Liverpool Biennial 2018 - Beautiful world, where are you?

Liverpool Biennial 2018 - Beautiful world, where are you?
14 July 2018- 28 October 2018

Location: Along the Red Wall, first floor

Liverpool Biennial is the UK biennial of contemporary art. Taking place over 15 weeks across the city in public spaces, galleries, museums and online, Liverpool Biennial commissions artists from around the world to make and present work in the context of Liverpool. The 10th edition Beautiful world, where are you? invites artists and audiences to reflect on a world of social, political and economic turmoil.

The artistic concept and title derives from a 1788 poem by German poet Friedrich Schiller, later set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The years between the composition of Schiller’s poem and Schubert’s song saw great upheaval and profound change in Europe, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Today the poem continues to suggest a world gripped by deep uncertainty; a world of social, political and environmental turmoil. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way.

Liverpool Biennial 2018 will celebrate 20 years of presenting international art in the city and region.

Exhibitions at the VG&M

Paul Elliman (Ground Floor, Waterhouse Cabinet)

Paul Elliman (b. 1961, London, UK) lives and works in London. His work follows language through many of its social and technological guises, in which typography, human voice and bodily gestures emerge as part of a direct correspondence with other visible forms and sounds of the city. Elliman is a visiting tutor for the MFA Voice Studies programme at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.

For Liverpool Biennial 2018, Paul Elliman has worked with Sara De Bondt and Mark El-khatib on the graphic identity, using letter-like shapes and symbols gathered as part of a durational work – a ‘found font’ – that Elliman calls The Day Shapes. Pursuing the mechanisms of language as a mode of economic production, Elliman has spoken about how the origins of his work with object letters began in thoughts about the path of his father’s migration: from the Merseyside car industry (1962–1978) via a year in Detroit in 1979, to California’s Silicon Valley, where he worked at Apple as a production engineer from 1982–2005.

Joseph Grigely (First Floor, Red Wall)

Joseph Grigely will show works from his Songs without Words series at Victoria Gallery & Museum. Based on newspaper images of singers and musicians, the works explore the representation and communication of sound. Taken from the New York Times, the series features images of people such as the opera singer Andrea Bocelli, or the American singer and actor Eartha Kitt. By removing the captions accompanying the images, Grigely points towards the significance of contextual information. Without the captions, the singers’ poses concentrate our attention on their ambiguity, as if we are watching the world with the sound turned off.

Brendel Plant Models (First Floor, Gallery 1)

World Museum’s storerooms house a vast natural science collection and associated archives. In one room there is a cabinet containing an amazing collection of botanical models, manufactured by R. Brendel & Co. of Berlin, c1900.These models were used in museums and universities to illustrate and demonstrate plant anatomy. They are the result of scientists and artists collaborating to produce beautiful working tools for the communication of science.Brendel sculpted the models using papier-mâché. Other additional materials, including glass, gelatin and feathers were added to illustrate particular features. The subjects are depicted in a variety of different scales, ranging from the macroscopic to the microscopic. Many of them come apart to show their inner structures - fitting together like a floral version of a Russian Doll. This display contains a selection of the museum’s collection of over 200 plant models. For more details see

Silke Otto-Knapp (First Floor, Gallery 2)

Silke Otto-Knapp will display two paintings accompanied by an artist’s book produced in collaboration with Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey. At the centre of her works is the construct of the stage and motifs range from choreographed groups of figures, historical stage sets, as well as pared-down landscapes. 

Francis Alÿs (First Floor, Gallery 4)

Francis Alÿs will present a selection of postcard size paintings at Victoria Gallery & Museum. Executed in the tradition of classic plein air painting, the paintings also allude to the condition of global tourism of our contemporary art scene. Many were done while scouting new locations for future film projects, from the Middle East to South America or China. 

Aslan Gaisumov (Second Floor, Tate Hall Museum)

The single-shot video People of No Consequence (2016) documents the gathering of a group of elderly men and women, all survivors of the 1944 Soviet deportation of the Chechen and Ingush nations to Central Asia.

Holly Hendry (Second Floor, Tate Hall Museum)

A selection of sculptures from her Gut Feeling series.  Hendry is interested in defining the architecture of spaces by exploring the possibilities, such as surface, colour and density, inherent in a wide range of materials through her installations.

Ari Benjamin Meyers (Second Floor, Tate Hall Museum)

Ari Benjamin Meyers (b. 1972, New York, USA) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Meyers received his training as a classical musician, composer and conductor at The Juilliard School, Yale University, and Peabody Institute. His works as an artist, such as Symphony 80 and Solo for Ayumi (both 2017), explore structures and processes in music composition and relationships between performer and audience. His diverse practice includes creating musical performances for the stage and exhibition spaces. He has collaborated with artists such as Tino Sehgal and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster; bands including Einstürzende Neubauten and Chicks on Speed; and classical ensembles like the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble.

Meyers’ main installation for the Biennial is a film-work at the Playhouse theatre that focuses on four contemporary musicians from Liverpool: Bette Bright (singer with Deaf School), Budgie (drummer with Siouxsie and the Banshees), Ken Owen (Carcass) and Louisa roach (She Drew the Gun).

Taus Makhacheva  (Second Floor, Tate Hall Museum)

Taus Makhacheva (b. 1983, Moscow, Russia) lives and works in Moscow, Russia. Despite being born in Moscow, Makhacheva’s cultural origins are in Dagestan, which often informs her practice. She works with different media including installation and performance, but is predominately known for her videos, often exploring notions of truth relating to cultural authenticity and assimilation following the Sovietisation of Dagestan. Her video piece Tightrope (2015) is a complex work that plays on the delicate relationships between art history, politics, past and contemporary culture. It interrogates notions relating to cultural authenticity and assimilation following the Sovietisation of Dagestan.

Worlds within worlds

Liverpool’s history as a port city embraces moments of great prosperity as well as charting postindustrial decline and postcolonial histories. As part of Liverpool Biennial 2018, Worlds within worlds invites audiences to explore the rich histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections and architecture.

Selected objects and collections - Victoria Gallery & Museum

A selection of objects and collections are highlighted for visitors, including the Scrimshaw collection – works of art that were carved from tusks and bones; zoological exhibits; the Waterloo Teeth collection; and the world’s first scientific best-seller from 1665, Micrographia by Robert Hooke.

Display of the Brendel Plant Models of World Museum - Victoria Gallery & Museum

A display of anatomical models of plants, made for display and teaching purposes by the Berlin firm of R Brendel & Co in Germany around the turn of the 20th century, is also presented here.

Download the Biennial kids trail for free!


Autism Awareness

Please note that in some areas such as the Tate Hall Museum there are low light levels where video installations are playing.