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HomeFeaturesEditorial: Art in Liverpool issue #32, July 2023

Editorial: Art in Liverpool issue #32, July 2023

Independents Biennial is in full swing but, weirdly, we kind of got to kick back this month. Plus, for the first time in six years, we can write about literally everything in the festival without feeling biased because it is all entirely artist-led.

Everything we’re seeing, we’re seeing for the first time (mostly anyway… but I’ll get to that), and that’s putting us in the shoes of you (the people we usually clumsily group together under a banner of ‘audience’).

I’ve missed this relationship with Independents Biennial, and I’m going to hold on to this feeling for as long as I can, but next month will be a little different. Basically, we’re trying to build an archive. Archives aren’t complicated, and 99% of the time, they’re automated, but we want this to be different. We want this archive to show, in the words of the artists of this city, and this region, exactly what they do and why they do it, now, in 2023.

Art has changed, and the landscape of how and where it’s made has shifted, but we’re generally still engaging with it in the same way. For so many of the artists in this year’s Independents Biennial there could be more direct ways to see and be with their work. For others, the traditional approach still works.

As most of this issue will tell you, material has become much more important in Liverpool’s art scene than I’ve ever known. How materials convey themes, but also how they hold a history and a cultural significance, which can both skew and highlight the ideas of the artist using them.

At this point, I’m not sure if this archive will be focussed on material, or look at the themes of Liverpool Biennial as a spring board for connective themes and a shared drive between the artists of this city. But right now, in June 2023, material is an unshakable theme flowing through the work of artists of all generations, and all abilities. Most of the reviews in this issue highlight that.

So, we’ve got about two months to sort this out and, honestly, it’s probably not going to work how we’re picturing it. But, it’s worth trying, so we’ll have a go.

Anyway, I’m steering away from the serenity of viewership, and into authorship, which I said I wouldn’t do (literally five paragraphs ago…).

Last Thursday, I got to see Fleece: Flow, a project I’ve been excited by for a few years, without ever actually having seen it, because Bridewell Studios & Gallery hosted Sian Hughes, the artist behind the project. On the same day, I floated around the city centre with some recording toys (360 cameras, dictaphones, etc. (I’m not sure what to do with the results yet). In the evening, I sat on the allotment, sheltering from the belting rain.

I’ve not enjoyed a gallery-day that much for years. Maybe it’s the relief of the change, or the shock of the new, but it felt different.

I’m not just bragging about my nice day out by the way, there is a point to this. I guess I’m just hopeful that the way I got to experience the works of these artists (all reviewed in this edition by new and regular writers) is the same way that the rest of their audience did. It’s joyful. Art is joyful. This festival is joyful.