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Democratic Promenade

  • Fri, 30 Sep 2011 - Sun, 27 Nov 2011
  • 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Responding to 2011’s Liverpool: City of Radicals theme, this exhibition draws on cultural and political narratives from the past century and asks what constitutes radical art practice today? The theme is prompted by events 100 years ago that had a profound cultural, architectural and political impact: a seminal exhibition by the Post-Impressionists at the Bluecoat, the opening of the Liver Building, controversial in its design and cast-concrete fabrication, and the transport strike that brought the city ‘near to revolution’. The title Democratic Promenade is taken from Walter Dixon Scott’s description of the Landing Stage in his 1907 book Liverpool.

It represents a coming together of business and pleasure, the city’s wealthy merchants mixing with its urban poor, Europeans heading to a new life across the seas, and sailors from around the globe dropping anchor on Merseyside. 

Works include a new film commission from David Jacques, The Irlam House Bequest, interrogating political threads and fictions across time. Oliver Walker’s installation Mr Democracy, features 1,000 dolls imported from China, programmed to recite an imagined British constitution written by Chinese law students. Brigitte Jurack evokes Arthur Dooley’s ‘lost’ Speakers’ Podium originally at the Pier Head to propose new spaces for public protest, and Alan Dunn with Derek Horton, Michael Jenkins and Sam Meech re-presents and updates the Bluecoat’s 1997 ‘Sgt Pepper Tableau’ with contemporary visionaries and crowds. 

There are rarely seen paintings by Liverpool artist Roderick Bisson who had a dialogue with European modernism in the 1930s and 40s. John Davies’ photographs comment on privatisation of public space, whilst Dave Sinclair’s document the 1980s School Students’ Strike when thousands took over Liverpool in protest at incoming job creation schemes.

Nina Edge’s fabric works include the batiq An Eye for An Eye, concerning India’s Bhopal disaster in 1984. There is documentation of Jeremy Deller’s Bluecoat-commissioned Acid Brass, in which two ‘democratic’ musical forms, brass bands and acid house, collided, and material from Adrian Henri’s early 1960s performance work, the UK’s first ‘happenings’. Other artists include Pavel Büchler, Pete Clarke, Dorothy, Albert Lipczinski, Donald Lynch, Brian O’Toole, Visual Stress, Rose Vickers, Graham Williams and Peter Walsh.

With support from Liverpool City Council groups from across the city have nominated their own radical heroes and immortalised them through a set of banners made working together with textile artist Claire Bates (aka Landbaby). Displayed in the hub during Democratic Promenade, the banners celebrate a range of figures including Ken Dodd, Robert Tressell and the Communiversity.

Free, no ticket required.

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