Liverpool Biennial, the bi-annual contemporary art show, opened this weekend and runs until Sunday 25 November. Launched by a performance from legendary guitarist, Rhys Chatham, conducting 100 electric guitar players in the Anglican cathedral, the Tate, Bluecoat and The Royal Standard venue among others opened their doors for one of biggest, free and best-attended art shows in Europe. Our resident critic, Laura Mansfield, explains why as she chooses three shows to highlight the breadth and quality of work on display.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 

Housed on the ground floor of a former Royal Mail sorting house (pictured), this concrete cathedral is the where this year’s selectors (Nairy Braghramian, Cullinan Richards and Rosalind Nashashibi) have brought together a range of diverse works including recent RCA graduate Bryan Dooley’s bright, clean photographs which reference contemporary sportwear advertising campaigns, Emanuel Röhss’s grade-shaded paintings and Simon Senn’s interactive, video installations, where keys allow you to jump between scenes and viewpoints. Each of the works seem to share and emphasis on colour and light as well as something of a playful interest in each of their diverse subject matters. You can book onto a free tour of the building which has opened to the public for the first time for the Biennial (LJMU Copperas Hill, Copperas Hill, L3, Mon-Sun, 10am – 6pm, free,

City States

Also in the somewhat dizzying interior of LJMU Copperas Hill Building, the Biennial’s City States exhibition presents 13 pockets of space filled with works by each of the invited ‘city states’, for a show that considers connections between the state of cities and the future of states. Of particular note is the work in the Lithuianian City Vilnius’s state section. The giant Black Pillow by artists Audrius Bucas and Valdas Ozarinskas fills the width of the building, a looming yet inviting mass of soft inflatable rubber. On the opposite side of the vast space is the city state of Gdansk. Taking the title of ‘unwanted visitors’, Gdansk’s contribution includes a film work by Yael Bartana. Mary Kozsmary (Dreams and Nightmares, 2007) is the first in her Polish Triology, a series of films that examine 19th and 20th-century Europe as a historic homeland for Ashkenazi Jews. The entire triology is currently being shown at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham under the exhibition title Europe Will be Stunned (LJMU Copperas Hill, Copperas Hill, L3, Mon-Sun, 10am – 6pm, free,


Tate Liverpool’s contribution to the Biennial, running until April 2013, sees a group show including a selection of documentation from Sophie Calle’s 1981 Hotel series. Split into three sections addressing British identity, mobility and migration and the politcal and cultural reverberations of regional conflict, look out for Martin Parr’s photographs, video work by the forementioned Yael Bartana (Kings of the Hill, 2003) and work by Gilbert & George as part of the show. You can also see Anthony McCall’s Column, a pillar of smoke rising from the docks, from the Tate Liverpool. The artist is giving a talk about this new, inter-disciplinary work at 5pm on Saturday 17 November. Click here to book.  (Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4BB. Tel: 0151 702 7400, Mon- Sun, 10am-5.50pm,

Sat 15 Sep - Sun 25 Nov
Laura Mansfield
Published on:
Sat 24 Nov 2012