Beautiful World where are you?
A group of five of the Testbeds artists went to see the Liverpool Biennale in early August. This years festival was themed on the question; 'Beautiful World where are you?' as a call to artists and audiences to reflect on a world in social, political and economic turmoil.
As we first arrived we visited the John Moores Painting prize exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery. Lubaina Himid MBE, was the first artist's work I saw. This piece which suggests a self portrait stands in front of two older paintings. It is majestic burst of colour, which injects fresh energy into what could feel like a stuffy museum room. The interpretation sign reads like a poem, the language is unpretentious and direct. The artwork/artist is challenging the viewer to engage with the work.
We visited Bloomberg New Contemporaries and many of the public artworks. This is some of the Testbed group enjoying the sunset from the top of the Beatles museum. Liverpool is an amazing culturally thriving city which embraces its history, and is at the forefront of commissioning contemporary art.
The List by Istanbul-based artist Banu Cennetoğlu, currently on display as part of the Liverpool Biennial, had just been destroyed the day before we arrived. It was shocking to see the artwork which had such a profound message, being treated in such a disrespectful way.
The work on Liverpool’s Great George Street was produced for World Refugee Day and lists the names of the 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives trying to reach Europe since 1993.
Each person is recorded, all known data, name, age, place of origin and reason for leaving is listed, alongside their cause of death. It brings home the fact that these are not just statistics, but ordinary people, adults and children, who just want to live in a safe place. A poster listing many of those who lost their lives inside a ferry to Dover hit me the most. I could be walking on the cliffs in Dover, looking out to sea, oblivious to the nearby suffering of a someone trapped inside a lorry.
The vandalism of this artwork is a clear sign that a fascist mentality is on the rise in the UK.