Liverpool, UK

Liverpool Biennial

Various Venues, Liverpool UK

The Liverpool Biennial, now in its fifth edition, may never surpass Tatsurou Bashi’s masterstroke, Villa Victoria, from the second edition in 2002. The artist had constructed a temporary hotel room around an imposing piece of nineteenth-century civic statuary dominating one of Liverpool’s busiest squares. Guests spent a night in a make-shift bedroom dominated by a colossal bronze Queen Victoria while urban traffic swirled ceaselessly round just outside the room’s thin walls, a dislocated island of intimacy and stillness amid a space of maximum exposure.

If Villa Victoria was all about displacement—the highlight of a sprawling biennial six years ago—this year’s biennial, far more compact and coherent, works on the opposite principle: Art is set in its proper place. In fact, the exhibition can be taken as a compendium of standard ideas of site in contemporary art. Sculpture, video, painting,

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