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Artes Mundi 5

(October 15, 2012)

Artes Mundi 5

Wales International Exhibition and Prize 2012-2013

Artes Mundi 5, Teresa Margolles, Plancha, 2010
Teresa Margolles, Plancha, 2010, Hot Plate, 300 x 600 x 60cm. Installation with 10 heated steel plates and water from the morgue
(Image: courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich. Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

One of the world's most significant contemporary arts prizes, the biennial Artes Mundi is back at its Cardiff home. A free exhibition of work by artists shortlisted for the prize is being shown at the National Museum of Art, within the Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd - National Museum Cardiff from 6 October 2012; running for fourteen weeks, to 13 January 2013.

We highly recommend taking one of The National Museum of Art's free guided tours of the exhibition (2 pm daily), which helps to place the works in context.

The UK's largest arts prize, of £40,000, will be awarded to an individual winner on 29 November 2012. In addition, each of the shortlisted artists receives £4,000.

Following an extensive research process by two selectors (Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Curator of Contemporary Art at Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York and curatorial agent for dOCUMENTA (13), and Anders Kreuger, Curator at M HKA in Antwerp, Belgium), work from seven artists was chosen. The selectors chose from over 750 nominations, including 576 individual artists from more than 90 countries, identifying artists whose work explores and comments on lived experience.

The seven artists picked for this year’s Artes Mundi, sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch as part of its Arts and Culture Programme, and publicly funded by the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff Council, come from Sweden; Cuba; England; India; Mexico; Lithuania; and Slovenia.

They are:


Miriam Bäckström

Medium: Photography, text, theatre, video
Born: 1967
Country of Origin: Sweden, lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden

Artes Mundi 5, Miriam Backstrom, Smile as if we have already won, 2012 (WidMiriam Bäckström, Smile as if we have already won, 2012 (Wide angle), Cotton, wool, silk and lurex
(Image: courtesy the artist, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

Biography: Swedish artist Miriam Bäckström emerged as a conceptual photographer in the 1990s, best known for her images of empty interiors which tell a story in the absence of the individual. Bäckström's ongoing interests explore how history is told, and processes of creating and recreating memory using photography, text, theatre and video.

Many of Bäckström’s more recent works explore the documentary and the fictional, interweaving narratives that create new and uncertain realities and identities. She recently worked on a yearlong project with one of her students who assumed the role of the character 'Miriam Bäckström'. This character performed public duties on behalf of the artist, selected the work for a retrospective of Bäckström’s work, all the while being the subject of a documentary made by the artist. In 2005 she represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale and collaborated with artist Carsten Höller.

Bäckström has increasingly turned to the moving image, theatre, and performance, working with actor-collaborators to script and shoot videos that expose the often confounding symbioses of fact and fiction, subjectivity and assumed persona.

The work: Hard to capture on a single image, Bäckström's Smile as if we have already won would be worth the entrance fee on its own, had entry not been free. The 12 metre wide tapestry, woven from cotton, wool, silk and lurex, depicts humanoid figures composed of broken mirror fragments "creating the sense that the work is simultaneously claustrophobic and infinitely expanding." More figures become apparent as you become accustomed to the piece, before they disappear from view. Bäckström spent months on the work: set staging; placing mirrors on mannequins; taking hundreds of photos of the scene; removing her reflection (as photographer) from each image; before she could even begin the tapestry. The result is an intricate, beautiful piece of work.


Tania Bruguera

Medium: Performance, social practice
Born: 1968
Country of Origin: Cuba, lives and works between Havana, Cuba and Chicago, USA

Artes Mundi 5, Tania Bruguera, Immigrant Respect Campaign, 2012Tania Bruguera, Immigrant Respect Campaign, 2012, Dimensions variable; Posters, enamel pins, light monument, moral contract
(Image: c
ourtesy of the artist, at various locations, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

Biography: Since the late 1990s Tania Bruguera's artistic practice has often reflected back on the social, cultural and economic experience of being Cuban. Through an interdisciplinary practice spanning installation, social intervention and most prominently performance, Bruguera explores the role art can play in daily political life, bringing light to the individual’s understanding of self as part of a collective historical and contemporary social memory. Bruguera's actions encourage viewers to rethink and question notions of fear, vulnerability, empowerment, self-determination and freedom, as well as submission and obedience as social survival strategies.

At the core of Bruguera's practice is a collaborative impulse that opens up the possibilities made available to her to be shared by others. In 2003 she founded the alternative art school Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Studies in the Art of Behaviour) in Havana to channel intellectual and technological resources unavailable in Cuba to emerging Cuban artists. This has been crucial in the development of a generation of Cuban artists now starting to show internationally. From 2010-15 Bruguera is focusing on her long-term project Immigrant Movement International, based in Queens, NY, which seeks to redefine the immigrant as a global citizen and stimulate artists to create work that can be actively implemented into social, political, and scientific issues.

The work: A continuation of her Immigrant Movement International project, Bruguera's work includes the Immigrant Respect Campaign ribbon and a poster campaign in central Cardiff.


Phil Collins

Medium: Film, video, photography
Born: 1970
Country of Origin: England, lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Artes Mundi 5, Phil Collins, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us, 2011 (ExterPhil Collins, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us (exterior), 2011. Performance in two parts, broadcast live on German public television. With: Niels Bormann, Julia Hummer, Christian Kärgel, Matthias Matschke, Judy Minx, Pau Pappel, Trystan Pütter, Susanne Sachsse, Marcel Schlutt, Sharon Smith, and members of the public
Music: Gruff Rhys & Y Niwl
(Photo: Ivana Klièkoviæ. Image: courtesy Shady Lane Productions. Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

 Artes Mundi 5, Phil Collins,This Unfortunate thing Between Us, 2011 (interi
Phil Collins,
This Unfortunate Thing Between Us (exterior), 2011. Performance in two parts, broadcast live on German public television. With: Niels Bormann, Julia Hummer, Christian Kärgel, Matthias Matschke, Judy Minx, Pau Pappel, Trystan Pütter, Susanne Sachsse, Marcel Schlutt, Sharon Smith, and members of the public
Music: Gruff Rhys & Y Niwl

(Photo: Ivana Klièkoviæ. Image: courtesy Shady Lane Productions. Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)


Biography: English artist Phil Collins' social engagement forms the basis of a practice that investigates the nuances of interpersonal relations within global communities through his performance-based and conceptual approaches to video and photography. Currently based in Berlin, Collins has extensively pursued his practice since the early 2000s across places that have experienced geopolitical unrest, in cities such as Baghdad, Belgrade, Bogotá, and, most recently, Jakarta.

For Collins, popular culture and the media combine with questions of social and political unrest, framed as ways of investigating the inherent problems of representation within different media. Processes of narrating history assume the form of documentary, reality TV, soap operas and music videos, leading him to question the complex relations between producer, participant and viewer.

For Collins, the photographic transaction is key, an instrument of both truth and deception, testimony and fiction, contemporary desires and fears, through which his works explore the very essence of what it is to be human.

The work: Collins' work is shown at two sites.

     Free fotolab can be seen at the National Museum of Art.

Collins offered free processing and prints at sites in several European cities, on the proviso that he could choose any images he wanted. His chosen images, including holiday snaps, weddings, pets etc., are shown in a nine-minute slideshow.

     This Unfortunate Thing Between Us is offsite, at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

Recordings of live broadcasts on German TV are screened in two old caravans on Chapter's forecourt (images above). We may be familiar with TV home shopping channels, but these offered members of the public the opportunity to buy experiences for the special price of £9.99. These included being the victim in a Stasi-style interrogation, acting in a period drama, participating in a porn film (warning: explicit scenes of a sexual nature), or staging your own death in hospital. As an added bonus, the films' soundtracks feature Gruff Rhys and Y Niwl. These are genuinely amusing, and worth the trek out of Cardiff city centre to Chapter's Canton base. You can even enjoy a cwtsh with old friends (or with new ones) and a cup of tea in the caravans, as you watch the shows.


Sheela Gowda

Medium: Sculpture, installation
Born: 1957
Country of Origin: India, lives and works in Bangalore, India

Biography: For Indian artist Sheela Gowda the social and cultural reality of India has formed the basis of her practice. Initially trained as a painter, since the 1990’s she has increasingly developed a sculptural and installation practice that combines the formal language of Western sculpture with an exploration of how materials can make specific reference to the social and cultural context of India.

Gowda’s use of unconventional materials is a highly evocative element of her practice, where the tactile qualities of thread, hair, traditional dyes, pattern and weaving, bring the viewer’s attention to a meaning that transposes these elements into social objects and practices located within a network of production and distribution, framed in relation to India's socio-political legacy.

Her work is both sensual and unsettling, conjuring some of the darkest aspects of human experience, where poetically invested materials evoke what the artist refers to as "the insidious nature of violence, overt and inside us in our psychic makeup". Gowda’s ongoing inquiry into the political and social intricacies of India, traditions of labour, inequity and oppression, creates a richness of meaning woven into a fabric of strength and reclaimed identity.

The work: Tar barrels and plastic tarpaulin form Gowda's abstract sculpture, Kagebangara. Exploring how "materials can make specific reference to the social and cultural context of India", the work includes a mock-up of migrant road construction workers' shelters.


Teresa Margolles

Medium: Sculpture, installation, video
Born: 1974
Country of Origin: Mexico, lives and works in Mexico 

Artes Mundi 5, Teresa Margolles, 32 anos Levantamiento y traslado donde cayTeresa Margolles, 32 anos, Levantamiento y traslado donde cayo el cuerpo asesinado del artista Luis Miguel Suro, 2006, 20 x 200 x 200cm, Concrete and ceramic
(Image: courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

Biography: Teresa Margolles' work focuses on the collective turmoil of the Northern Mexican social experience where drug-related organised crime has resulted in widespread violence and murder. Anonymous traces of past lives, burial and memory are drawn together in her practice. Since graduating with a diploma in forensic medicine in the late 1990s, Margolles has examined the economy of death, whereby the morgue and dissecting room bear witness to social unrest.

The work: For Margolles, sculptural installations and performance bring the physical reality, and materiality, of death to the fore. Typically activating the blind spots of our imagination, Margolles collapses the distinction between art and reality, as in her work for the Venice Biennale in 2009 where the floor of the exhibition space was mopped continuously with water from a morgue in Mexico. By means of artistic intervention, Margolles brings attention uncharacteristically close to our understanding and relationship with death in relation to social, cultural and economic reality. Plancha uses a line of hot plates, onto which water (that has been used to wash the bodies of corpses) from a morgue is dripped from the ceiling. Each drop evaporates on impact, with an eerie hiss.


Darius Mikšys

Medium: Installation
Born: 1969
Country of Origin: Lithuania, lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania 

Artes Mundi 5, Darius Mikšys, The Code, 2012 (Detail)Darius Mikšys, The Code, 2012 (Detail), Dimensions variable, A selection of objects from the National Museum of Wales Collection
(Image: c
ourtesy the artist, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

Biography: For Lithuanian artist Darius Mikšys the recontextualisation of events, experiences, and histories into unstable narratives has taken a central role since the late 1990s. For Mikšys, installations provide the opportunity to experiment, conceptualise, and re-imagine processes of making, displaying and engaging with art.

Social networks take on new forms within the framework of Mikšys’ curatorial interventions; as founder of the first Lithuanian cricket club, Mikšys has built a reputation for introducing social networks, and through various Artists Parents Meetings he has approached and interacted with a wider community of parents of artists in a hybrid form of performance, therapy, and collective experience.

For the 54th Venice Biennale, Mikšys invited all Lithuanian artists who had received European grants to submit a work to his project Behind the White Curtain, 2011. Visitors were able to select from these works, enabling them to create their own displays of post-Soviet Lithuanian art, resulting in a continuously changing narrative of collective identity. Within the context of previous works we can understand Mikšys’ practice as one of re-inventing notions of representation, in terms of the deconstruction of concrete narratives.

The work: For The Code, Mikšys defined 'search terms' from which Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd - National Museum Cardiff's curators chose objects from the museum's collections. Only items not usually displayed in the museum were eligible. Consequently, Mikšys' installation allows us to view some unusual pieces, usually available only by request.



Apolonija Šušteršič

Medium: social practice, site specific installation
Country of Origin: Slovenia, lives and works in Amsterdam and Ljubljana

Artes Mundi 5, Apolonija Šušteršiè, Politics “In Space”, Tiger Bay Project,
Apolonija Šušteršiè, Politics “In Space” / Tiger Bay Project, 2012, Dimensions variable, Platform, teo video monitors, artificial grass, billboard, video projection, camping chains, newspaper
(Image: courtesy the artist, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

 Artes Mundi 5, Apolonija Šušteršiè, Politics In Space, Tiger Bay Project,Apolonija Šušteršič, Politics “In Space” / Tiger Bay Project, 2012, Dimensions variable, Platform, teo video monitors, artificial grass, billboard, video projection, camping chains, newspaper
(Image: courtesy the artist, Photo Credit: Wales News Picture)

Biography: Slovenian artist and architect Apolonija Šušteršič has focused on the social aspects of living environments manifested in art as well as architectural contexts since the 1990s. Her cross-disciplinary approach to creating works within urban environments leads to a socially engaged practice that brings together artists and architects, critics and curators that goes beyond art and architecture, and takes the form of everyday life.

Typically, Šušteršič's broad ranging interest starts with a phenomenological study of space and continues its investigation into the social and political nature of our living environment. Her critical analysis of space usually focuses on the processes and relationships between institutions, cultural politics, urban planning and architecture. Situated somewhere between art, architecture and public services, Šušteršič's practice creates and integrates communities of users who develop scenarios of alternatives and spaces for hope.

The work: Šušteršič's Politics "In Space"/Tiger Bay Project explores the social, political, economic and environmental issues surrounding urban regeneration, and the development of Cardiff Bay in particular, following the Cardiff Bay Barrage's completion. Interviews with those for and against the development are shown in this video installation.

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Follow Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd - National Museum Cardiff
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You may also be interested in:
     National Museum of Art, contemporary galleries, by Jennifer Pearce, March, 2012
     National Museum of Art, Cardiff, Wales, September, 2011


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