Celebrating ten years of commissioning ambitious and challenging new work by leading international artists, the fifth edition of Liverpool Biennial’s International exhibition is MADE UP, an exploration of the power of the artistic imagination.

Curated collaboratively by a team drawn from partner galleries and the Biennial under the artistic directorship of Lewis Biggs, MADE UP is explored in a series of themed inflections presented across multiple sites, in galleries and public spaces throughout the city.

Working principally outside the gallery, Liverpool Biennial’s Finnish participant, Otto Karvonen makes simple, often humorous interventions into everyday life, designed to prompt us to question the nature of reality and our own beliefs.

Karvonen’s latest work explores precisely this slippage between the universal and the individual in our experience of the city. In a series of signs distributed along the Made Up route, Karvonen crossbreeds personal observation with the formal language of street signage to reveal the cityscape as a series of overlapping and modulated realities.

He’s keenly aware that the experience of a city depends on personal history and identity as much as the bricks and mortar which define the physical limits of a place.

'When I’m staying abroad in an unfamiliar place I start to automatically look for resemblances and draw parallels between places, apparently in order to locate my own identity in relation to the new surroundings. We carry our places of importance with us in memory and longing, and always project something of them onto the new places we visit and inhabit'.

Based in part on interviews with individuals who offer different perspectives on reality (from foreign nationals to people with mental health problems), Karvonen’s signs suggest the myriad realities that make up a city.