Liverpool Biennial 2010: Tactful Rituals in the "Quebec Pavillion", part of City States in the NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre.

Tactful Rituals in the "Quebec Pavillion", part of City States in the NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre.

Art If the intention of certain aspects of City States is to offer a tantalising taste of the Biennial’s rival festivals in other corners of the world, it more than succeeds. Passing into the area designated Quebec Pavilion, for example, an exhibition called Tactful Rituals it’s impossible not feel the sense of entering a different cultural époque (because I can’t think of another word), even if the actual work isn’t that different, especially since the Touched part of the Biennial gathers international artists anyway.

In Catherine Sylvain’s Femme-Chien we’re confronted by Yuly, a two metre tall inflatable white dog behind which is a tiny screen showing her embracing the plastic animal on a traffic island in Montreal in 2003 (or is it Mantrevil, France in 2007?). She trying to understand why she saw more man/dog pairings on the streets than man/woman couple. It’s the Roger Sanchez video for dog lovers with the public surrealism of a Dom Jolly skit. What I wasn’t sure about was whether I should be hugging Yuly too; I decided against it. The gallery might not have a puncture repair kit.

Also worth noting are Adad Hannah’s two video pieces. Four Hands shows a table filled with food with some hands hovering above just ready to pounce. The more interesting Dinner Date offers a girl climbing over a table in a cafe to kiss her Chris Martin alike manfriend, limbs all over the place. Both initially seem like freeze frames, but after not too long we notice that the hands are quivering and that the kiss is causing both of the participants to look increasingly uncomfortable; these are actors recreating in actuality what a dvd pause button might do virtually.

The kiss is sustained for eight minutes and we can’t help watching to see if it progresses at all and yet through an act of certain will power, neither laughs at the predicament, no stage giggles. What we have instead is a piece that becomes increasing erotic as it progresses and we take in the different elements of the moment, were their hands are, the aftermath of the movement on the geography of the table and question if this is meant to represent a spontaneous act. My only disappointment is that we don’t see the aftermath the moment when they have to break because they’re unable to hold the pose any longer.

Until 28 November

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