The 10th edition of Liverpool Biennial, Beautiful world, where are you? invites artists and audiences to reflect on a world in social, political and economic turmoil.
The title for Beautiful world, where are you? derives from a 1788 poem by the 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 in 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.
Over 40 artists from 22 countries will present work that responds to the call Beautiful world, where are you? The city of Liverpool provides the setting which takes place in public spaces including, galleries, museums and civic buildings. Audiences will encounter contemporary art as they navigate Worlds within worlds and the rich histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections and architecture. Liverpool’s history as a port city recounts moments of great prosperity as well as charting post-industrial decline and post-colonial histories.
Worlds within worlds activates artworks and artefacts and bring histories and historical perspectives into the present and in dialogue with work by contemporary artists. Audiences are invited to navigate a selection of paintings and objects at the Walker Art Gallery including George Stubbs, David Hockney, Augustus John and Joseph Wright of Derby; a rare complete edition of Birds of America by John James Audubon (1785-1851) at the Central Library; the Haida totem pole at the World Museum; and a collection of anatomical plant models made by the Berlin firm of R. Brendel & Co in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. During the Biennial tours of the collections will be organised, as well as events, including a revelation of the magnificent Minton tile floor of St George's Hall concert hall by CR Cockerell and the presentation of the Civic Silver in the Town Hall.
The Biennial is presented in locations across Liverpool including public spaces and the city’s leading art venues: Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab, the Oratory, RIBA North, the Liverpool Playhouse theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum (University of Liverpool), and Blackburne House.
Also showing as part of Liverpool Biennial 2018 are partner exhibitions John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery, Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Liverpool John Moores University's School of Art and Design, and the Biennial Fringe.
In 2018, Liverpool Biennial celebrates 20 years of presenting international art in the city and region. It is also part of Liverpool 2018, a thrilling year-long programme which celebrates the city's culture and creativity a decade on from European Capital of Culture.
Liverpool Biennial 2018 is curated by Kitty Scott (Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario) and Sally Tallant (Director, Liverpool Biennial) with the Liverpool Biennial Team.