This is your ten day warning. You have exactly that time to either a) concoct some sorry-ass excuse as to why you never found the time to immerse yourself in the Biennial, b) go make up for lost time, follow our recommendations this weekend and see what you can, or c) go say a final goodbye to your favourite pieces, and show you care for those New Zealand students tirelessly dipping paper into water baths for the past two months.
This year’s Biennial needed your attention. It’s been a festival full of sly treasures, hidden hot spots and seductive corners – and, for the most part, those corners have been silent: allowing a meditative encounter with art, in silent warehouses, colonnaded office blocks and windy couryards of the docks.
This wasn’t the year for big twinkly spiders and red sheds blaring ABBA tunes. But then, this really wasn’t the time for it, either. And so we were treated to quiet, contemplative and meditations on place, space, and belonging.
And, by and large, we loved it. So, if you’ve not found the time, we strongly suggest you, at the very least, find space in your calendar, before November 25, for our favourite seven…
NO TITLE, Munro, Duke Street
Wonderfully discombobulating installation that is part hotel, part existential angst (which, by and large, is the same as Holiday Inn Express, but without the Priority Clubcard points). We love Markus Kåhre’s theatrical, and mind-melting above-the-shop piece, hovering in another dimension, handily above the Munro, on Duke Street.
REFRACTION, Copperas Hill
You know that weird thing that happens when you put your arm into a bath, and it looks like you’ve fractured your wrist? No? Just us? Well, anyway, imagine that as you venture inside this room-set come submerged world. Don’t focus on the little details, unfocus your eyes (you know, like you did with those Magic Eye pics in the 90s) and let this magical piece wash over you. Kudos to artist, Jorge Macchi.
THE UNFINISHED CONVERSATION, Bluecoat.
Akmomfrah’s non-traditional bio-pic of cult cultural theorist Stuart Hall is a moving and important testament to Hall’s life and theories of race and identity that maintains the warmth, generosity and relevancy for which he is known. Hall’s voice is familiarly hypnotic: you may not know the name, but you’ll have been engaged in conversation with his theories for some time. This conversation is definitely unfinished and is sure to be taken up by other venues, join in now and be part of its beginnings.
PRESENT TENSE, Cunard Building
All the more pertinent this week, grimly, Mona Hatoum presents an authentic sense of place that’s as geographical as it is spiritual. Her carpet of olive oil soap cakes infuses the air with that sweet, musky smell of the Mediterranean. If home smells this good, you think, you’d lay down your life for it too.
Tiny glass beads, pressed in the soap, mark out the territories meant to be handed over, from Israel to Palestine, after the Oslo accord – yet still being ‘settled’ upon.
The Biennial singlehandedly proved they do care in the community with passion, and elan with 2Up2Down and its regeneration of the old Mitchell’s bakery in Anfield. A long-term community project examining the devastating effects of regeneration in the area, Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk’s, acclaimed piece merits a special visit, and a permanent place on the map.
THE PARK, Open Eye
Together with his grim Love Hotel (1978), Kohei Yoshiyuki’s The Park, offers a furtive tumble through the backwaters of Japanese society (pic r: copyright the artist) Black and white images are exhibited in a black, unlit cube – you navigate it with an underpowered pocket torch. As your eyes adjust to the low light levels spectral images appear – of couples humping in hedgerows, a stilettoed heel emerging from a bush, legs akimbo under a tree, spectators crouched and mesmerised by the midnight show.
FUN AND GAMES, Fact
The games in the foyer at FACT can’t fail to bring a smile to your face. Especially when you realise that the dazed and limp tramp the students are tossing up in a make-shift blanket trampoline is actually just a stuffed-up mannequin. Phew. And none of us are too old for a good pillow fight, are we? Fun? In the Biennial? Thanks FACT.
And, of course, there’s the Pavilion at Tate (a flawed execution from Doug Aitken and David Adjaye, but worth straining for some of the interviews), the delicate and beautiful silk screenprints telling of cross-border communication between North and South Korea in City States, the excellent John Moores exhibition at Walker Art Gallery, the inspired film programme at FACT, the gorgeous Chinese scroll paintings at The Bluecoat, the curious archives of Making Chinatown, and the spirited parallel universe of the Independents Biennial…
Until 25th November
Search #Biennial2012 on Twitter for the latest top tips on what to see/do.
All exhibitions are open 10AM-6PM daily. Free.
Free guide here
Main pic: Jane MacNeil