I love Liverpool

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Bring me home, please

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Last week i took the train to Liverpool to see the exhibition Robots and Avatars, conceived by body>data>space at FACT. Proper report will appear next week. In the meantime i felt like singing the praise of Liverpool. I love that city. I love people's accent, the architecture, the magnificent Aloha shirt i bought for peanuts in a vintage shop but most of all i love their art galleries.

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Never one to overlook a photo exhibition, especially when it was curated by Martin Parr, i started the gallery crawl with the Open Eye gallery on the Waterfront. Richard and Famous (brilliant title!) brings together the work of a serial star-hunter and of a LA-based photographer who explore celebrity culture in radically different ways.

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Joan Collins, 2010. Photography Richard Simpkin

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View of the exhibition Richard and Famous

Since 1989 Richard Simpkin has waited for celebrities outside hotels, airport arrival halls and parties to have them pose with him for a photo. At first, the only thing my eyes were looking for as they scoured the hundreds of snapshots were the actors and rock stars who were smiling at the camera. Only later did i turn my attention to the real star of this unusual assemblage of images. The series is a kind of evolving portrait of a teenager who starts growing a bear, gets fatter, cuts his hair super short and is now almost 40. What never changes however is that smile with the red cheeks and the fact that the people who appear in the photos are famous for some reason. Whether we're talking Dalai Lama or Kim Kardashian doesn't seem to really matter to Simpkin.

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Simone Lueck, Mara in the Bedroom, 2009, from The Once and Future Queens

The next room shows what came out after photographer Simone Lueck placed an ad on Craigslist that said: "Seeking striking older woman to pose as a glamorous movie star for photo series." Lueck was merely the intermediary to their fantasies. The ladies of The Once and Future Queens chose their makeup, clothes, poses, settings. The Once and Future Queens could have been a grotesque portrayal of mature women living the Dynasty dream or a pitiful trip to Sunset Boulevard but it turned out to be a lesson in bravura, so-what attitude and old Hollywood appeal.

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Simone Lueck, Mara in the Library, 2009, from The Once and Future Queens

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Simone Lueck, Fabie in the Living Room, from The Once and Future Queens

A few minutes away from the Open Eye Gallery is the Albert Dock and Tate Liverpool

I headed to the artist's room to see the works that Martin Creed has donated to the gallery. Among them is Work 837 Sick Film, four short films displayed on four monitors stacked to form a cube. Each screen shows a person vomiting what looks like the content of a tin (or tins in the case of one of the women) of white beans in tomato sauce on the floor of a white room. It's perfectly repulsive. It's also strangely compelling.

Examples of Sick Films found online:


Martin Creed, Work No. 503


Martin Creed, Work No. 547

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Next! Topophobia at the Bluecoat. The anxiety disorder is here investigated as a cultural phenomenon, with artworks representing place and space as both threatened and threatening.

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Marja Helander photographs herself as a woman caught between two cultures, the traditional heritage of her Sami background and everyday life in modern Finland.

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Marja Helander, Go-between (noaidi), Inari, 2002

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Marja Helander, Tourist Attractions, Finland, 2003

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Marja Helander, Mount Palopáá, Finland, 2001

Wilderness and urban American landscapes seem to cohabit rather uncomfortably in Uta Kogelsberger's Urban Myths photo series.

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Uta Kogelsberger, Urban Myths, Road III, 2009

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That's it! Couple more images from the city:

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Martin Creed, Work No. 890, DON'T WORRY 2008

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A last one for the road:

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Still from 'Sick Film'

Richard and Famous is now closed but you can still see Topophobia at the Bluecoat through 22 Apr 2012 and ARTIST ROOMS Martin Creed is at Tate Liverpool until 27 May 2012.

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