Liverpool Biennial 2021

20 March - 05 September 2021

Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest festival of contemporary visual art. Taking over unexpected and public spaces, historic sites and art galleries, the Biennial has been transforming the city through art for over two decades.

The 11th edition The Stomach and the Port featured work by more than 50 international artists across a programme of free exhibitions, performances, film screenings, workshops and more. 2021's theme explored the human body and how we connect with the world around us.

Three people are walking around a gallery space with paintings on the wall and sculptures on the floor.

In our galleries, we showed paintings by Jadé Fadojutimi, exploring how our identity is constantly being shaped by our environments, films by Laura Huertas Millán and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, and sculptural works by Roland Persson, Kathleen Ryan and André Romão, all of which propose ways in which we are connected to the world beyond our physical boundaries, considering ourselves as nature, not just part of it.

A large sculptural work depicting a rotting lemon, made out of many semi-precious stones.
Kathleen Ryan, Bad Lemon (Slice) (2020) Installation at Bluecoat. Photography by Rob Battersby.
A close-up of a large sculptural work. The piece depicts giant lily pads spilling out of a bath and onto the gallery floor.
Roland Persson, Mouth of Medusa (2018) Installation at Bluecoat. Photography by Rob Battersby.
Hear from the Curator of the 2021 Liverpool Biennial exhibition at Bluecoat Manuela Moscoso in this tour of our gallery.

The artworks suggest that we are not sealed off from our environment, but are porous. For example, our skin is porous and lets in moisture and other particles from our surroundings. But even hard, solid objects like rocks and concrete can be porous. When we recognise the constant exchanges between objects, plants and animals, we also reject the idea that humans are separate from nature. Instead, new and more equal relationships come to light.

On the exterior wall of our building along Blundell Lane we presented Jorgge Menna Barreto’s mural Mauvais Alphabet, featuring entangled drawings of common edible weeds found in Liverpool.

A large colourful mural is shown along Bluecoat's external brick wall, with a green bush in the foreground.
Jorgge Menna Barreto, Mauvaise Alphabet (2021) Installation view at Bluecoat, Blundell Lane. Photograph by Rob Battersby
A large colourful mural is shown along Bluecoat's external brick wall.

Barreto invited students from Liverpool John Moores University to explore the city centre looking for plant life, and to interpret what they found through drawing, painting or even performance. Working with local mural artist Anna Jane Houghton, Menna Barreto transformed the findings into the finished work, a large scale, colourful mural with entangled, zoomed-in details of the weeds the students chose. Mauvais Alphabet highlights often unseen and unwanted plant life in the city centre, while commenting on it’s vital role in the ecosystem.

The work is a culmination of Menna Barreto’s durational project Environment Sculpture, which also includes a publication, Enzyme #2 Life Systems. This publication features research into how our environment is shaped by what we eat and how we live. Find out more about Menna Barreto’s work here.

Take a virtual tour of the show below