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Liverpool Biennial 2018: Artists Showing at Bluecoat

Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest international visual arts festival taking place over 15 weeks at Bluecoat and across the city’s public spaces, galleries, museums and online.

The 10th edition - titled Beautiful world, where are you? - invites artists and audiences to reflect on a world in social, political and economic turmoil.

Featuring at Bluecoat: Abbas Akhavan / Shannon Ebner / Ryan Gander (with Jamie Clark / Phoebe Edwards / Tianna Mehta / Maisie Williams and Joshua Yates) / Suki Seokyeong Kang / Janice Kerbel / Silke Otto-Knapp / Melanie Smith

Read on to find out more about the artists and the works they have created for Bluecoat.

Abbas Akhavan (b. 1977, Tehran, Iran) lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Akhavan’s practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video, sculpture, and performance.

For Liverpool Biennial 2018, Abbas Akhavan will present his large scale sculpture Variations on Ghost. The monumental sculpture makes reference to artworks destroyed by ISIS over last decade, in particular to the claws from Assyrian protective deities called Lamassu. Lamassu are half human half animal wax figures which were placed next to temple entrances, performing the role of guards over there. Using a technique called dirt ramming Akhavan recreated the claws of these ancient sculptures with soil, mesh and water. Over the exhibition period, the physical appearance and smell of the sculpture will change, similar to a public monument exposed to wind and weather.











Shannon Ebner (b. 1971, Englewood, New Jersey, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. Informed by various modes of reading, writing and poetics, Ebner’s work derives from a  combination of sources including poetry, experimental writing and found language. Shannon Ebner is developing a new photographic work. The piece will be exhibited on the ground floor of the Bluecoat, with a related sound piece in the gallery’s adjacent courtyard. The new piece will have a connection to Ebner’s STRAY (2017), a work comprised of photographs and readings by the American poets Susan Howe (b. 1937) and Nathaniel Mackey (b. 1947). Tailored to the exhibition space, the new commission will further explore Ebner’s forays into expanded forms of image making, and to drawing viewers attention to the sonic, phonic, and tonal medium of sound in relationship to the various graphic tones of photography.











Ryan Gander (b. 1976, Chester, UK) will work collaboratively and directly with five young people from Liverpool aged between 6 and 8 years old to produce a series of artworks for exhibition display.

Ryan Gander has devised a project called Time Moves Quickly. The artist is working collaboratively with five children from Knotty Ash Primary School in Liverpool (Jamie Clark, Phoebe Edwards, Tianna Mehta, Maisie Williams and Joshua Yates) to produce a series of artworks for a group exhibition, as well as a series of five bench-like sculptures at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.













Suki Seokyeong Kang (b. 1977, Seoul, South Korea) lives and works in Seoul. Kang uses various media including painting, installation, and video to seek a synesthetic expansion of painting methodology. She uses methods of painting to convey materiality, space, temporality and narrative as they form a visual (musical) score.

Suki Seokyeong Kang will create a new multi-part installation for Liverpool Biennial 2018. Land Sand Strand includes a new series of Well-Dig Zag works and is conceived as visual translation of the Korean musical notation ?Jeongganbo’. Jeongganbo is based on square units, so-called ‘Jeongs‘, which act as instructions for the musician. Using the logic of grid, the work will transform the exhibition space into a grid that connotes movement and narrative. The installation also builds on the concept of the Hwamunseok, traditional Korean woven mats, and is considered itself a new series of Mat Black Mat. The Mat Black Mat is interpreted as the minimal space each individual in society is provided with, the place where to stand and sustain one’s weight.














Janice Kerbel (b. 1969, Canada) lives and works in London, UK. Kerbel has explored a recurring theme of communication (and sometimes its absence) in the form of print, performance, light and most recently sound.

Fight is a series of silkscreen posters by Janice Kerbel located outside Bluecoat. Kerbel first choreographed an unarmed fight for a group of 12 individuals. Every action of the fight was recorded on sheets of paper the size of a body, using text in the area corresponding to the part of body where the impact is received. These drawings act both as recipients of action – becoming illegible with the layering of type – and a score for future action.














Silke Otto-Knapp (b. 1970, Osnabrück, Germany) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. At the center of the works of Otto-Knapp is the construct of the stage. Motifs range from choreographed groups of figures, historical stage sets, as well as pared down landscapes.

For Liverpool Biennial 2018, Silke Otto-Knapp has been commissioned to produce a new large scale work made for the fourth floor gallery of the Bluecoat. Like a classic frieze, the painting will wrap around the perimeters of the space combining figures in group formations with abstract panels. The painting will be accompanied by an artist book produced in collaboration with Stuart Bertolotti–Bailey which will be displayed in the historic women’s common room at the Victoria Gallery and Museum.









Melanie Smith (b. 1965, Poole, England) lives and works in Mexico City. Trained as a painter, Smith explores the extended field of painting within the history of art and its relation to the moving image.

Melanie Smith will present her new film Maria Elena at Liverpool Biennial 2018. The title of the film is taken from a hexagon shaped town of the same name which is situated in the Atacama Desert, South America; one of the world’s driest deserts. The settlement is connected to the oldest salt mine in Chile, a mine which was owned by the Guggenheim family in the 1920s. The film combines fragmented narratives of the colonial past and the dusty present of the salt mine.
















Liverpool Biennial 2018: Beautiful world, where are you? will officially launch on Sat 14 Jul and will run until Sun 28 Oct. To find out more about the other venues and artists, please click here


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