Thursday, 9 December 2010

Reflection-The Biennial as a whole.

My overall experience of the Biennial was a positive one. I feel that I probably should have seen more when I had the chance, but enjoyed the majority of what I did see. The theme 'Touched' can be interpreted on many different levels. The Biennial website describes the Touched theme as follows-

“Touched presents affective art, and so becomes a sketch map of the affections - passion, rage, lust, pleasure, fear and joy. ..Artists depend on their art touching its audience to communicate shared meaning. The erotic frisson between art and its audience is the same as that between individuals who share interests.”

I think this theme is all encompassing. Art in general is used to create a reaction, 'touching' those who view it. This said, if one was to say ‘I was touched by that piece’, this would generally be seen as a positive reaction, and hints towards a heart-warming, emotional response, potentially narrowing down the scope of art that is relevant.

A piece that I was failed to be ‘touched’ by was Mandi XV’ 2007 by Kris Martin at the Black-E. This was probably due to my prior high expectations. The way this piece had been described to me led me to believe I would feel overwhelmed and in awe of this giant suspended sword, but, I wasn’t. The concept was interesting, and there was a definite sense of unease about the foreboding weapon above my head, but the blade appeared blunt, and matt in appearance.

The title, Mandi, stems from a colloquial Italian term for ‘goodbye’, an expression originating from the words mano (hand) and dio (god) and meaning ‘to leave in the hands of God’, and there is a sense that this sword should be at the hands of a greater being. This may sound superficial, but it’s the type of thing I’d show a friend/relative who didn’t have a great interest of knowledge of art, for sheer aesthetic pleasure. The kind of thing I’d show my Dad who’d simply react with, ‘that big swords pretty cool’.

I have however been 'touched' by other work during the Biennial. Some of the pieces I saw took the word 'touched' literally as in physical touch- a sensory experience. With a lot of art we are expected to keep a respectable distance, but with pieces such as NH Harsha's piece 'Star Gazers' we can physically walk over the art itself. Lie down, 'touch' it. I really enjoyed this experiece at Rapid, and felt as if I'd entered a small world of colourful escapism.

There are about 250 biennials and triennials for contemporary art the Liverpool Biennial has grown to be the largest and one of the most visited biennials in the world. Liverpool’s economy directly benefits from this art induced tourism, and so do its people. The Liverpool Biennial website states -

The art that Liverpool Biennial produces and the effect that it has on communities is profound and far reaching.  By providing art that is inspirational and aspirational in a city that is unique, resonant and recognised around the world, the Biennial is putting meaning and quality into personal perspectives.  Along with our partners, we understand that art inspires debate, communication, creativity and engagement and the Biennial undertakes activity based on these qualities to create personal, social and aesthetic growth.’

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