Touched, the international exhibition as part of the Liverpool Biennial, showcases works and projects that share the ability to evoke emotions and intellectual reactions, to physically touch and engage people, both in the public realm and in the gallery spaces.
Emplacement is the right word to frame - in this context - the simultaneous permeability to cognitive, emotional and physical glimpses, the kind of engagement whose fullness conceptual art poetics have thwarted for many years in behalf of a pure intellectual response. On the other hand, Touched states the relevance of affections; once emotions are triggered off, individuals seem to be more open to changes and complexity; art without emotional force is without intellectual power, says Lewis Biggs.
Moreover, touched is a broad spectrum term, meanings fan out to insanity, emotions, phisical proximity, to the more political engagement, whitin the polis, the public domain, the community. Not by chance one of the leading ambitions of the Liverpool Biennial is to go public, to go to the root of living and this edition - Touched - reinforces this aim. How can we get in touch with the city? Is it necessary to work en plein air, following the relational rules of public art to be a public artist?
The Human Stain, the figurative painting exhibition curated by Lorenzo Fusi, within the international section of the biennial, is an attempt to answer those questions, stepping back to one of the most traditional forms of art, paiting.
The Human Stain is a journey into the urban space, where the side effects of the relations between the individual and the collectivity are more informed by social conventions, imposed by moral compasses as shame and guilt. Most of the paintings are formally beautiful even if what they unveil is the human vulnerability that society tries to hide. It is the case of Tim Eitel's works.
The same venue in which The Human Stain is on display do also host The Marx Lounge, one of the two projects presented by Alfredo Jaar. On one hand the idea of beauty ingrained in those paintings - the one that pleases the sight - is the same of that bourgeois enviroment in which Marx's politcal and economical theories took form; on the other hand, The Marx Lounge serves as a proper reading room and feeds also minds and intellectual demands. Beside that, the collaboration between Jaar and the Biennial has made another project be possible, We wish to inform you that we didn't know the last chapter of the Ruanda Project. After sixteen years since his first visit to Rwanda and more that twenty works on the genocide, Jaar turns the light to the shameful silence of the international community.
As political as Jaar's but more humorous it is Touch and go, a video by Cristina Lucas that deals with economical revolutions, with the local economical and social breakdown, through the eyes of a group of unionists who once stared at the forefront of the British workers' rights movement.
Talking about economical crisis, the section Re:thinking Trade brings together works and artists who reflect on global economies and late capitalism and propose different models, both factual and impalbable, of human relationships and systems of trade and exchange. Among the artists involved, we met the Freee Collective and Lee Mingwei.
Behind the relation between the individual and his/her enviroment, two other projects stand out for the common ability in touching the space, offering delicate new reading of known or dehumanized spaces: Synclastic-Anticlastic by Hector Zamora and The Temple of a Thousand Bells, the installation by Laura Belém set up in the Oratory of St.James Cemetery.