Artes Mundi 2014
I paid my regular (i.e. every two years) visit to the 2014 Artes Mundi exhibit – or, at least, those elements of it which are currently housed at Cardiff’s excellent National Museum of Wales. As usual, it’s a disorienting experience.
On entering the space, one’s first experience is of Theaster Gates’ multimedia display, comprising a big-screen amateur gospel video and various iconic objects – notably a stuffed goat on a railroad track; it appears to be a celebration of marginalised aspects of African-American culture. Carlos Bunga’s piece consists largely of a set of large columns, defining a space throughout which other elements are dotted – most interestingly a hypnotic video showing a light-bulb being smashed and inexpertly reassembled. Renzo Marten’s room is dominated by confrontational self-portrait sculptures of Congolese plantation workers, rendered in chocolate (I overheard an attendant remarking on their propensity to melt). I hesitated to enter Renata Lucas’ exhibit, since it looked as though it was still under construction; what it is, though, is a room full of hinged wooden pallets, which one is free to walk through and rearrange – thus defining one’s own experience of the gallery space, I guess. And I’ve seen Omer Fast’s military-themed video-work before, at the Tate Modern – his piece here is a slick, surreal film about parents mourning their soldier son; from the fraction of the 40-minute piece which I caught it seemed to be full of striking moments.
Fascinating, as ever, and far more imposing and thought-provoking than any verbal description can convey. As is another current exhibition there, of worrisome official prints from World War One.
Meanwhile, this piece of video flash-fiction is entirely irrelevant to all that, other than in the obvious fact that experiencing stimulating art-works does inspire one to create.
Ideal - a short story from OTHNIEL SMITH on Vimeo.