Liverpool Biennial 2014

Liverpool Biennial announces the joint appointment of Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman as curators of the 2014 Biennial, which will take place from 5 July to the end of October 2014.

Mai Abu ElDahab is a curator from Cairo currently living in Brussels. She was from 2007 to 2012, the director of Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp, where she curated a programme of solo shows including exhibitions by Guy Ben-Ner, Mariana Castillo-Deball, Michael Stevenson, Hassan Khan, Michael Portnoy, Norma Jeane and Tim Etchells, Patricia Esquivias and Barbara Visser, amongst many others. She recently edited and co-edited several publications including After Berkeley (2012), From Berkeley to Berkeley (2011), Circular Facts (2011) and Hassan Khan “The Agreement” (2011), all published by Sternberg Press. Prior to assuming the directorship in Antwerp, Abu ElDahab realised exhibitions as a freelancer as well as having been co-curator of the abruptly cancelled Manifesta 6 set to take place in Nicosia, Cyprus. She has written for notable publications including Artforum, Metropolis M, Mousse, and has been involved in an editorial capacity with Dot Dot Dot, CAC Interviu and Aprior. Most recently, she commissioned and produced a 10-inch vinyl of songs written, composed and performed by artists entitled Behave Like an Audience, also published by Sternberg Press.

Anthony Huberman is a curator and writer from Geneva currently based in New York, where he is the founding director of The Artist’s Institute and a distinguished lecturer at Hunter College. In August 2013, he will become the Director of the CCA Wattis Institute, in San Francisco. Previously, he worked as chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, curator of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and curator of SculptureCenter, New York, and has organized a wide variety of independent projects around the world. At The Artist’s Institute, he worked with artists such as Thomas Bayrle, Haim Steinbach, Rosemarie Trockel, Jimmie Durham, and Jo Baer. As chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2007-10), he organized exhibitions of Richard Artschwager, Elad Lassry, Gedi Sibony, Lutz Bacher, Bruce Nauman, John Armleder, and Olivier Mosset, and he initiated The Front Room, an ongoing exhibition series with young artists. He has written for magazines such as Artforum, Afterall, Dot Dot Dot, Flash Art, and Mousse, among others, and is a contributing editor to Bomb magazine.

The two curators will join the creative team under Artistic Director Sally Tallant who is developing the on-going programme of public discourse and long-term commissions and projects.

I am delighted that Anthony and Mai accepted our invitation to curate this edition of the Biennial. Together they bring extraordinary expertise and I am looking forward to working with them both to develop an exciting Biennial for 2014 in Liverpool.

A Needle Walks into a Haystack

A Needle Walks into a Haystack is an exhibition that disrupts the way we assume our habits, and experience our habitats. Curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman, it presents artists who draw upon and reconfigure the objects, images, relationships and activities that constitute their immediate surroundings. Whilst addressing larger questions facing contemporary life and art, these artists work on a scale that is intimate, tangible, and within everyday reach. They attack the metaphors, symbols, and representations that make up their own environment, replacing them with new meanings and protocols: bureaucracy becomes a form of comedy, silence becomes a type of knowledge, domesticity becomes a place of pathology, inefficiency becomes a necessary vocation, and delinquency becomes an everyday routine.

Just as artists in A Needle Walks into a Haystack corrupt recognisable conventions, the exhibition&8217;s title perverts a familiar colloquialism and strips a joke of its necessary punch line, while also alluding to the way these artists impose the singularity of their individual agency onto the larger tenets and social realities of day-to-day life.

For these artists, perhaps like most people, a day involves working in a studio, office, or home, spending time doing mundane chores, smoking a cigarette, cooking a meal, meeting friends or strangers in a bar. Reading a book, visiting a show, caring for a child, or fixing a car is as central to their practice as mixing paint or editing film. Through forms and ideas that range from the provocative to the withdrawn, the artists in the exhibition exploit this mix of occupation, routine and time-off, and locate a place for art in how we live our lives.

Echoing its curatorial concept, A Needle Walks into a Haystack is a single exhibition that reveals its core proposition in different places around the city. At the heart of it is a group show that continues Liverpool Biennial&8217;s commitment to producing new work. This year, the commissioned artists are also invited to show some of their previous projects, providing audiences with more extensive introductions to a selection of artistic languages and practices. The former Trade Union Building, the Biennial&8217;s central location, features a group exhibition that includes work by Uri Aran (IS), Marc Bauer (CH), Bonnie Camplin (UK), Chris Evans (UK), Rana Hamadeh (LB/NL), Louise Hervé (FR) and Chloé Maillet (FR), Judith Hopf (DE), Aaron Flint Jamison (US), Norma Jeane (US), Nicola L. (FR), William Leavitt (US), Christina Ramberg (US), Michael Stevenson (NZ), Josef Strau (AT), Peter Wächtler (DE), amongst others.

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