Of all the strange sights that the Biennial offers this must be the strangest. Richard Wilson’s Turning The Place Over is extraordinary – an 8 metre oval cut out of a derelict building and mounted so that it revolves.
From the Biennial programme notes:
One of Wilson’s incredible temporary works, Turning the Place Over colonises Cross Keys House, Moorfields. It runs in daylight hours, triggered by a light sensor. Co-commissioned by the Liverpool Culture Company and Liverpool Biennial, co-funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency and The Northern Way, and facilitated by Liverpool Vision, the project was conceived as a stunning trailblazer for Liverpool’s Year as European Capital of Culture 2008, and the jewel in the crown of the Culture Company’s public art programme.
Richard Wilson is one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors. He is internationally celebrated for his interventions in architectural space that draw heavily for their inspiration from the worlds of engineering and construction.
Turning the Place Over consists of an 8 metres diameter ovoid cut from the façade of a building in Liverpool city centre and made to oscillate in three dimensions. The revolving façade rests on a specially designed giant rotator, usually used in the shipping and nuclear industries, and acts as a huge opening and closing ‘window’, offering recurrent glimpses of the interior during its constant cycle during daylight hours.
The construction programme started in February 2007 and involved the careful deconstruction of the façade across three floors of the building, which was then reconstructed and fixed to the enormous pivot installed at the heart of the building. This astonishing feat of engineering is stunning audiences on many levels. Disturbing and disorientating from a distance, from close-up passers-by have a thrilling experience as the building rotates above them.
Wilson has exhibited widely nationally and internationally for the past twenty years and has made major museum exhibitions and public works throughout the world. Wilson has also represented Britain in the Sydney, Sao Paulo and Venice Bienniales and been nominated for the Turner Prize on two occasions. He was one of a select number of artists invited to create a major public work for The Millennium Dome and the only British artist invited to participate in Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000, the largest contemporary art project ever staged in Japan.
Wilson’s past projects have generated both critical and popular acclaim. His seminal installation 20:50, a sea of reflective sump oil which is permanently installed in the Saatchi Collection, was described as ‘one of the masterpieces of the modern age’ by the art critic Andrew Graham Dixon in the BBC television series The History of British Art.