Bloomberg New Contemporaries @ World Museum, Liverpool

Review by Sacha Waldron | 01 Oct 2014

Liverpool’s World Museum is a funny place to hold Bloomberg New Contemporaries. You are greeted by a waving man in a cuddly globe costume. Googly-eyed jellyfish swim around his shoulders. A guide next to him invites us to an exhibition about bacteria. It seems pretty buzzy, filled with children. We pass a Japanese spider crab and a nice bit of Easter Island head before arriving into BNC proper. It’s packed in this year, perhaps less sophisticatedly hung than previous editions but cosy nonetheless.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Enrico David and Goshka Macuga have selected for 2014 and they induct visitors into the show with a statement, ‘We’re All Very Disappointed,’ a large wall of monoprints from the RCA’s Alice Hartley.

Video dominates this year. Goldsmith’s Racheal Crowther films a snake exploring her degree show space before installation. The snake is intercut with scratchy footage of what looks like a fish factory and is overlaid with slogans for DIY and hair-styling products that sometimes flash neon and wiggle about the screen. This is Trecartin on an ambient Valium comedown. Further into the exhibition, however, the video offering becomes really interesting. Ting & Tang: anachronisms by Falmouth's Frances Williams is the most intriguing. Two men sit side-by-side as if on stage preparing for a performance, before rising into a ritualistic dance with each other. Twisty lines of disturbance sporadically distort the image. With a rather disturbing found-footage quality, the work is refreshingly hard to pin down.

Elsewhere, promising works (video again) come from Manchester’s Joseph Whitmore, whose repetitive abstract lines show a touch of Len Lye, and Wimbledon’s Victoria Grenier dances in a starry desk-top universe wearing Beetlejuice-like crocodile slippers. It’s strange that the decision has been made to show 99% of these works on black flatscreens mounted on plinths; with video-fatigue kicking in, some seating or viewing comfort would have been welcome.

Sculpture is definitely in the minority but a covetable inclusion is Artefact, Artifact from Glasgow’s Tess Vaughan, a little concrete monster that's a cross between the Easter Island head from downstairs and the cutest teacup puppy. Another stand-out, painting this time, comes from Falmouth’s Ed Hill. His trio shows a man standing on a mountain rock, in a bee suit at night and lying in bubbling rapids. The viewer is transported to a 1970s hike in Yosemite to the soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel. It's the most carefree summer in this moustachioed young man’s life, and I want to be in those paintings with him, wrapped in an unknown landscape of muddy greens, glowing whites and dusky pink skies.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries is at the World Museum, Liverpool, until 26 Oct, before travelling to the ICA, London, 26 Nov-25 Jan