An installation view of Doug Aitken's Migration 2008
Doug Aitken Migration 2008
Installation view, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

American artist Doug Aitken will create a ‘field of ideas’ outside Tate Liverpool as part of this year’s Biennial, which runs from 15 September to 25 November

He will work with British architect David Adjaye to build a temporary structure in which will be shown films of his interviews with prominent creative figures from the worlds of art, cinema and music. The work is the first commission in the Sky Arts Ignition series, funded and supported by the broadcaster.

The project is about the roots of creativity and ‘a sense that there really is no separation between music, art, film and architecture,’ explains Aitken. ‘I think these things are completely linked together, and there’s really a commonality in the creative process and the sharing of these ideas. I want the installation to be a destination, I want it to be a place one can go to and walk into these ideas. It’s like a field of ideas.’

Now in its seventh incarnation, the boost given to the Biennial by Liverpool’s Capital of Culture status in 2008, can still be felt. It now attracts over half a million visitors and is the UK’s biggest and most important international art event.

As well as events at Liverpool’s many galleries and museums, the Biennial takes art out into the city. This year’s highlights include a shipping container wedged precariously in Liverpool’s streetscape, a lift bursting up through the floor of the shopping centre, and a slightly ajar but unopenable VIP entrance.

Inside Tate Liverpool, you’ll find the free exhibition Thresholds, which addresses the Biennial’s theme of ‘hospitality’ by looking at works from the Tate collection which deal with British identity and migration. Artists including Keith Arnatt and last year’s Turner Prize nominee George Shaw raise questions about ‘quintessentially British’ notions of beauty and tranquillity, while Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger address the political nature of images constructed and distributed by the mainstream media.

New venues this year include the magnificent Cunard Building, one of the Three Graces that define Liverpool’s skyline, which will host work by Mona Hatoum, John Akomfrah and others. Also making its debut is the vast former Royal Mail sorting office on Copperas Street, in which you’ll find the Bloomberg New Contemporaries show of young British artists, and the City States exhibition of 60 artists from around the world.

Sally Tallant is the festival’s new artistic director. She says: ‘Moving from London to Liverpool is amazing: it feels like everything and anything is possible here… As a city outside of London, we can be a test-bed for new thinking, the place where art can happen and is produced… where things can be done that could not be done anywhere else.’

The 7th Liverpool Biennial runs 15 September – 25 November 2012.