Yoko, ABBA & Jarvis Cocker - Biennial Build-Up Begins

By David Prudames | 20 August 2004
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Shows a photograph of the waterfront in Liverpool. Across a small stretch of the River Mersey are the three graces, three imposing stone buildings.

Once one of the country's most important ports, Liverpool is building itself back up with culture and heritage at the forefront. Courtesy National Museums Liverpool.

The UK’s largest festival of visual arts, the third Liverpool Biennial, kicks off next month and promises a packed programme set to turn the entire city into one giant art gallery.

Running from September 18 until November 28, this year’s event promises to be as big, bold and brash as ever with contributions from Yoko Ono, a house on the Mersey dedicated to ABBA and a gallery show with paintings selected by Jarvis Cocker.

"Liverpool Biennial gives an adrenaline boost to the bloodstream of the city, one dose every two years," said Lewis Biggs, Biennial Chief Executive.

"This year the Biennial has built on the successes of the past two events, to bring to Liverpool the very best in contemporary art from across the world. Liverpool residents and visitors from wherever can enjoy art within and beyond the museum walls and can even become part of the UK’s largest visual arts event."

Shows a photograph of several brightly coloured Biennial leaflets.

The Biennial is supported by afoundation, Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the European Union through the Merseyside Objective One, European Regional Development Fund.

Kicking off proceedings will be the announcement of the winner of the John Moores 23, the UK’s longest-running open painting competition, which is organised by National Museums Liverpool.

Hosted by The Walker Art Gallery since 1957, the John Moores show celebrates the vitality of contemporary British painting and is open to artists living and working in this country.

The winner gets £25,000 and this year the competition is being judged by a panel including musician Jarvis Cocker, The Walker’s Fine Art Curator, Ann Bukantas and artist Gavin Turk.

Other major gallery shows will take place at Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat Arts Centre and FACT. But it’s not just the big guns; smaller galleries and alternative spaces all over the city will be turning it into one big exhibition.

it's definitely a winner - Super Star F*****, Andy Warhol Text Painting, Peter Davies

Super Star F****r - Andy Warhol Text Painting (detail) won top prize at the John Moores show in 2002 for artist Peter Davies. Who will it be this time around?

Last time around an artist turned a gigantic statue of Queen Victoria into a hotel room, while Marc Quinn created a rainbow in the vast former Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead.

In 2004 you can expect just as much in terms of both scale and imagination. The International 04 will see commissions by 40 artists from all over the world whose work has an affinity with Liverpool culture go on display.

We’re promised a 30ft iceberg inside a World Heritage building, a mirrored ballroom complete with chandeliers and new work by Yoko Ono to be visible throughout the city…

And, of course, that’s not to mention other Biennial staples such as Bloomberg New Contemporaries (chosen this year by Curator Kate Bush and artists Dinos Chapman, Tacita Dean and Brian Griffiths) and Independents 04; a platform for the region’s artists to exhibit their work, as well as showcase art from the UK and abroad.

Shows two photographs side by side. One depicts a man standing at a petrol pump holding the nozzle, while in the other a man stands in exactly the same pose, but is in front of a racing car and is wearing a racing driver's outfit.

Bewitched (Seoul) 2001 by Yeondoo Jung, a Korean artist who will be contributing to this year's International 04. Courtesy the artist.

As City Council Leader Mike Storey CBE explained, the festival is even more relevant now that Liverpool is to become the European Capital of Culture.

"Liverpool Biennial was one of the main reasons behind our Capital of Culture success and will be at the heart of our plans for 2008," said Mike, "its development and growth is striking."

"It mirrors the regeneration and new confidence of the city. The Biennial gets under the skin of the city’s character in so many interesting ways. It examines and expresses all the weird and wonderful things that make Liverpool so unique."

For full details about all of the artists, exhibitions, events and talks at next month’s festival, visit the Liverpool Biennial website.

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