Design: Paul Elliman

The Liverpool Biennial has promoted and celebrated the best of contemporary visual art since it was launched in 1998. By commissioning innovative and, at times, daring works, the Biennial has helped to secure Liverpool’s reputation as an international art city.

For the Biennial’s 10th edition, forty artists from twenty-two countries will exhibit their work under the title, Beautiful world, where are you? The theme invites the artists and audiences to reflect on a world of social, political and economic turmoil, and signifies the Biennial’s commitment to remaining a truly international festival.

In preparation for this years festival, we’re asking some of the Biennial artists and curators to pick a song that relates to the theme. The following playlist will continue to evolve as we ponder, Beautiful world, where are you?

Reetu Sattar

Dhaka-based performance artist REETU SATTAR makes time-based pieces that explore presence and absence, memory, loss, resilience and the ephemerality of existence. She interrogates traditional forms of theatre and the relationship between the body and ego. Her pick for the playlist is Amalo Dhabolo from the Bengali film Utsav: “This is a Bangla RABINDRANATH TAGORE song. It’s about how life is easy under a blue sky white cloud”.

Harano Sur (Lost Tune) will be exhibited at the Liverpool Playhouse.

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Sarah Happersberger

Assistant curator of the Biennial SARAH HAPPERSBERGER has worked with the Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (ZKM) and the Arnolfini in Bristol, where she has co-ordinated exhibitions with major artists such as Basim Magdy and Grayson Perry. Her choice for the playlist is COLDPLAY’s Don’t Panic: “I recently came across it when I was travelling on a plane and there wasn’t a great music selection. It immediately made me think of the title for the Liverpool Biennial 2018, Beautiful world, where are you? I like the fact that it states the contrary.”

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Ryan Gander

RYAN GANDER is a UK-based conceptual artist, whose work involves a questioning of language and knowledge. This is manifested in a variety of different forms including sculpture, film, writing, graphic design and performance. With the intention of defying expectation with my choice, I have chosen Life’s a Happy Song by THE MUPPETS, with the prejudiced forethought that artists are most likely to choose obscure, ungratifying and contrary tunes. The song was actually chosen by my kids, we listen to it a lot in the knowledge that sometimes it’s not necessary to constantly be seeking or planning happiness but just to simply make sure you’re consciously in the present.”

Time Moves Quickly will be exhibited at the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. 

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Ari Benjamin Meyers

Berlin-based artist ARI BENJAMIN MEYERS is a trained classical musician, composer and conductor. His works have explored structures and processes in music composition and the relationship between performer and audience. His pick for the playlist is the TALKING HEADS classic Once in Lifetime: “I can think of no more succinct and powerful song that better expresses the questioning theme of this year’s Biennal. Except maybe for the original Schubert...”

Meyers’s work will be presented at the Liverpool Playhouse.

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Morehshin Allahyari

Iranian artist, activist and educator MOREHSHIN ALLAHYARI lives and works in New York. Her work uses technology to reflect on the political, social and cultural contradictions of the 21st century. She chose Stay Gold by PRINCE HARVEY as her song: “I think it relates to the theme really well and it’s one of my favourite songs from the last year.”

Morehshin Allahyari will showcase a new online commission for the Biennial.


Paul Elliman

London-based PAUL ELLIMAN explores typography and the human voice, and follows language through many of its social and technological guises. He chose the Epilogue from SIDSEL ENDRESEN and BUGGE WESSELTOFT’s Duplex Ride (1998).

Paul Elliman has been working on the Biennial’s graphic identity using letters and symbols from his project, Found Font.

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Taus Makhacheva

TAUS MAKHACHEVA lives and works in Moscow, but her work frequently reflects her cultural origins, which are in Dagestan. She is predominantly known for her videos, which explore notions of truth relating to cultural authenticity and assimilation following the Sovietisation of Dagestan. She has chosen PHILIPPE ROMBI’s La Redaction from the french film, Dans La Maison.

Makhacheva’s work will be on show at St. George’s Hall.

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Liverpool Biennial takes place across the city from 14 July – 28th October.

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