The 11th edition of Liverpool Biennial will open the first ‘outside’ chapter of The Stomach and the Port on 20 March 2021, starting with a major new series of outdoor sculpture, sonic and digital commissions by nine different artists, alongside the new Biennial Online Portal (liverpoolbiennial2021.com). To align with government guidelines, the second ‘inside’ chapter will launch the full festival of exhibitions and events hosted by key venues throughout Liverpool in late Spring.
The Stomach and the Port (20 March to 6 June) is curated by Manuela Moscoso and will showcase the work of 50 leading, and emerging, artists and collectives from 30 countries around the world, including 47 new commissions for the Liverpool Biennial.
Exploring concepts of the body, the Biennial draws on non-Western thinking that challenges our understanding of the individual as a defined, self-sufficient, entity. Instead, the body is seen as fluid, being continuously shaped by, and actively shaping its environment. The central point of these queries is Liverpool: a city which was an active agent in the process of modernisation and change but which also played a role in the foundation of colonialism. Through the visible and invisible dynamics of Liverpool’s historic port, this Biennial envisions different forms of being human and explores what bodies have the potential to be.
The ‘outside’ chapter brings together the exterior elements of the Biennial. New sculptures and installations located at strategic outdoor sites across Liverpool will celebrate the city centre’s iconic architecture and public spaces. The works connect bodies and experiences to key places, past and present, speaking of the movement of humans across the sea and proposing new understandings of the relationships between the body and nature. In addition, three dynamic new sonic and digital commissions will be launched on the Biennial Online Portal for the duration of the Biennial.
To ensure the health and safety of the public, local residents will be able to safely experience the inspiring new additions to the city’s cultural landscape, while observing the government’s COVID-19 guidance of social distancing at all times and the appropriate wearing of face coverings. For audiences from further afield, the Biennial Online Portal will provide a dedicated platform, featuring the practices of each of the artists taking part, along with a free and evolving public programme of events and learning resources.
Manuela Moscoso, Curator of Liverpool Biennial 2021, said:
“We might think of the human stomach and the port as two sites of connection and exchange. Both vast, interconnected networks of cultural, natural and sociopolitical systems. Developed over several years, The Stomach and the Port gathers practices that are deeply engaged with different forms of existence that challenge rigid categories. They include kinship, porosity, collectivism and bodily experience, embracing ways of digesting and continuously producing, rather than only consuming. They also address bodies within specific locations and constraints and how history unfolds in the present.
Given the porosity of our bodies and the behavior of the virus restricting our movements until today, the Biennial has to respond to the constant shifts and COVID regulations. The Stomach and the Port will therefore unfold in two chapters. The first focusing on Liverpool’s exterior, presenting the outdoor, sonic and digital commissions, together with the film and online programme. And the second chapter will fully open the Biennial festival later in the Spring. Rooted in decolonising our experience of the world, the artists collaboratively present a re-calibration of the senses and a catalyst for change and healing.”
Sam Lackey, Interim Director, Liverpool Biennial, said:
“We are so proud to be opening The Stomach and the Port, on 20 March. The committed spirit from our artists, our partners and the city to present the Biennial amidst the pandemic has been resolute, enabling us to create a model that can safely bring art to the public and adapt to the changing patterns of life that COVID-19 presents us with moving forwards.
“Now is a vital time to breathe new life and energy into Liverpool and the wider community, spearheading the process of cultural recovery. Our hybrid approach to opening the Biennial will ensure we can continue to present an ambitious programme throughout late Spring and Summer, offering an extraordinary, shared experience that will empower and inspire, reasserting Liverpool’s reputation as a nerve centre for art and culture. As soon as the Government’s restrictions are lifted, we cannot wait to open the doors to the physical exhibitions on display at our partner venues across the city.”
Read the full press release including artists information here.