Liverpool Biennial 2016

  • 9 July 2016 - 16 October 2016

In Gallery 1, we present works by Krzysztof Wodiczko, who uses technology and prosthetics to explore themes of immigration and displacement, as in the immersive installation Guests. Lucy Beech’s new film Pharmakon (in Gallery 2), co commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and FACT is an interpersonal drama that explores health anxiety and self diagnosis in an era of mass communication. And in the foyer, Yin-Ju Chen's Extrastellar Evaluations considers humanity from an extraterrestrial point of view. 

The Flashback episode  features a selection of works spanning the 50 year career of Krzysztof Wodiczko, who is known for creating artworks to empower marginalised communities including immigrants, veterans and the homeless, giving light to societal injustices. Wodiczko defines ‘flashback’ as the sudden re-emergence of memories, characterised by psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Wodiczko’s 2009 installation Guests, originally commissioned for the 53rd Venice Biennale, forms central part of the exhibition, reflecting, in this new context, on the current migratory crisis and debates around immigration. This large scale installation creates the illusion of windows, through which the viewer can see immigrants interacting with each other and exchanging remarks about their situation and problems, seemingly outside the gallery space. Here, Wodiczko plays with cultural displacement, and the social invisibility of this marginalised group.


Examples of Wodiczko’s continuing work with military veterans will be showcased, including the prototype device Veteran Helmet (2015), created to aid veterans suffering with PTSD to share their experience of the condition. Documentation of The War Veteran Vehicle (2009), originally commissioned by FACT, will also be exhibited. For this project, an active military vehicle, fitted with a video projector and PA system, was used to create the appearance of words being fired onto the surface of public buildings and monuments. The project contributed to the creation of FACT’s award-winning Veterans in Practice programme, which aims to encourage local ex-servicemen and women to get involved in creative projects, and provides support for them to integrate with the wider community.


Other works presented at FACT will include the Homeless Vehicle Project (1988-89), where Wodiczko workedwith members of the homeless community in New York to create tools to aid their survival and communication. Another vehicle on display, Podium (1977-1979), is a platform for speaking, propelled forward by the strength and passion of the orator.

Lucy Beech’s new film, Pharmakon, co-commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and FACT, is presented as part of the Software episode, which points towards an understanding of technology stretching beyond its strictly functional use. Instead, it highlights technology’s ability to allow us into imaginative worlds.


Beech’s video and performance works often consider how emotions are instrumentalised in a capitalist context, especially exploring female group dynamics and public intimacy. Usually focused on female group dynamics, her practice uses choreography and disrupted narrative structure to explore public intimacy and competitive vulnerability.


Involving women in all aspects of her new commission, Beech’s new film explores experiences of health anxiety, and the management of abnormalities. Pharmakon is an interpersonal drama that explores health anxiety and self diagnosis in an era of mass communication, and engages with marginal communities that seek support via online networks – here, connectivity is both poison and cure.


In the foyer, Yin-Ju Chen’s Extrastellar Evaluations brings together evidence of Lemurian presence on earth. The land of Lemuria sank into the ocean thousands of years ago, but its natives have been living invisibly amongst us ever since. In the 1960s, some of them re-emerged using the identities of conceptual artists, and Extrastellar Evaluations considers the impact of this defining era on humans and Lemurians alike. Yin-Ju Chen’s primary medium is video, but her works also include photographs, installations and drawings.

Exhibition Activity Pack: Liverpool Biennial 2016

Available 9 July – 16 October / 11am - 6pm daily / FREE to collect from the Information Desk in the foyer / Suitable for ages 7+


Get more from the exhibition with our family-friendly activity pack! Designed to make contemporary art accessible for children, these resources will guide you through the galleries and encourage your kids to interact with the artworks and themes in our exhibitions. 


This special edition, created for Liverpool Biennial 2016, teaches children to search for meaning as well as objects, and to think (and talk) about the way they feel when they encounter art.

Pick up a Liverpool Biennial 2016 Festival Guide at our information desk on the ground floor in the foyer, where you will find details of the whole festival.


Alternatively, download the digital version here.


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