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Melanie Smith

Melanie-Smith. Maria Elena, 2018/ Photo-Julien-Devaux

The 10th edition of Liverpool Biennial, the largest festival of contemporary visual art in the UK, opens to the public on Saturday 14 July 2018 marking its 20th anniversary with exhibitions, performances, film screenings, family events and talks. The Biennial runs for 15 weeks until 28 October 2018 across Liverpool’s public spaces, galleries, museums, civic buildings and online.

Spread across the entire city of Liverpool, more than 40 artists from 22 countries are represented in the programme, responding to the theme Beautiful world, where are you? set by lead curators Kitty Scott (Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Art Gallery of Ontario) and Sally Tallant (Director of Liverpool Biennial).

In the words of the lead curators, “The Biennial asks Beautiful world, where are you? – a question derived from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller. Today the poem continues to suggest a world gripped by deep uncertainty; a world in social, political and environmental turmoil. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that might be shared in a more equitable way.”

Beautiful world, where are you? is presented in locations across Liverpool including public spaces, civic buildings and the city’s leading art venues: Blackburne House, Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, the Oratory, the Playhouse theatre, RIBA North – National Architecture Centre, St George’s Hall, Tate Liverpool, Victoria Gallery & Museum (University of Liverpool) and online.

There are a number of public artworks on display throughout the city, including Ryan Gander’s bench-like sculptures on the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral plateau, a large-scale installation by Holly Hendry at Exchange Flags and a mosaic by Paulina Olowska at Invisible Wind Factory.

The artists featured in the Biennial exhibition are: Madiha Aijaz, Abbas Akhavan, Morehshin Allahyari, Francis Alÿs, Ei Arakawa, Kevin Beasley, Mohamed Bourouissa, Banu Cenneto?lu, Shannon Ebner, Paul Elliman, Inci Eviner, Aslan Gaisumov, Ryan Gander with Jamie Clark, Phoebe Edwards, Tianna Mehta, Maisie Williams and Joshua Yates, Joseph Grigely, Dale Harding, Holly Hendry, Lamia Joreige, Brian Jungen, Janice Kerbel, Duane Linklater, Mae-ling Lokko, Taus Makhacheva, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Naeem Mohaiemen, Paulina Olowska, George Osodi, Silke Otto-Knapp, Mathias Poledna, Annie Pootoogook, Reetu Sattar, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Iacopo Seri, Melanie Smith, The Serving Library, Agnès Varda, Joyce Wieland, Haegue Yang, Chou Yu-Cheng, Rehana Zaman.

The public programme of more than 80 performances, talks, films, family and education events, and special tours includes weekly screenings of the work of pioneering filmmaker Agnès Varda, as well as a personally curated set of films to accompany her own, presented at FACT in partnership with Picturehouse and BFI alongside Varda’s newly commissioned work for the Biennial.

Worlds within worlds invites audiences to explore the histories and stories evoked by objects and artefacts from the city’s civic collections and architecture: from the encaustic-tiled Minton floor at St George’s Hall and masterpieces in the Walker Art Gallery by artists including George Stubbs, David Hockney, Augustus John and Joseph Wright of Derby, to a rare complete edition of The Birds of America by John James Audubon at the Central Library, the Haida totem pole at World Museum, and a presentation of the Civic Silver in the Town Hall.

Liverpool Biennial is a highlight of Liverpool 2018, a year-long programme that showcases the city’s culture and creativity a decade on from its accolade as European Capital of Culture. The Biennial also includes partner exhibitions John Moores Painting Prize 2018, celebrating its 60th anniversary; Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018; This is Shanghai, an exhibition of work by contemporary artists from Shanghai presented by Culture Liverpool in partnership with Open Eye Gallery; and the Biennial Fringe, which features over 250 new works and more than 100 individual events across the six boroughs of Liverpool City Region.