Liverpool Biennial 2010: Hector Zamora at Mann Island.

Mann Island

Art Like many of the new public realm items listed in the Biennial guide, Hector Zamora's Synclastic/Anticlastic isn't accompanied by a specific explanation of the piece but rather a general overview of the artist's previous work. We're told by curator Lorenzo Fusi that Zamora carries out "extensive research into the socio-political topographies, as well as playing on the inhabitants' collective memories, myths and desires".

The artist deliberately occupies sites that are off the beaten track, presumably in an attempt to introduce the city's population to areas they might not necessarily have given much mind to. In Bogata, he filled the entire floor of an old building with bananas (one of the main exports of the city), then left them to rot, the decomposition process allowing nature in all its shades to reclaim this man made space. Which must have ponged a bit too.

In introducing us to Mann Island, Zamora has elected to recreate nature using man-made materials. Between the construction site for the new Open Eye Gallery and an office block, beneath a glass canopy, the artist has positioned dozens of concrete "shell structures" of varying shapes. Walking beneath them, I wondered exactly what they might be, these concrete kites whose title infers are mathematically unstable.

Then I glanced at the Mersey and realised: they're concrete sea gulls in various stages of flight, swooping, gliding, falling, an entire flock of them. The shadowy photos in the catalogue barely do them justice when seen in this landscape, against the sky when we look up, or the Wirral across the water in another direction, Liverpool's architectural heritage in another.  I wonder if there's also cheeky a reference to the liver birds which also perch high above them.

There's a paradox inherent in the positioning of the piece, perhaps an example of the playful irony Fusi also refers to in his introduction. The installation has been made on a building site, presumably so that the concrete of the wings can mirror the shades of the pillars holding up the buildings on either side. We're on a main road too, and so the area is flushed with noise, drilling and traffic. Security guards and workmen pace around in fluorescent safety tabards shouting into mobile phones.

Yet the shapes, which also resemble Japanese origami cranes demand meditation, demand silence, even demand concentration and it was very tempting to simply lay down on the floor and simply sit and look at them, imagine that they're not two hundred birds, but one bird frozen in time on two hundred occasions like a three dimensional Muybridge photograph. Luckily I had some Bach with me which was the next best thing.

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