Urban myths and the bittersweet success of regeneration are strong focal points in the International 06 exhibition for Liverpool Biennial 2006. Inspired – in overview and in detail - by Liverpool’s people, history and built environment, the exhibition promises 35 new commissions, including that of Norwegian artists Sissel Tolaas who has been using high-end technology to collect smells from the streets and neighbourhoods of Liverpool.
For her project 'Outsidein', Sissel Tolaas worked with Liverpudlians from the north, west, south and east of the city. Together they would pace the city, using high-end technology to collect smells from streets and neighbourhoods and recording perceptions and feelings in response to their sense of smell. Informed by these responses, she also worked with linguist Andrew Hamer, who specialises in Liverpool’s Scouse dialect, to develop a new vocabulary to describe the smells of the city.
Tolaas has taken the smells she collected on the walk, back to her laboratory in Berlin to create unique ‘smells’ for Liverpool, which are transformed through micro-capsulation, whereby the smells (oils) are encapsulated into micro-eggs, which only open through touch or friction to release the scent. This system can be applied to different surfaces – walls, floors, fabrics and furniture – and in combination with a high-tech diffusion system the smells can be released at intervals in small doses. The scent capsules will be situated in four different parts of the building (representing the four different areas of the city and their different smells), so that visitors will be able to ‘scratch and sniff’ Liverpool and carry a limited edition of the smell of Liverpool home with them.
International 06 responds to the personal readings of Liverpool made by consultant curators Gerardo Mosquera and Manray Hsu. Both see art channelling energy into and within the city. Manray Hsu makes use of metaphors drawn from the internet and from traditional Chinese medicine, while Gerardo Mosquera’s ‘reverse colonialism’ returns the flow of energy along the city’s historic geographic vectors to explore Liverpool here and now. The show’s route through the city punctuates the built environment.
Gerardo Mosquera, from Havana, finds in Liverpool the cultural seeds that blossomed on other continents, such as ‘The Discoverer of the Americas was the Maker of Liverpool’ engraved on the pedestal of Columbus’ statue at Sefton Park’s Palm House. Mosquera is struck by this bold recognition of how the city developed with the historical process of Europe’s expansion and imperial enterprise: trade, piracy, slavery, trade, conquest, and colonisation. His reaction is to reverse the direction of colonisation by proposing artists from the Americas and Asia to engage with the city’s post-imperial present.
Manray Hsu’s focus is on the complex web of globalised signs – or ‘hypertexts’ – that overlay fashion, food, music, film, technology and people’s behaviour. When artists are invited to bring new signs into play across the surface of the city, they open a global perspective on cultural specifics to local or travelling visitors. At the same time, in the spirit of traditional Chinese medicine (Manray is from Taiwan), the artworks in the public realm are connected to the chi (energy flow) of the city through their placement at nodal points: ‘acupuncture for the built environment’, or ‘archipuncture’ as Manray calls it, addressing blockages and imbalances in the city’s energies.
International 06 partners include Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat Arts Centre, FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology), and Open Eye Gallery. This collaboration between organisations in the generation of an exhibition is as remarkable as it is unique.
LiverpoolL Biennial 2006:
16 September – 26 November
FACT (Foundation for Art and Technology)
88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L1 4DQ
Tickets & information: 0151 707 4450
Opening times Galleries & media lounge:
Tuesday - Sunday: 11.00pm - 6.00pm
Admission is Free