In Focus: Liverpool Biennial 2014 Opening Party

Posted on 3 July 2014 by Liverpool Biennial

Concluding two days of press and professional previews is the Liverpool Biennial opening party. An occasion to celebrate the launch of the festival with our friends and colleagues from around the world, this year's event is held at Camp & Furnace and features an atmospheric mix of sounds and visuals. 

We caught up with event producer Andrew 'Samizdat' Ellis to find out more about the event and how it relates to the Biennial Exhibition.

Tell us in a few words what to expect from the Biennial opening party.

Expect the party to be a celebration of Liverpool. A step away from that which is celebrated from afar, the Beatles and The Football, the party will be a glimpse into today's Liverpool: everybody involved is embedded within the artistic community of the city in one way or another. The Kazimier is a cornerstone of the independent arts community in Liverpool but those travelling from outside of the city may not be fully aware of it. With this in mind there'll be a number of live music acts picked from their roster punctuating the night and adding a sense of spectacle to the occasion. In between, we didn't want to take the standard 'gallery-house' DJ approach so we'll be working with a number of the city's resident DJs to ensure there's a chance to dance.

Can you talk us through the process of organising the event?

We spent the first few weeks around the table really getting to the essence of what people want from an opening party. We needed to ensure enough quiet space, seats and sustenance for the weary folk following a long day of private views as well as the opportunity for those involved to really let their hair down and celebrate the launch. There will also be a screen showing the World Cup semi-final as football is of course the noblest of the arts. I think we've managed to work out the perfect balance for everybody to enjoy their night.

You set out to create something different, to use the environment of Camp & Furnace in a new way. How big a task has this been?

We've all spent time working with Camp & Furnace over the past few years - it's come a hell of a long way since the last launch party which was actually the first event they ever hosted. Their Food Slam Friday events are always great so we've based the event around that format, great food, great drinks, conversation and music. We've taken this format and run with it, closed off the street (fingers crossed for sunny skies) and built in a bespoke AV rig. We wanted to highlight the beauty of the architecture that the space provides but augment it with incredible visuals.

Can you tell us more about the original visual art that has been produced for the event?

When I was first offered the job of coordinating the entertainment for the launch, I decided almost instantaneously that I wanted AV to be a big part of the event. I spend a fair chunk of my time touring around international arts and music festivals with a Merseyside-based electronica artist and have seen the huge difference that well produced AV can make to an event. With this in mind I immediately got in touch with Sam Wiehl of Hive Collective and The Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia to put together an AV commission suitable for the event. He then approached Venya Krutikov of the Kazimier and we set about putting together a brief for the content. We've built a series of bespoke screens into the Furnace space to augment their already existing array of screens and Sam and Venya will take our commissioned footage and use it to form the base of their AV set throughout the night.

How does the concept behind the opening party tie in with the theme of the exhibition?

A needle walks into a haystack and orders a perfect rye Manhattan whilst listening to a light/sound reactive drum ensemble. The needle leaves at 3am and wakes up with a hangover.

For more photos, news & views from Andrew Ellis, follow him on Tumblr and Twitter