International 06 at FACT

Matthew Buckingham, Shilpa Gupta, Kelly Mark, Anu Pennanen, Sissel Tolaas, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
FACT Centre, Wood Street (16th September – 26th November 2006, Tues-Sun 11am-6pm)

Reviewed by Adam Ford

We may be adults, but we still like to have a bit of a play, don’t we? There are only so many times you can go to an art gallery, stand around, stroke your beard (if you have one) and think deep thoughts. Too often during this year’s biennial, the most serious looking of exhibitions have left me bored senseless, waiting for a hidden or non-existent truth to leap out of the canvas. I was beginning to feel like the man in the above picture looks. So hooray for the FACT and the chance to do silly stuff! Some of the subject matter is very serious, but there’s always something fun to make up for it.

That tired and sad looking man in the screen capture features prominently in Matthew Buckingham’s ‘Obscure Moorings’. A modern day update of Herman Melville's 1891 story Daniel Orme, the twenty-two minute video shows an old man returning to Liverpool after a long time at sea, and feeling isolated and estranged amongst all the chaos of the current corporate facelift. But get this…you can watch it lying down on like this giant wave-shaped slope thing that I can’t explain adequately in words but is great once you get there!

Shilpa Gupta’s untitled installation is even more entertaining. Up to three of you go into the gallery and stand behind a line, whilst your kind-of shadow is projected on a screen. Then all kinds of weird things happen on the screen. These little houses fall from the top, and will stack up on your head if you don’t get out of the way. You can kick them about though. And strangers apparently walk around behind you, though they can’t be kicked. And loads of other joyous things. It’s supposed to be about urban regeneration, but it’s not really that thinky.

Kelly Mark’s ‘Liverpool A-Z’ is a series of twenty-six short videos by people from various countries about their impressions of Liverpool. It’s quite interesting, and you get to choose the video by pressing the letter their name begins with.

‘Faith’ by Apichatpong Weerasethakul doesn’t exactly sound enthralling, being as it is a silent film about floating astronauts (or ‘isolation’ if you believe the spiel). But it’s okay, because it’s actually shown on two screens simultaneously, and you get to recline on these giant cushions in the middle.

‘A Day in the Office’ by Anu Pennanen is probably the least interesting of the exhibits, since the video is exactly what it says on the tin. Imagine your life, or - if you don’t work in an office - imagine The Office without the laughs. Now stroll on by.

I don’t think I learned anything in my two hours wandering round FACT (apart from the fact that taps are different in Germany), but I didn’t waste my time hunting for chimera either. This exhibition is therefore an entertaining alternative to beard stroking.

Printer friendly page

Comments are closed for this review