Liverpool Biennial – Touched
18 September – 28 November 2010
Liverpool Biennial presents Touched, the International 10 exhibition as part of Liverpool Biennial 2010. Touched presents artworks that affect the viewer through addressing a total context (mind, body and place: relatedness in space and time); artworks whose investment and inscription in the particular and the personal affects the general and the social.
The exhibition Touched is the result of a curatorial collaboration between six curators, each of whom developed their own approach to the question as to how art moves us, and then selected artists whose work moved them in this way. They explain their approaches below.
A FOUNDATION | Curated by Mark Waugh
Artists: Sachiko Abe and Antti Laitinen.
Touched aims to explore the emotional affect of art. This has led to many discussions about how art can bypass some of the psychological frameworks that restrict our experience, so creating the possibility for an extraordinary and perhaps life-changing, certainly affirmative, experience. As Nietzsche said, ‘Art is redemption through illusion.’
We hope these commissions will be an inspirational experience that will draw audiences to repeat visits to see the works build and evolve over time and become part of a feedback loop. The process of feedback starts with a journey of ideas, the navigating of distances between thoughts.
BLUECOAT | Curated by Sara Jayne Parsons
Artists: Daniel Bozhkov, Nicholas Hlobo, Carol Rama and Ranjani Shettar.
The selection at the Bluecoat focuses on the broad question of how humans are privately touched by seeing or making art; how a moving experience stays with a viewer, for example, as a warm remembrance or a haunted half-dream; or, how an artist’s work is inspired through an understanding of what touches people. These artists employ strategies that revolve around the trace of memory and matter, identity and humour, and they often use familiar objects in unusual or unexpected ways. The kinship in their work suggests a glimpse of everyday situations from very different worlds. The global and the local collide, collapse and fuse through investigations of YouTube viral wit, urban regeneration and personal politics. Several of the commissioned works show the hand of the maker in a very direct way, presenting tactile qualities that highlight an intense (maybe obsessive) engagement with materials and the body. In this instance the work investigates an embodied debate about craft versus fine art. Can craft be more ‘touched’ than art?
FACT | Curated by Mike Stubbs
Artists: Tehching Hsieh, Kaarina Kaikkonen, Minouk Lim, Meiro Koizumi and Yves Netzhammer
FACT’s selection for Touched examines the affordance of one body, state, or situation on another. If the ultimate touch is the conjoined biological material of mother and foetus, the inevitable anxiety of separation forms the most fundamental metaphor of things coming apart, moving away, coming back together – touching.
This memory of being touched is carried with us in life, as the sense of parting and the tension created by it is progenitor of much meaning. As more of us live dispersed from our point of origin across other cities and countries, inevitably the imprint of touch becomes more significant as we also learn new virtualised ways to be touched and touch. This is not only technological.
In our conversations with all the artists here, the relationship with their own place of birth and mother had strong resonances. It’s the sense of trust, instilled at a young age, that enables artists to carve out their own meaning through experiments in time and space. Watch a baby test out proximity and distance, part of the preparation for independence later in life. Unconditional love has been fundamental to many of the works commissioned and displayed, and no more so than in the iconic work of Tehching Hsieh.
There is a Japanese expression about different types of snow affording different weights of step. The imprint is of course contextual – different people, states and materials can afford different pressures of touch. But what binds us together is our increasing need to find new ways to be touched, whether in body, spirit or mind and to remember what being touched feels like.
OPEN EYE GALLEY | Curated by Patrick Henry
Artist: Lars Laumann
We have commissioned Norwegian artist Lars Laumann to make a new film. Laumann is drawn to stories of unusual and remote objects of love or fascination. His films examine the internal work that goes into the construction of emotional attachments, and the boundaries between personal and social belief systems. The subjects of Laumann’s films could be regarded as ‘touched’ in the colloquial sense of being eccentric or unhinged. Our relationship with this territory is a central preoccupation of his work. In another sense we are touched, as viewers, by our precarious relation to the films’ subjects, by the shifting emotional dynamics of seeing and telling, watching and being watched.
TATE LIVERPOOL | Curated by Peter Gorschlüter
Artists: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Wannes Goetschalckx, Diango Hernandez, Jamie Isenstein, Eva Kotátková, Otto Muehl, Nina Canell, and Franz West.
Touched suggests not just the idea of being emotionally affected, but also an immediate sense of proximity, action and physical contact – aspects you would not necessarily expect to encounter in a museum or art gallery. For decades, however, international artists have questioned the idea that visual art should be static, sanctified, and presented on a wall or plinth to be viewed from a distance. Most notably, the idea that the work of art is imbued with an untouchable aura to be protected from physical and emotional engagement was questioned through the emergence of challenging and sometimes rebellious artistic strategies in the 1960s. The International exhibition at Tate Liverpool makes reference to this period in art history to explore the ways in which contemporary artists continue to respond to and build upon these ideas today.
Presented are artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Otto Muehl, and Franz West who came to prominence in the 1960/70s and who pioneered practices that explored the ways in which life could be unified with our experience of art. These figures are brought together with a younger generation of artists to reflect on the theme of ‘touched’ through a range of multifaceted manifestations. Conceived as a ‘sculptural happening’, the exhibition features on-going live interventions and appearances by artists, performing objects, as well as installations and sculptures to be probed and explored by the audience within the gallery. Whilst the new commissions for the International exhibition share the spirit of being ‘touched’, they are equally concerned with challenging and subverting the physicality and torpor of the object. More importantly the artworks in the exhibition explore the relationship between the tangible and the intangible, as reflected through the coexistence of absence and presence (Jamie Isenstein); enclosure and exposure (Wannes Goetschalckx); structure and its disintegration (Eva Kot’átková); the physical and the metaphorical (Nina Canell); and through proximity and distance (Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, and Diango Hernández). Tate Liverpool’s contribution to the Liverpool Biennial 2010 looks at poetic, subversive, intimate and up front moments where these opponents touch each other in the realm of the arts.
PUBLIC REALM | Curated by Lorenzo Fusi
Artists:Rosa Barba, Laura Belem, Emese Benczur, Danica Dakic, Song Dong, Alfredo Jaar, Will Kwan, Cristina Lucas, Tala Madani, Kris Martin, NS Harsha, Raymond Pettibon, Do Ho Suh, Ryan Trecartin and Hector Zamora.
The ambivalence implicit in the title of the exhibition (a chiasm insisting on a scheme of mutual reciprocity: who / what has touched whom / what and who / what is touched by whom / what?) provides the field of our investigation. Particularly in the public realm (where the distinctions between the makers and consumers of art are often blurred and their roles interchangeable) it’s very complex to assess who is the active agent and who’s the passive receiver.
The dystopic scenario that has resulted from the fall of ideologies and the deconstruction of faiths and belief, has redefined the relation between reality and art. But most significantly, it questions artists’ (and everyone else’s) authority. The impact and relevance of individual authority in most political and social processes of decision-making seem very limited, although the entire globe is slowly moving towards a diffused democratic sovereignty. What is it then that is still missing?
Even amongst the most radical fringes of political discourse and theoretical / philosophical thinking (i.e. Antonio Negri), the answer seems now to be: love. The reconciliation between art and a multifaceted understanding of love or affection (that doesn’t exclude its opposite, that’s to say hate) represents the core element of this section of the exhibition. A more holistic approach to life, that’s reflected in the enlarging mirror of art. “A painter speaks with his entire body, maintains Valéry. And, in fact, a Spirit that could paint has yet to be seen” (Maurice Merleau-Ponty).
Various venues – view the details
The Human Stain | Curated by Lorenzo Fusi
Artists: Oren Eliav, Tim Eitel, Y.Z. Kami, Csaba Kis Róka, Edi Hila, Aime Mpane, Markus Schinwald and Zbynek Sedlecky
This part of ‘Touched’ is a visual and emotional journey that progresses through the inner labyrinths of the Self. We proceed through it by degrees, penetrating the different layers that separate the notion of collectivity from the Freudian Id – the rioting sphere of the unexpressed or repressed Self. These degrees are envisioned as short stories to be read either as a continuous narrative or separately. Each step of this journey towards the intimacy of the Self is titled after a book that somehow suggests an atmosphere or state of mind. The sequence unfolds as follows:
The Cement Garden (Zbynek Sedlecky)
Confessions of a Public Speaker (Oren Eliav)
One, No one and One Hundred Thousand (Aime Mpane, Y. Z. Kami)
The Anatomy of Melancholy (Edi Hila)
The Seed of Lost Souls (Tim Eitel)
Naked Lunch (Csaba Kis Róka, Markus Schinwald)
Venue: 52 Renshaw Street, L1 4PN
Tel: 0845 220 2800
Open: daily 10.00–18.00
Re:Thinking Trade | Curated by Lorenzo Fusi
Artists: Minerva Cuevas, Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, Daniel Knorr, Meschac Gaba, Karmelo Bermejo, Freee and Lee Mingwei.
Since the social activism of the 1960s, many artists have taken a critical stance towards both capitalism and the dominant consumerism of ‘advanced’ societies. Bypassing, resisting, or intervening in the mechanisms of late capitalism, they have sought to make ‘socially relevant’ art that works outside or against the constraints of capitalism and consumerism, returning producer and consumer to a more human relationship.
Re:Thinking Trade proposes to touch the city through ‘art re-appropriation’. Disused retail spaces will be revived as temporary venues for art-projects. Newly conceived artworks (and some existing ones not previously presented in the UK) will offer the viewer, or ‘customer’, a wide range of experiences and a variety of alternative ways to trade their time and attention in exchange for a benefit. At times the benefit will be a tangible product. More often it will be a ‘gift’ from the artist, more ethereal and impalpable: an intellectual or emotional device to touch the recipient’s general wellbeing or self-perception.
Venue: 52 Renshaw Street, L1 4PN
Tel: 0845 220 2800
Open: daily 10.00–18.00
Catedra Arte de Conducta | Curated by Lorenzo Fusi
Founded by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera in 2002, Catedra Arte de Conducta was an informal institution dedicated to producing a new generation of Cuban artists. Concentrating on live art, the Catedra used the city and its social realities as its creative material. The school is now closed: its inclusion in ‘Touched’ will represent the last and conclusive chapter in its history.
Art touches a city most effectively when a personal change (in response to an artwork) is collectively experienced. If this change in self-awareness empowers people to take action and responsibility for their lives and their environment, art has touched the city in its complexity. To make something that is at once political and poetic remains very difficult indeed. We hope that in Liverpool the Catedra will provide a range of responses to this challenge, and also show how the notion of embodiment can shift into that of emplacement to introduce art, people and place to each other effectively.
The Catedra Arte de Conducta will investigate two themes: the utopian city / ideal society; and the legacy of American performance artist Allan Kaprow, through the reinterpretation of one of his seminal works. The project will be a blank canvas at the time of the opening, unrolling through the exhibition period. Gradually, different actions by the twenty artists involved will sediment and accumulate, taking the shape of a group show in progress. Polyphonic, inclusive, self-reflective, analytical and critical, experimental, engaging, stimulating, anti-monumental, fluid: these are some of the words to define this idea. The guiding principle is not to provide a preset response, standing there for all to admire, but to show the processes and intimate motivations behind making and thinking.
Venue: 52 Renshaw Street, L1 4PN
Tel: 0845 220 2800
Open: daily 10.00–18.00
Liverpool Biennial 2010 is bigger than ever before.
As well as Touched, the International 10 exhibition, it includes the following programmes:
Bloomberg New Contemporaries – the very best from up-and-coming artists’ studios throughout the UK presented at A Foundation, Greenland Street.
City States – International exhibitions on the cultural dynamics between cities and states, presented at Contemporary Urban Centre.
John Moores Painting Prize 2010 – the UK’s leading contemporary painting competition, presented at the Walker Art Gallery.
S.Q.U.A.T. Liverpool 2010 : a collaboration between No Longer Empty and The Art Organisation (TAO) – re-animating of abandoned premises around the city centre.
The Cooperative – an initiative jointly run by leading artist-led studios and collectives, Arena, Red Wire, The Royal Standard, Sound Network, LSSSS, Jump Ship Rat and Mercy.
There will also be a host of fringe activity under the banner of the Independents, providing an inspiring and diverse mix of exhibitions and events by internationally established as well as national and local young and mid-career artists.
The festival also includes a series of complementary programmes including Liverpool Biennial’s year round work – such as Richard Wilson’s Turning the Place Over – which will be highlighted in the Guide, published in September.
For full details on Liverpool Biennial, visit the website