International 04 @ Bluecoat

Bluecoat Arts Centre, School Lane
18th September – 28th November 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

The Bluecoat is showing works by a group of overseas artists, as part of the Biennial’s 'International 04' strand. Each of the exhibitors stayed in Liverpool to gain a sense of the city's atmosphere before producing their piece. Whether most of the creations reflect badly on the creators or the city itself is a matter for serious consideration.

Of the five pieces on display, Yeondoo Jung’s ‘BeWitched’ is the most intriguing. Taking inspiration from the 1960s US sitcom of the same name, Jung takes photos of young people in their mundane day jobs and then – like a South Korean Jimmy Saville – fixes it for them to live out their dreams for one photo session only. The images have a certain poignancy, but the cycle proves far too slow to sustain interest. Most people walk in and back out again within twenty seconds, failing to realise there is more than one picture on display. This probably says more about our society than the artist could have intended.

‘Trigger’ by Wong Hoy Cheong apparently recreates a visit by Roy Rogers to the Adelphi hotel in aeons passed. A horse is led through the foyer and around the hotel, and five screens simultaneously display the result. Not unexpectedly, this mild intrusion into formal and regulated work routines provoked mild surprise and amusement amongst the staff. I was not amused, unfortunately.

Sanja Ivekovic’s ‘Liverpoll’ was produced in conjunction with the Echo. The paper asked a number of seemingly Beatles-related questions and the results are shown on giant red and yellow pie chart ‘benches’ in Church Alley. So we learn that three quarters of Echo readers believe love isn’t all we need after all. However, 69% can “imagine a future after capitalism”. Get it? Imagine? Never mind…

Amanda Coogan’s ‘Beethoven, The Headbangers’ was deemed suitable teatime viewing by BBC’s NorthWest Tonight, so you can guess just how exciting it is. Filmed at the Philharmonic, it shows a group of thirty dancers, twenty-nine of whom headbanged, pogoed and pumped their fists to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, whilst the other one swayed awkwardly. It’s a bit of a laugh for fifteen seconds, but nothing more than that.

I’ve saved the worst and most chin-strokingly pretentious til last. Aleks Danko’s ‘Rolling Home’ consists of four miniature blue houses, and a video of them being rolled through city centre streets. Though Danko hoped the installation would “activate history and memory…give pause for personal reflection on notions of home”, the looks of contemptuous disinterest on the faces of passers-by sum it up far better.

Apparently, this exhibition represents what ‘artists’ from other countries think of Liverpool, so it’s reasonable to assume we will get much more of the same in 2008, when the Capital of Culture crowd roll into town. Don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait…