Last week saw the media launch of the seventh Liverpool Biennial Arts Festival with the creative team announcing the new theme, artists exhibiting and venues set to be showcased in the coming month’s art extravaganza.  With creative director Lewis Biggs stepping down from the his post last Biennial, this year sees a new creative force for the festival in the form of Sally Tallant, the former head of programs at the beautiful Serpentine Gallery in London.

With this new creative driving force, the festival appears to be stepping in new and innovative directions.   Along with the full festival which lasts from September to November, there are said to be many mini festivals planned for each weekend, diversifying the current art forms with other creative activities such as music, theatre and poetry.  Along with this, it appears the festival is branching out of Liverpool with Tallant herself stating that she wants to make it a “U.K. Biennial and a leading model of Biennial internationally”.

This new sense is scale is more than matched in its choice of new artists and venues.  Moving on from last year’s theme of Touched, this year sees The Unexpected Guest; artwork loosely based around the idea of hospitality and what that means both in the everyday mundane and the political zeitgeist.  An interestingly intangible theme that will no doubt give rise to some extremely interesting pieces of work.

Along with the usual suspects of art venues involved such as The Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery and Tate Liverpool, the festival is planning on taking over other, more unique venues in its quest to bring art to the masses.  The University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum will be presenting an exhibition by Liverpool artist Paul Rooney while The Cunard Building, which stands as one of the magnificent three graces, will be taken over by artists such as John Akomfrah, Sylvie Blocher and Mona Hatoum.

Putting together artists on the way up next to well established artists has been one of the Liverpool Biennial’s strong points and an advantage over its Venice peer.  This year is no different and while showcasing various artists perhaps unknown to the public there are also big names from the contemporary art scene such as Gilbert & George whose work will doubt attract attention with its unprintable name.

Alongside the festival curated by the ever innovative Lorenzo Fusi, the festival will also umbrella events such as the John Moore’s Painting Prize, Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the wonderful 2UP 2DOWN social development project as well as the new Sky Arts Ignition series which promises to be a new chapter in the history of this constantly evolving and wonderful arts festival.

Liverpool Biennial will take place from the 15th of September to the 25th of November.

For more information go to http://www.biennial.com

Adam Scovell

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