Public RealmTRACE

TRACE was a thematic exhibition that brought 61 international artists from 24 countries worldwide to realize their work in Liverpool. Liverpool’s geographical location as a port, and its social, economic and political histories in relation to the rest of the world, make it an ideal starting point from which to explore the theme of the trace in contemporary art. Given this context, the exhibition was ideally positioned to investigate the opportunities as well as the dilemmas of international cultural exchange.

TRACE was conceived with the specific conditions and architectural opportunities of the city in mind. By occupying many venues across the city centre it ensured that visitors could discover the rich character of Liverpool as they experience the art. The exhibition could be traced from the old Cathedral and The Oratory to the Tate Gallery on Albert Dock. Walking down the hill from the Cathedral one encountered installations in the University of Liverpool and John Moores University, the Open Eye Gallery, Bluecoat Arts Centre and the Exchange Flags. Along the way there were also many site-specific works in reclaimed locations, including St John’s Shopping Centre and Lewis’s Department Store.

The theme TRACE suggests materials or objects that allow us to reconstruct histories through our personal memories and associations. This was an exhibition full of tangible experiences. Many of the artworks were highly sensual, using sound, smell and touch as well as vision. Art that employs the concept of TRACE encourages every experience of the work to be personal, thereby ensuring constant renewal of its meaning with every encounter. Many of the artists involved in the exhibition revealed specific histories and views of the everyday through their installations. Others looked inward, examining the nature of consciousness, memory, loss and desire. In each case the viewer was invited to enjoy the diversity of approach while also discovering the common threads that make up TRACE.

Anthony Bond