Francis Alÿs at the Liverpool Biennale


The 10th edition of Liverpool Biennial, Beautiful world, where are you? will open on 14th July. Over 40 artists including Kevin Beasley,  Paul Elliman, Dale Harding from 22 countries are represented in this year’s edition.

This year’s Biennial also coincides with the 20-anniversary of presenting international art in the city and region. It is also part of Liverpool 2018, a year-long programme that proudly showcases the city’s culture and creativity a decade on from its year as European Capital of Culture.

The title for Beautiful world, where are you? derives from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The years between the composition of Schiller’s poem and Schubert’s song saw great upheaval and profound change in Europe, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Today, the poem continues to reflect a world gripped by deep uncertainty. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that can be shared in a more equitable way.

In Victoria Gallery & Museum, Francis Alÿs presents a selection of postcard-size paintings from the 1980s to today under the title Age Piece. Executed in the tradition of classic plein air painting, these works allude to the condition of global tourism in the contemporary art scene. Many of the paintings were done while scouting new locations for future film projects, often in conflict zones such as Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerp, Belgium) lives and works in Mexico City. Alÿs originally trained as an architect, but it was the confrontation with issues of urbanisation and social unrest in his new country of adoption, Mexico, that inspired his decision to become a visual artist. He consistently directs his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility towards anthropological and geopolitical concerns centred around observations of, and engagements with, everyday life, which he has described as “a sort of discursive argument composed of episodes, metaphors, or parables”. His multifaceted projects include public actions, installations, video, paintings and drawings.