In many ways, it is fitting that I sit and write a review of the Bluecoat’s latest installation, as part of their Biennial strand, in one of the most tumultuous periods in Liverpool football history, during a period when the stakes have never seemed higher for either club.
Daniel Bozhkov first came to Liverpool in 1986, almost 25 years ago, and with the piece ‘Music Not Good for Pigeons’, he set about attempting to examine the changes that have occurred in the city in the intervening years.
A near full-size replica of the Liverpool Football Club dressing room houses the installation, made up of a number of (initially) bewildering constituent parts.
After a cursory glance around the changing room (decked out with cheap non-LFC shirts and a scabby looking treatment table), I plonked myself down next to a big stuffed panda, eyes cast toward the youtube mega-hit which you may know as ‘sneezing Panda-Cub’, wherein the cub does its thing and mummy Panda jumps out of her skin. Much hilarity ensues.
Forgive us if we come across overly snarky here, but so far, so underwhelmed.
And then our attention is drawn to another screening. It features interviews with The Militant Tendency, a Trotskyist faction of the Liverpool Labour Council which clashed so bitterly with the Thatcher government between 1983 and ’87.
This, if not a game changer (if you’ll pardon the pun), does change the context of the piece enough to reconsider initial perceptions. For starters, it puts into perspective the sheer importance and cultural significance of having a successful football club to follow during a time of otherwise dire straits for a city effectively on its knees during those years.
So that’s one part of Bozhkov’s mystery unravelled, but what of the Panda viral? Given ‘Music Not Good for Pigeons’ purports to deal with discrepancies in the city between his first visit in ’86 and his time spent here on several occasions this year, you could say that an internet phenomenon scoring millions of hits throws into stark relief the legacy, if you can call it that, of a largely forgotten far left group.
Riddle solved? Well to this correspondent’s satisfaction; maybe. Perhaps though, it’s simply a blanket opinion on the state of popular culture in 2010 and what meagre offerings we’re prepared to accept.
Consider for a moment this is the case, is Bozhkov simply dishing up the culture he thinks we deserve? Whatever the conclusions one draws from the piece, first impressions are hard to shift, and we’re left pondering whether this isn’t just another example of overtly gimmicky work.
The Bluecoat, until 28 November
School Lane, Liverpool