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Bienniel Review

By Phil Thornton


FACT – The Z-Foundation present ‘It’s Art Because I Say It’s Art – The re-telling of a 100 year old joke’ by Marcel Dontchump


This brilliant mixed media installation consists of an enormous question mark constructed from the eyelashes of Chinese schoolgirls surrounded by 100 plasmas tv screens showing classic episodes of 70s sit-coms ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ ‘Rising Damp’ ‘It Aint Half Hot Mum’ and ‘The Cuckoo Waltz’ – why? That’s the big question but who, other than Dontchomp can answer it? Not me, that’s for sure!


Bluecoat Gallery – Muddle present Liverpool Glue Glue Pool Ooooo Get You Pool Of Glue-gluepoolGLUEGLUEpool


A giant paddling pool filled with glue that the audience are asked to dive into before attaching shredded copies of the Liverpool Echo to their bodies and then videoed by a 50 year old white dread called Deaf Jeff for an international art/smut mag called GlueShot! Under 12s only please.


Tate – ARTwank Industries present Noodle Bar


The upper level of the Tate is transformed into a giant noodle bar with one big difference – in this noodle bar, YOU are the food!  Volunteers are asked to lay on a giant sushi merryground whilst giant shopsticks pick them up and a giant foam noodle monster digests them and they are shat out through a funnel into the Mersey. A symbolic experience of birth, death and being ripped off.



Open Eye – Leaving The Factory


A large screen shows a go kart speeding around the backstreets of Liverpool ending up inside the giant Jaguar plant at Halewood where workers leave to the sound of classical Spanish music whilst plasma screens show footage of workers reading papers, meanwhile Oriental workers leave their factory to go onboard the space shuttle and float around in outer space. It’s about the mechanisation of humanity and freedom and all that kinda so obvious it hurts kinda shit and yes, this one isn’t a skit, this is real!


La Dolce Vita – Napoliest!


Meanwhile back in the world of ‘real art’ that is art with a modicum of intellect and skill, Swine attended the fantastic ‘La Dolce Vita’ launch at the Rotunda in Kirkdale. David Jacques and Alan Dunn’s impressive Neapolitan triptych was displayed on huge advertising billboards on Stanley Road as locals were encouraged to dance to obscure Italian soundtrack music. As the sun set over the Welsh hills on an unusually balmy late September night with feral Ninja Scals mooching about, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to a 60’s Sorrento for the evening. Cinzano and delicious snacks were liberally handed around and Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ was beamed onto a wall whilst lasers formed intricate patterns on the Rotunda building.


The artwork itself consists of a panoramic postcard of the Naples waterfront taken in the 1950s with various conversations and narratives concerning aspects of Naples’ history and culture as seen by various Liverpudlians. It was commissioned as part of the Cities On The Edge concept that seeks to link port cities such as Liverpool, Naples, Marseilles and Istanbul as places that have more in common with each other than their own countries. This feeling of ‘otherness’ of being apart from the nation state and interfacing with the extended world beyond artificial borders breeds a sense of internationalism and exploration but also a certain insularity too. Naples, Liverpool and Marseilles more so than Istanbul become outcast cities in their own lands, their people reviled as scum by their fellow ‘countrymen.’


OK, Swine has to declare an interest here. I was interviewed about Diego Maradona and the Italy v Argentina world cup semi-final of 1990 as part of this exhibition and Dave Jacques is a mate, but what pisses me off about the Biennial and the whole Capital of Culture ‘celebrations’ themselves is that all the work that went into this piece was displayed for a whole ‘week’ with the launch event being squeezed into a timeframe that meant the painting was taken down a few days after the event. The concept of Cities On The Edge – especially the cultural links between Naples and Liverpool with Boca and New York and has already been covered in Steve Higginson and Tony Waily’s fantastic ‘Edgy Cities’ book (Edgy Cities On The Edge?). If Capital Of Culture is to have any long lasting legacy is that the city forges real and meaningful cultural links with these other cities on the edge and a flow of ideas crosses electronic and geographic boundaries, not just for 08 but for the long-term.


For more info on La Dolce Vita see : 







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