The UK Biennial of Contemporary Art
PO Box 1200, 55 Jordan Street
Liverpool L69 1XB
T 00 44 (0) 0151 709 7444
Liverpool Biennial 2012, the largest international contemporary arts festival in the UK, has just finished its successful ten-week run programme of exhibitions, commissions and events involving 242 artists in 27 galleries, museums and different locations across the city. This year’s Biennial was the first under its new director, Sally Tallant.
A preliminary report by England’s Northwest Research Services indicates 686,000 people visited the Biennial, its highest figure since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008.
This year the Biennial explored ideas of hospitality under the title of The Unexpected Guest. Leading and emerging artists were commissioned to make site-specific works across the city as well as long-term community-based projects. Sky Arts Ignition Series presented The Source, in partnership with Tate Liverpool, a major public commission by Doug Aitken, installed on Albert Dock in a temporary structure designed by leading architect David Adjaye—The Source continues on view until 13 January 2013; composer Rhys Chatham, renowned for his large-scale performance works, presented A Crimson Grail for 100 guitars and basses as part of the opening weekend to an audience of 2,200 people; Elmgreen & Dragset premiered a work examining the hierarchy of values and meritocracy established by celebrity culture and Oded Hirsch presented a work bursting through the pavement of the Liverpool ONE shopping centre. City States brought together 40 artists from 13 cities, exploring the dynamics between cities and states with new and existing work from: Birmingham; Copenhagen; Gdansk; Hong Kong, Incheon, Lisbon, Makhachkala, Oslo, Reykjavik, Nuuk and Tórshavn; St. Petersburg; Taipei; Vilnius and Wellington.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries showcased the best contemporary work from art schools around the UK. The exhibition can now be seen at the ICA, London until 13 January 2013.
The John Moores Painting Prize, won this year by Sarah Pickstone, is the most celebrated contemporary painting prize worldwide, and presented at the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition continues until 6 January 2013.
Critical responses to Liverpool Biennial 2012 and its programme included:
“A winning theme in an exotic city, with some great new artists attached: this year’s Liverpool Biennial is a revelation.”—Sunday Times
“Biennials over the world tend to be identikit experiences. But Liverpool offers pockets of commitment and seriousness…as a glamorous backdrop for a European biennial of contemporary art; Liverpool on the river Mersey comes second only to Venice. Both are old ports with a city fabric reflecting a great imperial past. Both boast solid public museums—offset by a quirky art scene.”—Financial Times
“Where once the Venice Biennale was the only international art event of any significance, the Liverpool Biennial is typical of new breed of mega-exhibition that has grown up over the past two decades…Liverpool’s success is impressive…”—The Daily Telegraph
On John Akomfrah’s The Unfinished Conversation, a three-channel portrait of the life and times of Stuart Hall, part of The Unexpected Guest at The Bluecoat:
“Moving, beautiful, mournful and uplifting, talent met talent, words met images and post-war England met its wisest cultural thinker.”—The Guardian
Liverpool Biennial 2012
Sally Tallant, Artistic Director
The Unexpected Guest curated by:
Lorenzo Fusi, Liverpool Biennial
Rosie Cooper, Liverpool Biennial; Lucy Johnston, Liverpool Biennial; Laurie Peake, Liverpool Biennial; Sara-Jayne Parsons, Bryan Biggs, the Bluecoat; Omar Kholeif and Mike Stubbs, FACT; Jenny Porter, Metal Liverpool; Karen Newman, Open Eye Gallery; Moira Lindsay, Victoria Gallery & Museum; Ann Bukantas, Walker Art Gallery; the Royal Standard.
Sky Arts Ignition: Doug Aitken—The Source and Thresholds:
Sook-Kyung Lee, Tate Liverpool
Eleanor Clayton, Tate Liverpool
Jose Diaz, Tate Liverpool
City States and Public Programme:
Paul Domela, Liverpool Biennial; Vanessa Boni, Liverpool Biennial
The Unexpected Guest: Art, Writing and Thinking on Hospitality, edited by Sally Tallant and Paul Domela, a stand-alone companion to The Unexpected Guest exhibition, explores the theme with contributions from writers and artists is published by Art/Books, distributed through Thames and Hudson.
Thank you to everyone who visited Liverpool Biennial 2012. We look forward to seeing you at Liverpool Biennial 2014.