Open Eye Gallery: Liverpool Biennial, by Kayleigh Davies

Photograph by Kayleigh Davies

The first clue that the Open Eye Gallery was going to be different under the influence of the Biennial was obvious by the new, vibrant front of house decoration. Sinta Tantra’s Together Yet Forever Apart (2012) transforms the façade of the gallery and creates a stunning visual effect not only to the art space but also to the Mann Island area.

Inside the gallery, Kohei Yoshiyuki’s work catches the guest’s eye. Explicit in content, the work is curated intelligently enough to make it serious in subject matter. As you enter Yoshiyuki’s first solo exhibition in the UK, you are faced by four televisions stacked together in a cube formation showing frozen images of videos the artist made during visits to a park in Tokyo.

The second gallery was in complete darkness and required guests to use a torch to examine The Park (1971) selection. It is interesting to note that this series came from the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York and has obvious celebrity of its own due to its controversial nature. The use of the small light to physically see the images causes every viewer to understand the position of the photographer whilst the photographs were being taken, creating empathy and deepening their experience.

It is interesting to consider here the original larger scale of the images being viewed in the same way: how would this influence our experience?

Upstairs in gallery three, Mark Morrisroe shows a unique set of collage works, using his own scan images mixed with images chosen from porn magazines. Reading about the history of the artist adds context to his work; text on display in the gallery reveals that Morrisroe was thirty years old when he passed away tragically after suffering with an aids-related illness. Morrisroe created the majority of his works in a temporary darkroom he had created for himself in a hospital bathroom, acknowledging his need to create and release the emotions he was feeling during such a tumultuous time.  The slapdash application in Morrisroe’s work represents his emotions and the sense of hurry in his use of techniques to the viewer.

The exhibition is a curatorial success and certainly leaves a lasting impression on guests, we certainly feel like ‘the unexpected guest’ here.