Sharing Stories From The City
The city’s walls can tell a million stories. If you look closely, there are layers and layers of human history spread across the walls and streets we use every day, and they can reveal things that are more rich and vibrant than most oral histories. Each poster, flyer, graffiti stroke or human handprint deepens the meaning and gives us more to read. In this constant layering, the walls become living pieces of art.
Large-scale art events give these walls to act as a backdrop as well as a canvas, a setting against which to show off artworks and artists from across the world. This is what Liverpool Biennial has always done, by bringing the international art world to the streets, buildings and spaces of Liverpool, thereby making the whole city a living, breathing gallery.
Much like art biennials in Venice, Berlin and Shanghai, the cityscape and history of the place become integral to the setting of the event. Some artists take inspiration from the heritage of their location, while other artworks have context added by where they are placed and how the public view them. This creates a very strong connection between a biennial and how a city sees itself internally – and also how it presents itself to the outside world. Often these can be quite fraught relationships, especially in places (like Liverpool) where the city already has a very strong identity. So, how does a biennial relate to its host?
In the first episode of Season 2 of our Arts + Culture Podcast, we take a walk around the Baltic Triangle with Fatoş Üstek, the new Artistic Director of Liverpool Biennial. We talk about how Liverpool Biennial takes its lead from the identity of the city and its artists, and how they will be looking to open up even more avenues for the region’s practising artists to engage with and showcase at the Biennial in the future.
The Baltic Triangle has been something of a playground for the Biennial over the years, with a number of the current residential and commercial developments taking place on the site of formerly disused buildings which housed exhibitions and artworks for previous editions of the Biennial. On a blustery February afternoon, host Christopher Torpey walked around the streets of the Baltic with Fatoş to explore some of her ideas for how Biennial will unspool under her stewardship, stopping by the site on Great George Street where Banu Cennetoğlu’s The List artwork was posted for 2018’s Biennial.