Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Rapid, formerly a hardware store in Liverpool city centre, recently housed a number of artworks to do with the Biennial theme of Touched. In the attic of the building, if the viewer explored enough to find it, was Rosa Barba's "Free Post Mersey Tunnels." The piece apparently channels the sound of the Mersey Tunnel into the room, although when I went the piece was very quiet. The concept of traffic noise channelled through a mess of burnished steel pipes carried a similar message to scenes in Terry Gilliam's 1985 film "Brazil," I felt, stating something about an increasingly mechanised, loud and busy way of living in the city.

"Trill-ogy Comp" by Ryan Trecartin was a series of three videos in the basement. The films were fast-paced and lurid explorations of youth culture, gender identity and beauty. They were gross and and wilfully vapid, with a sharp sense of social satire. I found the work grating, but extremely compelling and keenly observed. Trecartin's characters, though vividly narcissistic and banal in what they were saying, could still be related to by the viewer.

Lee Mingwei's "The Mending Project," a piece where Mingwei would mend clothes if you sat with him as he did it, seemed to me to be a partner artwork to "Hanging On to Each Other" by Kaireena Kaikkonen in FACT - an installation constructed from recylced clothes tied together by the sleeves and suspended from the ceiling. Kaikkonen's work, like Mingwei's, explores how we relate to each other through our clothes, and how there can be an often-overlooked act of bonding in their maintenance, and in sharing or inheriting them.

"Star-Gazers" by NS Harsha seemed a more upbeat piece, placing the viewer inside the artwork using a mirrored ceiling and floor painted with a crowd of faces looking up. It was novel and quirky, and addressed issues like overcrowding, while still maintaining an aspirational aspect. I found it really refreshing amongst  many of the other artworks, which could perhaps have been typified by their critical nature. A digital piece called "Time/Bank" by Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle invited viewers to pledge their time and skills, hopefully in return for assistance from others. The resulting time pledges were very typical, and I found a volunteer in the "Personal" section of the database who's only offered skills were "availability" and "an open mind."

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