Tate Liverpool Ground and Fourth floor galleries
16 September – 26 November 2006
International 06 is one of three strands that make up Liverpool Biennial 2006 and takes place in venues across Liverpool, responding to the personal readings of Liverpool made by consultant curators Gerardo Mosquera and Manray Hsu. Housing the largest body of work in International 06,beyond the public realm, the artists at Tate Liverpool are some of the most exciting working today, with most making new work specifically for the exhibition.
Mosquera is struck by how the city developed with Europe’s expansion and imperial enterprise. His reaction is to symbolically reverse the direction of colonisation by proposing artists’ practices from the Americas and Asia to engage with the city’s post-imperial present. Hsu is concerned with the flow of energy through the built environment, and has proposed a number of commissions to be placed at nodal points, which he terms ‘archipuncture’: acupuncture for the built environment.
Tate Liverpool’s position physically relates to the visions of the two curators, bridging the ideas of both. Half the Gallery overlooks the River Mersey, the historical source of the city’s wealth and trade that Mosquera wishes to reverse. The other side overlooks the Dock complex and city – the urban environment and energy channels Hsu seeks to release.
Visitors will encounter Waylay by Brian Tolle (New York) outside the Gallery.Waylay awakens ghostly traces of the Dock. Submerged in the water, the work exists as a series of sporadic splashes, some playful, like a child skimming stones, and some more sinister, as if something were falling from above. The work reminds us of the former use of the dock and its significance.
The building itself is the subject in Affirmation, a sound piece by Julianne Swartz (New York). Anonymous voices address us as we walk around the gallery. By invading our subconscious, we become aware of the building as a highly active presence in a work that questions our relationship to public buildings and the conflicting messages they can convey.
Monica Bonvicini (Berlin) is one of the most important artists working today. Her spectacular installation will fill the ground floor gallery. Three dimensional letters made from smashed safety glass spell out ‘BUILTFORCRIME’. Lit from within, the work has a beauty that conflicts with the violence of its text and mode of production.
Jun Yang (Vienna) presents a new film. Incorporating footage of property throughout Merseyside, it offers a new chapter in the ongoing story of a prospective urban utopia. The film is a never-ending sequence of beginnings and promises of what could be. Yang’s personal narration, transforms the film into an allegory of universal aspiration.
Toba Khedoori (Los Angeles) creates monumental paintings on paper of isolated architectural details. The process of making is as important as the subjects depicted. Covered in a layer of wax before the paint is applied, all actions (smudges, mistakes, footprints, dog hair) are embedded in the picture’s surface. Each work occupies the entire field of vision, implicating the viewer in the artist’s anonymous worlds.
Esra Ersen’s (Istanbul) film and installation uses the current redevelopment in Liverpool to examine how cities experience change in their identity as a result of urban regeneration. Critical of how changes are made to cities, Ersen has created a metaphor for this process by giving a makeover to a long-standing resident of Liverpool – changing her façade without consultation.
Tsui Kuang-yu’s (Taipai) Liverpool Top Ten evaluates the function of the mundane elements of urban infrastructure – parking bollards, central reservations, roadside railings. Creating new road signs that subvert the function of these spaces, his films document the residents of Liverpool running amok as a cobbled street becomes a foot massage facility, and a parking barrier becomes a place to train your dog.
Composed from the signs of South Central Los Angeles, Mark Bradford’s (Los Angeles) collage Los Moscos consists of hundreds of fragments of torn printed paper – posters, flyers, packaging. The entire collage resembles an aerial view or map. The intricacy of the work’s composite parts contrasts with recording the iconography of a city in the micro and the macro
Simryn Gill’s (Sydney) Garland also exists as a collection of objects from another time and place. Collected over fifteen years from the beaches of Malaysia and southern Singapore, the objects are worn by wind and sea; they can seldom be defined by their original state or function. The audience is invited to sort the objects, creating a new set of hierarchies that is continually updated.
The Route by Chen Chieh-jen (Taipai) documents the events surrounding the Liverpool Dockers dispute in 1995, when those protesting at the casualisation of labour were dismissed. The film follows the story of the Neptune Jade, a cargo ship refused entry into ports by dockers around the world in support of their colleagues in Merseyside. The ship eventually sailed to Taiwan, the artist’s native country, where it was disbanded and sold.
In Fabric of Memory, Lee Mingwei (New York) reveals how personal histories may be captured by objects. Lee has invited local residents to lend handmade textiles made by a family member during childhood. Both maker and receiver will provide a history of the item, the memories they have of giving or wearing it, and the feelings it evokes. The viewer is invited to share in their memories.
In his search for new value in the everyday, the work of Shimabuku (Berlin) begins with simple, often surreal ideas that are meticulously realised and documented. His film for the Biennial documents the fictional first encounter between the fish and the chip, showing a potato embarking on a dramatic underwater tour of Liverpool.
Teresa Margolles (Mexico City) is concerned with the procedures and rituals that surround death – what the artist refers to as ‘the life of the corpse’. Her sculpture surrounds the viewer with the almost physical traces of death and its memory. Water used to wash bodies in a morgue in Mexico City has been shipped to Liverpool and will slowly drip on a hot metal plate beneath it.
The exhibition concludes with Philippe Parreno’s (Paris) investigation of the relationship between art and society. Parreno subverts our expectations of exhibition spaces by animating the static architecture of the gallery. Visitors reach what appears to be a dead-end, but on closer inspection, the shelf that blocks the path rotates to reveal a further display space. The shelves hold DVDs to be taken away by the visitor, yet the disks rapidly oxidise once removed from their sleeves, limiting their functional life. We seek information, are told to watch a video, but even this becomes futile.
Notes to Editor
Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008