I drove to Cardiff this morning to attend the OCA Artes Mundi study visit.
This contemporary art exhibition is held every other year and this year it is spread throughout Cardiff over three separate venues.
Theaster gates explores ideas surrounding belief and the objects used within belief systems. Using found items from within a community where he works. For me these works question the validity of an object and whether the mythical essence of religious objects remain out of context in a new environment.
From a distance the main installation by Carlos Bunga looks like an industrial space with tall solid structures. But as you get closer you realise these structures are made from cardboard completely changing your original impression. This work asks us to question the impermanence of things and fragility both of objects and ourselves.
Karen Mirza and Brad Butler
The work of these two artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler was for me, the most engaging of the day. As soon as you enter the room containing ‘You are the Prime Minister’ you are confronted with the large neon above, almost referencing something for sale. There are six desks lined up in the room as if in an exam and on each is a sheet of paper. Five of the desks have a page that is taken from an Eaton scholarship exam paper (see below). The question gives no choices just a request to talk a way out of a situation. Questioning whether the role of Prime Minister is bought by way of school fees and the old boys network. The sixth desk has a plain sheet of paper with a pencil, almost offering an opportunity to be whoever you want to be and stand on your own.
Artes Mundi contains such a broad spectrum of work that there is something there for everyone whatever the discipline. The only theme running through the whole event is that the works all speak of the human condition.
These were the highlights for me from Day 1 of the study visit…. it was great as well to be able to have detailed and thought provoking conversations with others from the group later on in the day.