Biennial Review in Frieze

Review by Jonathan Griffin in frieze.com

The real gem of the biennial, however, was to be found in Greenland Street’s vast Furnace gallery, for which Goshka Macuga’s ambitious Sleep of Ulro (2006) had been commissioned. Drawing on William Blake’s Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1820), from which its title is taken, the work also galloped through references from German Expressionist cinema and somnambulism to botany, magic and Theosophy.

Zooming walkways and platforms provided three alternative routes through the space, respectively corresponding to heaven, hell and purgatory, each articulated by mesmerizing groupings of art works and artefacts borrowed from artists and local museums alongside live performance on the opening night.

The work was successful precisely because it did not presume to tell the people of Liverpool about the past and the future of their city, instead retrieving value from its overlooked corners and revealing a cultural richness that is neither hastily incubated nor flown in via John Lennon airport.

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