liverpool’s 25 thriving allotment communities.
Full details of the festival’s second chapter, which will run from 17 October to 21 December with exhibitions across Liverpool, the wider North West and Shanghai, are still to be announced. Bridging the two parts, however, Distinctly – first presented at Pingyao Photography Festival in China – will travel to Williamson Art Gallery & Museum (27 Sep-24 Nov). The exhibition takes a unique approach to the depiction of Britain and its distinct landscapes, industries, social and economic changes through the eyes of eleven of Britain’s most respected photographers from the last six decades: Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Marketa Luskacova, John Myers, Elaine Constantine, Tish Murtha archive, Daniel Meadows, Ken Grant, Niall McDiarmid, Robert Darch & Kirsty Mackay.
With so much going on, we can’t wait to see what the ‘scaled-up’ winter installment of LOOK Biennial 2019 has in store.