Biennial on tour

Artwork commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial heads out into the wider world between programmes, opening it up to new audiences

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The next Liverpool Biennial festival of contemporary art does not start until July 2018 but artworks commissioned by the Biennial are touring for the first time at six locations across the north.

The works are by artists who use many different types of media to reflect the complex world we live in, and include sculpture, architecture, video, music, sound, technology and performance. Some are interventions into public spaces, others reworkings of significant historical events and cultural productions.

The tour has launched at Touchstones in Rochdale with a live performance of Dogsy Ma Bone by Turner-prize nominated artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. This play – and the film created from it – was inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s 1928 Threepenny Opera and 1930s cartoon character Betty Boop’s A Song A Day. However, it was created with and for children and young people, who reinterpreted the narrative and songs. The film, presented alongside handmade animal costumes and props from the performance, will be on show at Touchstones until July.

Other participating arts organisations and venues include the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley, In-Situ in Brierfield near Burnley, Pavilion in Leeds, Bury Art Museum and the Turnpike in Leigh, which will host artworks by Biennial artists throughout 2017 and until the programme for the 2018 Biennial is announced.

Artists include Japanese film-maker, musician and artist Koki Tanaka, who restaged the Liverpool Students’ Strike of 1985 with some of the original participants for the 2016 Liverpool Biennial. Tanaka is working with Pavilion, an arts organisation that presents events and commissions site-specific works, including videos and films.

“We are a small organisation that exists outside the traditional gallery space,” says Will Rose, producer at Pavilion. “Like the Biennial, we produce work that unfolds across diverse sites around the city. This is a great opportunity for us to work with them and welcome an international artist to Leeds.

“The plan is for Tanaka to spend some time in Leeds developing a work that will parallel the piece he produced for the Biennial, but this time taking its cue from Leeds’ own rich cultural and political heritage. We expect his work to involve aspects of performance and the moving image.”

Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre will host work by Céline Condorelli, Audrey Cottin and Rita McBride in the Sculpture Centre from April to September and by Mark Leckey in the Moving Image Gallery until May.

Krzysztof Wodiczko, a Polish artist who works with marginalised individuals and communities, will display work at In-Situ from May until June.

Mark Leckey’s video installation Dream English Kid 1964-1999 AD will be at the Turnpike from June to August, and a mural and a vase by American ceramic artist Betty Woodman will be displayed at the Cooper Gallery between January and March.

“Biennials reveal stories of the city in a way that exhibitions in one locale can’t,” says Sally Tallant, director of Liverpool Biennial. “We have a responsibility to engage with people and there’s no reason why Liverpool Biennial can’t have another life somewhere else and enable artists to tell different stories in different places.

“We are taking not just the art but also the artists, and this creates a ripple effect. The conditions are always different and it affords opportunities for everyone to learn and change. So even though some of the works are site specific, by taking them on tour, the artists have to adapt to new spaces and respond to new audiences.”

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