Liverpool Biennial 2010 „Touched“
published in: in: ARTPULSE, Spring 2011, Vol. 2 No. 3, p. 84

People tend to complain about the high prevalence of video works on recent biennials and other major exhibitions. If you were already somewhat dizzy of all the videos on the most recent Berlin biennial, then this year’s Liverpool biennial will probably cause some headaches. Its programme means strain, even for passionate video art lovers, but it’s worth the effort. For example the video „Grand Organ“ by Düsseldorf-based artist Danica Dakić: Placed in a tower of the Liverpool Cathedral, it amalgates the organ, a children’s choir, and Liverpool’s impressive St. George’s Hall to captivating images about innocence, guilt, the individual and the collective, accompanied by a most exquisite sound.

Within walking distance – right next to the “Black-E”-building where Belgian artist Kris Martin has installed a gigantic sword hanging from the ceiling – lies the vacant “Europleasure Hotel”. Here Alfredo Jaar’s very moving 3-channel-video „We wish to inform you that we didn’t know“ is projected for the first time. It’s about the genocide in Ruanda in the nineties and so saddening that, after having seen it, one doesn’t feel like seeing anything else at all – so it’s not really perspicious that the curators installed Cristina Lucas’ lighthearted video „Touch and Go“ right next to it. No doubt, it’s otherwise perfectly situated in the abandoned hotel lobby with its black painted windows, since the video features middle-class people throwing stones from the street through the windows of the building. After all vacant buildings with dead windows are one of Liverpool’s most striking characteristics. Eventually the holes in the windows read the slogan „Touch and go“ which refers to the title of the biennial: „Touched“. (One cannot think of anything more general.) Unfortunately, neighboured to Alfredo Jaar’s poignant plea for sympathy Cristina Lucas’ somewhat witty slogan rather appears cynical.

Besides the many reliable Liverpool institutions for contemporary art – Tate Liverpool, The Bluecoat, A Foundation, FACT, Open Eye Gallery –an abandoned department store in the city is the centre of the biennial. The basement is occupied by the ludicrous „Trill-ogy Comp“ by US-American performance and video artist Ryan Trecartin, to be seen from a picnic table or seats of an aeroplane. Wilde theatrical settings, fast editing and digital aesthetics make, at the same time appealing and appalling, images of broken identity in nowadays media and consumerism hysteria.

The ground floor provides a discovery: the paintings (acrylic on canvas) by czech artist Zbynek Sedlecky – his apparently light-handedly painted images of airport waiting lounges, skyscrapers or urban landscapes might be even able to soothe some minor headaches.

until 28.11.10, 10-6, various locations, Liverpool