On Wednesday 2nd November, I decided to go to the National Museum in Cardiff to view the Artes Mundi exhibition. The Artes Mundi exhibition brings together six international contemporary artists who explore contemporary social issues across the world. They bring their own unique perspective on the issues that surround their daily lives, exploring what it means to be human. They each demonstrate the importance of art and culture, opening up new ways of engaging with the world around us, therefore challenging our preconceptions.
I found the whole exhibition to be extremely thought provoking. The work was well considered and challenging to view, the messages were not clear and each piece needed time to absorb its undeniable depth. However, it was only when I read the text which explained the work that I fully understood what was being conveyed, some clearer than others.
In addition to that, I really liked the use of space and how each piece was displayed. It was clear that this took time but I feel they made the best use out of the spaces. My personal favourite was Bedwyr Williams as his piece explored the medium of video to create a fictitious cityscape, influenced by the cityscapes of the world, built around Cadair Idris, a mountain in Wales. The video was projected on to a wall in what I saw to be a very large room. The room itself was painted a very dark grey in order to create focus on to the video, however as soon as you walked into the space you were instantly hit with the enormity of it. At first it seemed to be static, but as we watch, small movements begin to occur such as the weather changing and lights turning on and off in the buildings. It is then you become absorbed in the piece, with the addition of a narrator narrating narratives of what may be taking place day to day in the fictitious world, you begin to see them unfold in your mind.
Nonetheless, due to the enormous scale of the work, it does impose a sense of fear into oneself as it conjures up the thought of how quickly these cities can be built and how they simply take over. After reading up on the work, Williams has chosen to explore dystopia and the influence mankind has on the earth, exploring the speed of which mass construction is taking place.
Another piece that particularly took my attention was John Akomfrah’s video exploring migration. The size of the room was not as large as Bedwyr Williams’ piece, but it didn’t need it, the room itself was all black with two screens. Once you walked in the space, it felt small, as if closing on you, which I thought worked well in relation to the subject matter of the video. The video allowed me to gain a sense of what it meant to be a migrant. It imposed an emotion that no image or media publication has been able to achieve. It clearly had historical value due to the outfit choices, sets and locations and with it brought the reality of migration and persecution that has taken place over the years. I felt extraordinarily sympathetic, and strangely empathetic, with a whisper of fear shadowing, as if I myself was in the boat, lacking the sight of a horizon. It really made me stop and consider the emotions of such a traumatic experience. This is what made it such an exceptional piece of work for me.
I did enjoy the other pieces of work completed by Neil Beloufa, Amy Franceschini/ Futurefarmers and Lamia Joreige, however they did not have such an impact on me and therefore I did not feel they were as strong, although others may disagree with me.
Overall, I really enjoyed the exhibition and found it to be interesting and inspirational. Seeing the variety of media’s used to convey the various messages was very insightful as it proves that there is more than one way to convey a message. However, I do think that the work is stronger when there is a relationship between the medium and the message. Furthermore, I think that what makes a piece of work strong is when it imposes an emotion onto the viewer, something that can alter their way of thinking and becomes memorable in the long run. It was also clear to see within each of the pieces, a lot of time and research had gone into them, especially research, for example I knew that each detail of the work had a reason to be there and enforced the idea being expressed. This is something I aim to achieve within my own work.
For more information click on the link: