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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, September 17, 2004
    Naked Yoko and The Commons
     
    In the Biennial Centre today they were giving out free badges in a series of three picturing Yoko Ono's (a) left boob, (b) right boob, (c) genitalia. I could not bring myself to wear them, thinking that if this sets the tone for the whole Biennial then the people of Liverpool should emigrate till November. If we did decide to emigrate however, then at Liverpool John Lennon Airport we would have to pass beneath a billboard-sized naked Yoko. Walking through streets lined with banners of the offending breasts (see pic), face it, I thought - we are trapped in a sordid world of conceptual art for the next three months.

    The jamboree does not begin till tomorrow but the programme is out, and thankfully some of it looks very good. I've been struck especially by some of the events which bring artists, punters and others together to encounter and debate the city in situ. For instance, Liverpool Delving and Driving, with Martha Rosler: "A narrated bus tour with a twist. A unique two hour exploration of the physical and cultural underground that has supported the city and the suburbs." And a project called The Commons, which begins with the observation that much of Liverpool is built on a former commons, and sets out to "[animate] a discussion located in the idea of the commons ... The commons are not a universal value, but a contested set of expectations." The project will explore those expectations through a website and a series of "distributed conferences" taking place at different venues over a month, including the only registered commons in Liverpool, Wavertree Common, in my old stamping-ground. Has this got anything at all to do with the stuff Michael Northcott's been firing us up about all week? You bet.