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Liverpool Biennial 2014: Service Provider

15 Sep - 25 Nov 2012

Sovay Berriman and Laura Mansfield / Bubblebyte / FormContent / GENERATORprojects / Tether

As an official partner of Liverpool Biennial 2012, The Royal Standard presented Service Provider; a ten week programme exploring notions of both private and public hospitality within the context of a biennial structure. The unique environment of an international biennial gives The Royal Standard an opportunity to examine the role it plays as an autonomous organisation in a regional and national arts ecology built on individuals, collectives, organisations and institutions. By exploring the broad notion of the service sector as anything that does not produce tangible products, The Royal Standard opened up a dialogue around the artist led space as a location that facilitates cultural production and the dynamics of the relationships formed during this process.


The Royal Standard commissioned four artist-led organisations and a collaboration between Sovay Berriman and Laura Mansfield to occupy the gallery space for two weeks at a time. The only requirement was that during this time, they must use the gallery as a base from which to provide a public service. The groups occupied The Royal Standard’s galleries and online presence, with their every move viewable through the Foyer – a purpose-built observational zone.Each group controlled methods of entrance and exit, managing interactions an access to the provision of services.

Through a process of outsourcing to selected organisations, The Royal Standard became a guest in its own territory and experienced firsthand the interface between the public encounter and the provision of the event and observed how these movements are affected by the imposition of borders, values and procedures. For the duration, the commissions will function as a micro-biennial state; one populated by transient workers and accumulated in a collective research through aggregate models. The modes of attention of the public are what we perceive to be important when developing a critical understanding of how a city is activated during a biennial.

The gallery was open throughout this ten-week programme and the commissions were supported by the development of an evolving publication and an expansive series of related discussions.