I’ve just been back to Liverpool for the opening of the sixth edition of the Liverpool Biennial of Art. As always, it is grand in ambition and internationally focussed, while remaining absolutely rooted in the city. The unique aspect of the Liverpool Biennial is its enormous commissioning programme, where every two years, 40 or so artists are commissioned to make new site-specific pieces especially for Liverpool. The range and scope is enormous, although this year marks a change – fewer pieces in the public realm, and for the first time, five artists are showing work that has already been seen.
The Director, Lewis Biggs, generously gave me an interview, explaining that this year’s theme of Touched grew from his fury at the banking system that has been “issuing worthless promissory notes without any human value”. He insisted that the art must prove its worth by having an emotional impact on its audience and to communicate in relevant and accessible terms. There are indeed some very powerful works in this years Biennial – check out “The Temple of a Thousand Bells” by Laura Bellum; Alfredo Jaar’s piece in the Europleasure building, and “Touch and Go” by Cristina Lucas. There are a number of politically charged works, most notably “Recession” by Karmelo Bermejo and the curated mini-exhibition Re:Thinking Trade, which has advertising and consumerism in its sights. Although without any new insights, I always welcome old truths restated for a new generation.