In Focus: Liverpool Biennial Opening Weekend

Posted on 8 July 2014 by Liverpool Biennial

A Needle Walks into a Haystack Exhibition, 2014. Photographs by Mark McNulty.

A Needle Walks into a Haystack Exhibition, 2014. Photographs by Mark McNulty.

On Thursday 3 July, Liverpool Biennial 2014 opened to the press and arts professionals from around the world, with the doors thrown open to the public just two days later. Since then, we have enjoyed floods of visitors all weekend and look forward to welcoming many more the next 16 weeks.

Liverpool Biennial 2014 includes the 8th Biennial Exhibition, entitled A Needle Walks into a Haystack, which features a group show in The Old Blind School, a neo-classical building dating from 1932. This year, amongst new commissions, artists have also been invited to show some of their previous projects. The Biennial group show includes work by Uri Aran (IL), Marc Bauer (CH), Bonnie Camplin (UK), Chris Evans (UK), Rana Hamadeh (LB), Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet (FR), Judith Hopf (DE), Aaron Flint Jamison (US), Norma Jeane (US), Nicola L. (FR), William Leavitt (US), Christina Ramberg (US), Michael Stevenson (NZ), Josef Strau (AT) with Stefan Tcherepnin (US), Peter Wächtler (DE) and Amelie Von Wulffen (DE).

STRAUTCHEREPNIN, A Metaphysical Store, 2014. Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2014. Photograph by Mark McNulty.

Alongside the group show, there are also four solo presentations at venues throughout the city. Legendary French architect Claude Parent has transformed the Wolfson Gallery at Tate Liverpool using slanted floors and ramps and an exhibition devoted to James McNeill Whistler at the Bluecoat includes a recreation of Whistler’s Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room. Elsewhere, the first solo show in the UK of American artist and filmmaker Sharon Lockhart takes place at FACT and at St Andrews Gardens visitors can flick through television channels to explore for the first time in decades the work of experimental Belgian TV director, Jef Cornelis. 

"The decision to get the nonagenarian French architect Claude Parent to transform the ground floor of Tate Liverpool was inspired" Mark Hudson, The Telegraph

Read the full Telegraph review of the exhibition here.

Following two days of Biennial previews, the opening party took place at Camp and Furnace in collaboration with the Kazimier. With a drinks reception followed by the main party, guests enjoyed entertainment from the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band and music all night long from local DJs within the specially redesigned environment which featured multiple screens, a hidden whiskey den and a pop up food market.

Read our interview with the event's curator Andrew Ellis.

Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, image by Pete Carr.

The following morning, we welcomed the public into all of our exhibition venues. As well as the chance to see the Biennial Exhibition, visitors enjoyed a talk with James McNeill Whistler expert Margaret McDonald, and a series of artist talks hosted by co-curators Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman at the Liverpool Medical Institute. There will be a further events series taking place here over the course of the festival, entitled Drinks With

"The final movement, reclaimed from cinema’s clutches, proved a fitting finale complete with a wonderful, shimmering wall of sound" Catherine Jone, Liverpool Echo

On Saturday afternoon, the Biennial took over Liverpool Cathedral for the world premiere of Michael Nyman's Symphony No.11: Hillsborough Memorial. Following a private recital for the families of the 96, the evening performance welcomed members of the public to listen to Nyman's new symphony, performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Josep Vincent and with Liverpool-born mezzo soprano Kathryn Rudge and the RLPO Youth and Training choirs. Read the Liverpool Echo review here.

Michael Nyman's Symphony No.11: Hillsborough Memorial at Liverpool Cathedral. Photograph by Mark McNulty.

Throughout the opening weekend, Islington Mill took up residency in local venue The Black-E with their project #TemporaryCustodiansOf. Read a review of the project here.

To view the full image gallery of highlights from the opening weekend click here.

Liverpool Biennial continues until 26 October, so make sure to keep up to date with our packed programme of events throughout the festival.