Biennial – Touched at Tate Liverpool

Embryology - Magdalena Abakanowicz

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Biennial-touched-100

All photos by Minako Jackson

It’s been several weeks since the opening day of the Biennial when I looked around the exhibition at the Tate and my notes have long since disappeared but I do remember I thought it was good, maybe more so than some of the previous Biennial Tate offerings.

The ground floor space is entirely taken up with Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Embryology which far from being a new piece is 30 years old. I like it but thought it looked a bit sparse, I’d like to have seen more dense piles of these cocoon like shapes (like the picture in the catalogue).

Up on the top floor (which is FREE for once, please note and take advantage!) there a lot of intriguing works. I enjoyed walking through ‘Passage (Project: Another Country)’ byAlfredo and Isabel Aquilizan – all these islands and boats built from cardboard boxes by schoolchildren and other members of the community in the weeks leading up to the exhibition. Whilst out of the window you can see the real thing on the Mersey and Pier Head and it’s here that a bouy is transmitting the noise of the river to be picked up by a radio in the gallery as part of  Nina Canell‘s work ‘On Thirst: Bouy’. She also has several glass tubes containing water from the river taken at various depths – 250cm, 500cm, 750cm etc. and a shelf holding various round objects, one of which is levitating! Some electromagnetic magic going on there.

It may not be obvious to all visitors but you are invited to interact with Franz West’s ‘Smears’ sculpture which looks like a giant worm filling the centre of the gallery. Well, you can sit on it anyway, not much else you can do. But you must resist the temptation to interact with Jamie Isenstein‘s ‘Empire of Fire’ in the adjacent room. Yes, that is the artist’s hand poking out of the end of the fire hose, she flexes her fingers every so often. She’s sitting behind that wall for the entire 10 weeks of the Biennial. The rest of the room has a large installation with many candles which has a slightly (perhaps too slight) surreal feel to it.

There are several recent ‘action’ paintings by Otto Muehl who apparently is a big name but, sorry, I don’t like them at all.

Another quirky (for want of a better word) performance based piece is Wannes Goetschalckx‘s ‘Without’. I don’t think he is there all the time and you can’t always be sure anyway. If you look through the window of the large cube space you may, as we did, catch a fleeting glimpse of him re-arranging the internal boxes before squeezing into one of them for a nap.

It’s amazing what Diango Hernandez has managed to create from a lot of old chairs, I love the way the chair-backs are arranged to form a sort of stairway to the skies whilst next to this is a far more cluttered arrangement by Eva Kot’átková who evokes all kinds of childhood memories especially the real horror of school-life. Part of her work includes interviews with children and adults relating their life stories – not my sort of thing, I prefer the visual impact of the furniture arrangements and the architectural models.

So, yes, a lot to see and think about, worth taking a second look (did I mention it’s FREE?)

Tate Liverpool – Liverpool Biennial: Touched
18 September – 28 November 2010

Touched, the International exhibition for the 6th Liverpool Biennial, celebrates a decade of bringing new art to the UK through curatorial collaboration. Conceived as a ‘sculptural happening,’ Tate Liverpool’‘s exhibition features on-going live interventions and appearances by artists, performing objects, as well as installations and sculptures to be explored by visitors. Artists include Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Wannes Goetschalckx, Diango Hernandez, Jamie Isenstein, Eva Kotátková, Otto Muehl, Nina Canell, and Franz West.

Eva Kotátková
Eva Kotátková
Wannes Goetschalckx
Wannes Goetschalckx
Diango Hernandez
Diango Hernandez
Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan
Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan
Jamie Isenstein
Jamie Isenstein
Otto Muehl
Otto Muehl
Franz West
Franz West
Nina Canell
Nina Canell
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