Art This is it. The end. Or at least the end of the venues listed in the official Liverpool Biennial booklet. Thirty venues in numerical order. There are more on the website and the Independents, so I don’t expect this is really the end of the Biennial for me, but for the purposes of this particular project the Static Gallery signals the end. I feel like Michael Palin at the end of his Around The World In Eighty Days documentary, where he wants to tell everyone about the things he’s seen. Luckily for him he’s had a film crew with him. Luckily for me I have this blog. I hope it’s been fun. For you I mean reading about it. It’s obviously been fun for me. Obviously.
The Static Gallery is a gallery/office space on Roscoe Lane between St Luke’s Church and Liverpool Cathedral up the road from Chinatown (which is a nice bookend to seeing the other Chinatown near the beginning of the project). To complicate matters, I did visit the space the night before for Social Media Café which arguably means I failed to do the venues in numerical order but since I didn’t actually see the artwork that night, I’m putting it in the same bracket as Lime Street Station of not having "officially seen", so just as Palin, Phileas Fogg and Willie Fogg managed to reach their destinations on time thanks to the international date line and repeating a day, I've grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.
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In Just Another Unexpected Guest, artists Adriana Galuppo and Sascha Mikloweit have intersected the gallery space diagonally with a giant solar mirror film wall with a ring of barbed wire across the top in such a way that it's impossible to walk all of the way around it internally. To walk from one side to the other, the visitor must leave the gallery through one entrance and pass through the other, through the café and down some stairs. One of the gallery managers noted that’s also true of anyone who happens to have hired the office space on the wrong side of the “wall” and wants refreshment or to go to the toilet.
There’s a questioning verse in the accompanying literature which asks us to question if we know which side of the wall we’re meant to be standing on. The evocation is of course of great walls in history notably Berlin, though because the reflective surface also distorts our image we could just as well be seeing ourselves in some alternative dimension shimmering due to the transduction barrier. Move around and the breeze makes the wall quiver and shift about. This is artwork in which there’s not much to see but tasks us with considering the thematic implications. I imagine that it changes somewhat when a larger group is in the space.
Of course, because of the way my brain’s wired, beyond the expected allusions, I was reminded of the divide in Big Brother 3, back when it was still a somewhat social experiment and not simply about watching people failing to have sex. The unexpected twist in that series was a set of prison bars struck across the house creating a class system in which one group of housemates had to live on basic rations while the lucky few were allowed luxury products. Straight away resentment brewed, with desperation for vices reaching epic emotional proportions as some housemates found themselves perpetually “stuck” in the less privileged partition.
But that’s the problem with walls. They’re purposefully divisive. They might provide protection, but if you’re not careful, as is the case with gated communities, they can also divorce a person from the wider population and an understanding thereof. But this iron curtain is of course perfectly impregnable. A little too much force and you could fall right through. Not that we would because this is an artwork and etiquette dictates that we don’t destroy the artwork. So instead we stand before it and try to imagine what’s on the other side. Which luckily for me did mean a toilet, a result of once again drinking too much coffee.