Liverpool Biennial 2008 Announces Commissioned Artists

20 September – 30 November 2008

Announcement of artists commissioned for International 08 exhibition

Celebrating 10 years of commissioning ambitious and challenging new work by leading international artists, the fifth edition of Liverpool Biennial’s International exhibition is MADE UP, an exploration of the power of the artistic imagination.

MADE UP sees imagination (called ‘invention’ in the 18th century) as the dynamo of art. At the heart of this exhibition’s broad ranging exploration of ‘making things up’ (which includes utopias and dystopias, narrative fiction, fantasy, myths, lies, prophesies, subversion and spectacle) is the emotional charge which powers the artistic imagination. Whether mischievous, constructive or iconoclastic, MADE UP is about art’s capacity to transport us, to suspend disbelief and generate alternative realities.

Liverpool Biennial continues to place an emphasis on commissioning new work from leading and emerging international artists. Artists currently in conversation with Liverpool Biennial towards a new commission for MADE UP include:

Ai Weiwei (China), Atelier Bow Wow (Japan), Guy Ben-Ner (Israel), Manfredi Beninati (Italy), David Blandy (UK), U-Ram Choe (Korea), Adam Cvijanovic (USA), Nancy Davenport (Canada), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA), Leandro Erlich (Argentina), Rodney Graham (Canada), Tue Greenfort (Denmark), Hubbard & Birchler (Ireland/Switzerland), Jesper Just (Denmark), Otto Karvonen (Finland), Yayoi Kusama (Japan), Ulf Langheinrich (Germany), Gabriel Lester (Netherlands), Annette Messager (France), Tracey Moffatt (Australia), Khalil Rabah (Palestine), Royal Art Lodge (Canada), Sarah Sze (USA), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Richard Woods (UK).

Curated collaboratively by a team drawn from partner galleries and the Biennial under the artistic directorship of Lewis Biggs, MADE UP is explored in a series of themed inflections presented across multiple sites, in galleries and public spaces throughout the city. MADE UP at the Bluecoat explores imagined futures, individual and collective, utopian and dystopian; Tate Liverpool and Open Eye Gallery consider the ambiguous territory between the real and the unreal; FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) focuses on the power of the mind to make up meaning when faced with complete abstraction and extreme sensory deprivation.

The public realm projects continue to be a defining feature of Liverpool Biennial, with over half of the 30-40 commissions situated in the public realm. MADE UP outside the gallery allows fiction to rub up against the real, inviting artists to carve out space for the imagination in the everyday, whether in imaginary models made manifest as real examples, or playful re-workings of the real.

A series of major new public art projects commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in partnership with the Culture Company as part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Programme will be on show in the city and its neighbourhoods at the same time as MADE UP.

Lewis Biggs, Director of Liverpool Biennial said, “There are too many artists content with making footnotes to what you read in the newspapers. Whatever happened to the pleasure of pure fantasy? Imagination is the engine of change. MADE UP is an exhibition for people who get enough reality every day and want something different from art. A show to get you journeying through parts of the imagination you haven’t visited before. A show to make you smile, and to think about what isn’t.”

Peter Mearns, Executive Director of Marketing at the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), said, “Liverpool Biennial has established itself as a key date in the UK’s visual arts calendar and a flagship event for the region. England’s Northwest has a wealth of creative talent and it is testament to the region’s creative spirit that we can attract so many leading international artists to work with us. I am very much looking forward to the 2008 Biennial, which in Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture promises to be one of the best yet.”

Liverpool Biennial 2008
* The programme for Liverpool Biennial 2008 festival of contemporary visual art will be presented with The Walker (National Museums Liverpool), The John Moores Exhibition Trust, New Contemporaries, and A Foundation at Greenland Street. It will involve many smaller city centre galleries and alternative spaces.

* The curatorial team for MADE UP is Lewis Biggs and Sorcha Carey (Liverpool Biennial), Bryan Biggs and Sara-Jayne Parsons (the Bluecoat), Mike Stubbs and Karen Allen (FACT), Patrick Henry (Open Eye) and Laurence Sillars (Tate Liverpool).

* The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is supporting the Biennial’s commissions of art by European artists over a three-year period until 2010. Known as the Gulbenkian European Commissions, this major award to Liverpool Biennial reflects three of the Foundation’s main interests: the making of adventurous new artworks, working with an established organisation outside London, and promoting a pan-European perspective.

* Established in 1998, Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest and most widely reviewed festival of contemporary visual art, and contributed significantly to the award of the title European Capital of Culture 2008 to the city of Liverpool. It is a major player in the cultural economy: the 2006 festival received 400,000 visitors, 50% travelling from outside the Merseyside region. The event created an additional spend in the city of £13.5m