FACT Liverpool currently has a number of artworks on display that relate to the Biennial theme of "Touched." "My Voice Would Reach You" by Meiro Koizumi is a video artwork filmed on a busy street where a man makes a personal phone call. The man speaks as if he is talking to his mother, although the viewer gradually becomes aware that the person on the other end of the line is actually a call-centre employee. There's obviously a humour to the work, but there's an undercurrent of tragedy to it also, as the man's delusion becomes even more compounded and the call recipient becomes increasingly exasperated. The work seems to address a societal trend where impersonal city-living takes precedence over simple values like family and conversation.
Yves Netzhammer's "Dialogical Abrasion" was an installation with a very distinct atmosphere. Unusual, and graphic animations were projected on one wall, while various other scenes and vignettes around the room invited exploration. There were elements of sound, and lights would flash on quite unexpectedly as the viewer walked around. The work seemed almost interactive, although a steward informed us that the sound and light effects were actually happening according to a predetermined pattern. There was slight feel of a house of horrors to the work, as some of the effects could be quite startling, and one of the areas required the viewer to crawl into a darkened tunnel The animations were surreal and violent, and added to the sense of menace in the space. The work, to me, seemed to represent a frustration at everyday, mundane situations and rituals.
The best work in the exhibition, I felt, was "One Year Performance 1980-1981" by Tehching Hsieh. It was a number of objects documenting Hsieh's ritualistic performance where he would punch in on a time clock and take a polaroid photograph of himself in his home, in the same outfit, every hour for an entire year. The photographs and time cards felt very candid, with the tiredness and boredom clearly showing in Hsieh's face. Although the work was conceptual, the objects produced were very affecting. The cards which were incomplete because Hsieh had missed some of his hourly appointments, with the infractions marked in red pen (usually reading "sleeping"), gave the work a real humanity and a sense of the suffering the artist went through in its making.