Liverpool Biennial 2010: Kaarina Kaikkonen’s Hanging On to Each Other at FACT.

Back entrance to FACT.

Art Kaarina Kaikkonen’s Hanging On to Each Other is immense, strung across the ceiling of the atrium of FACT, filling your field of vision right up the stairs to the main bar. A web strung from wall to wall covered in garments, shirts, blouses, tees, jackets, hung as though the result of a washing day of infinite length, ironically since for reasons which will be elaborated on in a moment, this is literally the great unwashed.

We first met on the morning of the press day and as invited groups were shown about the gallery I simply let them pass by as I stood gaping in wonder and munched on a complementary croissant and coffee, probably in much the same way as Audrey Hepburn at the opening of Breakfast At Tiffanys, though obviously without the fabulous couture because I’m a bloke and also because I couldn’t carry off the pearls.

Like so many of the pieces at the Biennial this time, Kaikkonen is interested in memory and more specifically the memory held with these garments, which in their worn state contain a record of their former owner, “a common experience of domestic life” according to the catalogue text. Hanging On to Each Other is also biographical, alluding to her own parents with the inclusion of her deceased father’s jacket and her mum’s shoes.

These clothes were donated by the local community; its not explicit in any of the text, but on preview night the volunteer who helped construct the piece told me they weren’t washed before hanging so that they would retain their collective experience. I rather like the idea that a group of strangers have contributed to an art piece in this way, perhaps later visiting FACT and seeing such a memorable part of their life just hanging there.

Kaikkonen is the sort of installation artist I particularly love, the sort that effectively recreates the same work in different space, the dimensions and special requirements of the space – Anthony Gormley’s Field a particular favourite. But the use of found objects in this case also adds a layer of social commentary since it captures the fashions of a time. Or more clearly a past time since who would give away clothes if they’re still in season?

Until 28th November.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:59 am

    I agree, I saw it too. It is a wonderful work of art, one of the best