An interactive retro-futuristic arcade; an installation and online game inspired by a 1980s horror film sequel; the UK’s largest festival of contemporary art; a VR Acid House rave; an exhibition exploring a speculative space age, and the culmination of five years of FACT’s work with the justice system are among the highlights of the 2023-2024 programme unveiled at FACT Liverpool.
- 27 April – 17 September 2023: Explore new worlds inspired by anime, video games, neuroscience and Buddhism in LuYang Arcade Liverpool by digital artist LuYang.
- 20 April – 15 May 2023: Celebrating Eurovision, FACT presents In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats by immersive artist Darren Emerson: a euphoric VR rave adventure that transports you back to the Acid House movement of the 1980s.
- 10 June – 17 September 2023: The UK’s largest festival of contemporary art, Liverpool Biennial, returns to FACT for its 12th edition.
- Opening in Autumn 2023: FACT expands its commitment to artist development with the launch of Studio/Lab, a new space for artists to make art and experiment with the latest technology.
- 19 – 22 October 2023: FACT celebrates its 20th anniversary at Wood Street, Liverpool, with a bumper weekend of free performances, parties, talks and family activities.
- 19 October 2023 – 28 January 2024: Inspired by horror film The Evil Dead II, artist Uma Breakdown takes us on a journey through the gothic genre and its relationship to horror, intimacy of care and technology.
- 19 October 2023 – 28 January 2024: Imagine a future in which the climate crisis forces us to travel to distant planets in an exhibition developed by FACT
curator-in-residence Elizabeth Brown.
- 1 March 2024 – 10 June 2024: FACT presents new works by multimedia artist Melanie Crean, radical sculptor Katrina Palmer, performance artist Pilvi Takala, and sound artist Ain Bailey in the culmination of a multi-year criminal justice art project.
Announcing its 20th anniversary programme, Liverpool’s world-leading centre for contemporary art, film and the creative use of technology reveals a line-up of immersive exhibitions and art experiences by artists, filmmakers, DJs and games designers: LuYang, Darren Emerson, Uma Breakdown, Melanie Crean, Katrina Palmer, Pilvi Takala and Ain Bailey.
Nicola Triscott, Director and CEO at FACT Liverpool, said:
“FACT is internationally known for championing new ideas and interactive art that experiments with digital technology. Through our talent development and learning programmes, we nurture the next generation of artists, creatives and storytellers. Across the galleries and online, visitors can explore and interact with immersive art experiences that reimagine our present realities and dream how to do things diЛerently.”
Maitreyi Maheshwari, Head of Programme at FACT, said:
“ln 2023-24, FACT will look at the possibilities for new ways of collective existence. ln their own ways, each of the projects we will be presenting seeks to unravel and unmake the conventions of identity and social structures that define the limits of the individual, and form collective identities of their choosing. FACT’s programme of exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops will be shaped by artist practices that consider our capacity to influence change and make sense of the world today.”
In 2023-2024, FACT’s programme of immersive exhibitions, stories and experiences will be shaped by artists’ practices rooted in hope and joy. From ‘living on the internet’ to occupying space, artists share their reimaginings of a ‘better’ world where we hold a deeper understanding of each other.
LuYang Arcade Liverpool by LuYang (28 April – 17 September 2023)
Acclaimed Tokyo-based artist LuYang opens the 20th anniversary programme with a free exhibition of multimedia playable video game works transforming the gallery into an interactive retrofuturist arcade.
Through gameplay, visitors can explore the worlds created by LuYang in the exhibition LuYang Arcade Liverpool. Entertaining, thought-provoking, dark and bizarre, LuYang’s interactive works immerse visitors into the worlds of anime, video games and sci-fi. The works within the arcade explore the idea of ‘living on the internet’ and abandoning our binary understandings of identity, time and space.
LuYang said: “Creating a game is like constructing your own universe. The works exhibited in my solo show at FACT are interactive works – game works – from my art practices. The digital spaces l create are a meeting point of Buddhism, popular culture, and my research into neuroscience and technology, designed to stretch the exploration of morality, the mechanics of the human body and mind, and transcendence beyond the binary. Welcome to my worlds.”
In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats by Darren Emerson (20 April – 15 May 2023)
Award-winning immersive artist Darren Emerson invites audiences to search for an illegal rave over one night in Coventry in 1989. From poster-strewn bedrooms and pirate radio stations to a police headquarters and empty warehouse events, audiences take the place of rave-culture pioneers to go in search of a party. Produced by East City Films and presented by FACT in celebration of Eurovision, this euphoric interactive VR adventure transports you into the heart of the Acid House movement. Tickets for the immersive VR experience go on sale in March.
ln Pursuit of Repetitive Beats was originally commissioned and presented as part of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 with support by the BFI, awarding National Lottery Funding.
Liverpool Biennial (10 June – 17 September 2023)
FACT is delighted to welcome Liverpool Biennial once again for the 12th edition of the UK’s largest festival of contemporary art. Titled uMoya: The sacred Return of Lost Things, the festival will present a new large-scale work jointly commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and FACT.
Curated by Khaniyisile Mbongwa, this year’s edition addresses the history and temperament of the city of Liverpool and is a call for ancestral and indigenous forms of knowledge, wisdom and healing. In the isiZulu language, ‘uMoya’ means spirit, breath, air, climate and wind.
Winter 2023 Exhibition by curator-in-residence Elizabeth Brown (19 October 2023 – 28 January 2024)
Curator-in-residence Elizabeth Brown will transform the galleries at FACT with a winter exhibition that imagines futures where we are forced to leave Earth and travel to distant planets. Exploring the present-day displacement caused by the climate crisis and the different rate of impact that rising temperatures have across the globe, the free exhibition will imagine how we could reshape our existence, centring collaboration and hope.
2023 marks the fourth year of FACT’s annual curator-in-residence, and the first of a new three-year funded curatorial development programme supported by the John Ellerman Foundation. The programme offers support and guidance to a curator, a research curator and a curatorial assistant as they take part in a year-long funded residency. All the roles are annual and the scheme will continue until 2025, inviting three people each year from all stages of their curatorial career to develop their practice and ideas at FACT.
Earth A.D. by Uma Breakdown (19 October 2023 – 28 January 2024)
Discover a new body of work by artist and games designer Uma Breakdown. Inspired by Saim Raimi’s 1987 horror film sequel The Evil Dead II, Uma’s installation and game takes us on a journey through the gothic genre and its relationship to science fiction, horror and technology.
Co-produced with Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridge) and QUAD (Derby), Uma takes Sam Raimi’s model of sequel-remake to present an evolving installation. Each iteration of Earth A.D. (2022 ongoing) brings with it a new evolution and experience for the audience, drawing on the work’s themes of repair and transformation.
Uma Breakdown said: “In 1987 Sam Raimi released the film Evil Dead II, simultaneously a sequel and remake to his 1981 film Evil Dead. This installation and game is about ongoing collective repair. There is no limit to the number of reparative attempts we can make, at retelling the story, at remaking ourselves.”
FACT’s relationship with Uma Breakdown began in 2020 with the launch of FACT Together – a commissioning scheme to support emerging artists in the North of England to create new digital artworks. Uma was one of 10 artists awarded during the launch year of the scheme and has since gone on to further opportunities at Baltic (Gateshead) and Transmediale (Berlin). In 2021, FACT partnered with Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridge) and QUAD (Derby) to commission and tour Uma’s first UK solo exhibition, Earth A.D.
Uma added: “I’m incredibly lucky and grateful to have been supported by FACT since producing Animal Agency in 2020, which went on to win an award in Athens and tour to Scotland. The FACT Together commission has led to projects with Abandon Normal Devices, Transmediale, Arebyte and Baltic – and now the tour of my first solo exhibition.”
FACT 20th Anniversary Weekend (19 – 22 October 2023)
Twenty years since FACT opened the doors to its Wood Street centre in 2003, a weekend of special events will celebrate its heritage and look forward to the next 20 years. Four days of free performances, parties, films, talks and family activities will welcome everyone to the celebrations.
Visitors are invited to take a first look at FACT’s new Studio/Lab, a space for emerging artists, curators and filmmakers – a place where creatives can find freedom to develop and kickstart their careers.
Studio/Lab (Autumn 2023)
Opening in Autumn 2023, Studio/Lab is a brand new space at FACT for artists, researchers and technologists. The space will be fitted with new-generation technology including high-powered computers for graphics rendering and games design, a sound recording studio, filmmaking equipment, immersive technical kit and tools for post-production.
Studio/Lab provides a dedicated space for creative experimentation that will build a community of storytellers at FACT – transforming the top floor of the Wood Street centre into a place where art is both made and shown. FACT’s investment in the future generation of voices places Liverpool at the forefront of artist development, creating more opportunities for homegrown and emerging talent.
Lesley Taker, Studio/Lab Manager at FACT, said: “Building on long-term conversations with artists and local organisations, we’re excited to be able to oЛer new ways to work with, and in, FACT. By allowing more space for experimentation and collaboration, we’re investing in early-career artists whose work reimagines how we use technology creatively.”
Studio/Lab is made possible by funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Digital Accelerator Programme, which also supports a new online platform to host artists’ work. The platform will stretch the boundaries of how digital artworks are presented by giving artists the space to experiment and develop, while also providing an interactive and engaging experience for audiences – a new and inspiring way to bring digital art to audiences.
Melanie Crean, Katrina Palmer, Pilvi Takala and Ain Bailey (1 March 2024 – 10 June 2024)
In Spring 2024, FACT will present its ongoing work within the justice system. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, this multi-year project brings artists and participants together to create artworks that tell different stories and experiences of people within the justice system.
Multimedia artist and educator Melanie Crean will present A Machine to Unmake You (2018 ongoing), a collaboration with HMP Altcourse prison staff, incarcerated veterans and the Howard League for Penal Reform. The work is presented as a “knowledge library” of material that the participants feel would be helpful for civilians to understand the challenges people face when leaving the military.
Melanie said: “If bootcamp is a ‘machine’ that makes soldiers, the veterans described that there is no machine to ‘unmake them’, nothing to help soldiers return to civilian society. The project goal is to work with advisors to Parliament to create materials for an ad campaign for this ‘machine’, and in so doing, discuss what programs such a machine might consist of, and how one might market them to other decision makers.”
Alongside Melanie’s project will be a presentation of works created with families who are also affected by the justice system.
Sound artist Ain Bailey will work with the Novus Education Team at HMP Buckley Hall to create a work with the men and their families.
Radical sculptor Katrina Palmer will turn her attention towards the staff within the justice system, working closely with prison officers, educators and managers.
FACT’s ongoing work within the justice system is delivered in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, working closely with Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice, Dr Emma Murray. Emma’s unique role at FACT embeds her within the Learning Programme, acting as criminologist-in-residence.
These artworks will be exhibited alongside a multi-video installation by artist Pilvi Takala. Pilvi’s Close Watch (2022) is based on her time working undercover as a security guard in a large shopping centre. Pilvi explained: “It explores the concept of how private companies exert control over the behaviour of the public.”
Presented together in a free exhibition, the works examine how we might transform institutionalised behaviours of the people who hold the power and those subjected to it.
2023 sees FACT launch a new biannual publication for arts professionals, examining how technology and art can champion new ideas to address the issues of today. The first edition will conclude FACT’s current Radical Ancestry programme. The second edition will be published to coincide with FACT’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
Image Credit: David Bebber