Liverpool Biennial 2010: Danica Dakic at Liverpool Cathedral.

Liverpool Cathedral

Art Like many of the Biennial exhibits this year, Danica Dakic’s Grand Organ is worth a visit for the experience of visiting as much as the piece itself and isn't for someone who suffers from vertigo or agoraphobia or both.

Located in a loft at Liverpool Cathedral, it's only accessible via a thin winding staircase and is being projected in almost total darkness save for a small window with a view of the shop. My giant feet barely managed to grip each inch wide step.

The room isn't silent; the chatter of people near the main entrance bleeds in from below, mostly tourists wondering why the volunteer attending is sitting at the bottom, perhaps assuming that they’re a cathedral employee.

Yet there’s still a tranquillity in the space of a kind which might not otherwise be found outside one of those tiny medieval chapels that appear in films when someone with a calling is having a crises of faith.

Perhaps we’re meant to find a association between the routine of reaching the room with the many steps and corners traversed by the young woman and children who appear in Dakic’s film.

The artist wants to make a connection between the performative elements of their singing – we hear notes from a choir reminiscent of Allegri’s Misere – and the British legal system (curiously though the work appears at the cathedral, it was filmed at and inspired by the organ and courtrooms of St George’s Hall).

There are double meanings throughout; some of the children dashing about wear numbers on their t-shirts perhaps to suggest both Liverpool’s footballing heritage and members of the jury and the stops of the organ pulse in and out like multiple heartbeats, their labels creating a kind of poetry.

To an extent the result is rather frustrating. Not the construction of the piece which is visually very arresting. There’s a moment when the young woman, her red hair and deceptively translucent skin contrasting sharply with the murky stone backdrop regards us directly with her eyes and the effect is almost telepathic.

No, it’s just that as so often happens at these festivals when an artist is represented by a single work, especially something this beautiful, because Dakic seems like she's very much aware of creating a body of evidence which is interrelated, the piece can't stand alone, it feels too much like an example within a much wider ranging argument.

The catalogue offers some background, of how her work is influenced by having to learn her craft in Sarajevo during the siege. But its true meaning will ultimately be shrouded to those of us outside of art circles who’ve never encountered the artist before and may never again.

So perhaps its best to simply enjoy the images and sound as they are, and try not to fall down the stairs on the way out.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to hear Danica Dakic talk at the Touched conference (18th Sept). She explained that the choir boys were recorded singing single notes and then the music was digitally constructed. Each recording of a note was to represent a single organ pipe.
    And...yes like you I stumbled in to the pitch darkness and almost sat on someones's knee!
    I really loved the piece it has definitely haunted me since.