Liverpool Biennial 2014 Open to the Public

Liverpool Biennial 2014 opened to the public on Saturday 5 July and remains open at venues across the city until Sunday 26 October.

The 2014 Biennial Exhibition, A Needle Walks into a Haystack, is curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman and takes place in a number of venues including the Old Blind School on Hardman Street, Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat, FACT, and St Andrew’s Gardens.

As part of A Needle Walks into a Haystack, a group show is presented in the centre of the city in the Old Blind School, a neo-classical building dating from 1932. Designed by Anthony Minoprio and Hugh Spencely, the building’s 1932 extension features art deco reliefs by John Skeaping, one of the leading figures of British modern sculpture in the mid 20th century.

Continuing our commitment to producing new work and this year, also inviting artists to show some of their previous projects, the Biennial group show includes work by Uri Aran (Israel), Marc Bauer (Switzerland), Bonnie Camplin (UK), Chris Evans (UK), Rana Hamadeh (Lebanon), Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet (France), Judith Hopf (Germany), Aaron Flint Jamison (US), Norma Jeane (US), Nicola L. (FR), William Leavitt (US), Christina Ramberg (US), Michael Stevenson (New Zealand), Josef Strau (Austria) with Stefan Tcherepnin (US), Peter Wächtler (Germany) and Amelie Von Wulffen (Germany).

Alongside the group show, A Needle Walks into a Haystack also features solo presentations:

  • A transformation of Tate Liverpool’s Wolfson Gallery by the legendary French architect, Claude Parent, one of the avant-garde’s most revered and radical figures. Slanted floors and ramps require that the audience experience the museum anew, in a plan devised through his theory of fonction oblique, and including works from the Tate’s collection by Anni Albers (Germany/US), Babette Mangolte (France), Gustav Metzger (Germany/UK), Francis Picabia (France), Gillian Wise(UK) and others. Visitors can also enjoy a new display in the second floor gallery featuring art from Tate’s collection including work by Ivor Abrahams (UK), Francis Bacon (UK), Patrick Caulfield (UK), Naum Gabo (RU / US) and Susan Hiller (UK).
  • An exhibition devoted to James McNeill Whistler at the Bluecoat includes a recreation of Whistler’s Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room, commissioned by the Liverpool-based ship owner F.R. Leyland. 
  • The first solo show in the UK of American artist and filmmaker Sharon Lockhart takes place at FACT, including a newly commissioned film which will premiere at FACT on 17 October.
  • St Andrews Gardens also hosts a series of screenings and conversations around the work of experimental Belgian TV director, Jef Cornelis. For A Needle Walks into a Haystack, Koen Brams (BE) has selected films by Cornelis for viewers to watch on televisions, not only introducing a UK audience to this importantand recalcitrant figure, but also serving as a place for conversations about what television can be and how this medium can be used to document and represent art.

As part of A Needle Walks into a Haystack there will also be an ambitious programme of talks, screenings and other events throughout the Biennial period. Over the weekend of 19-21 September, a programme of performances titled The Companion will take place, which will mirror and reflect on various times of the day: artists appear in cafés during breakfast, at bus stops during the morning commute, in a pharmacy during an afternoon errand, or in a theatre right after dinner.

Also featured as part of Liverpool Biennial 2014 are the John Moores Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Not all documents are records at Open Eye Gallery and Adrian Henri's Total Art at the Exhibition Research Centre at Liverpool John Moores University. In addition, there is work by artists and curators in solo and group shows and performances throughout the city, ranging from the artist-run space The Royal Standard to Metal and the Walker Art Gallery.

In parallel to the Biennial Exhibition, the Biennial also presents a co-commission with Tate Liverpool and 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary Commemorations. Venezuelan artist, Carlos Cruz-Diez, has painted a version of a ‘Dazzle Ship’, in partnership with National Museums Liverpool. The Edmund Gardner vessel, conserved in Merseyside Maritime Museum, has been ‘dazzled’ in a dry dock adjacent to Albert Dock Liverpool.

A highlight of the opening weekend was a major concert at Liverpool Cathedral on the evening of Saturday 5 July of a specially composed new work by Michael Nyman, Symphony No 11: Hillsborough Memorial. The piece was performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Liverpool-born mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and Liverpool Philharmonic Youth and Training Choirs, conducted by Josep Vicent.

To accompany the 2014 Biennial Exhibition, there is a publication co-edited by art historian Camille Pageard, and including new texts by the curators and by Keren Cytter (Israel), Angie Keefer (US), Hassan Khan (Egypt), Kari Larsson (Sweden), Eileen Myles (US), Lisa Robertson (Canada) and Matthew Stadler (US) with drawings by Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico).

View the 2014 programme