Liam’s Reflections on Artes Mundi 7

Part B: Explore arts as an audience member

Artes Mundi is an exhibition that highlights of several artists from a variety of different countries that showcase the a common ‘umbrella’ theme, with this year the theme being ‘The Human Condition’. Each of these artists are shortlisted by a panel of international curators: Elise Atangana, freelance curator based in Paris and Cameroon; Alistair Hudson, Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; and Marie Muracciole, Beirut Art Centre Director. Artes Mundi 7 featured a two part exhibition and was held in Cardiff National Museum and Cardiff Chapter Arts Centre between 21st October 2016 – 26th February 2017.

On 25th February 2017 we visited one half of the ‘Artes Mundi 7’ exhibition at Cardiff National Museum. Several themes were covered, these were: migrations, human movement and Geography, Politics and poverty inequality. These themes were reflective of the current social climate which, in my opinion, gives them a greater impact and helps the audience/viewer empathise and relate to the narrative more instensly.

Although there was no specific direction to the layout of the exhibition, it was somewhat confusing when trying to follow the narrative and themes. The pieces were separated into different rooms and felt somewhat disjointed as the themes did not flow naturally and effortlessly. Each piece was accompanied by a large board filled with descriptive text which would overview the piece, including themes, narrative and any background information on the artist. I felt that there was slightly too much information on the boards, which were often difficult to locate, making the content slightly difficult to read. This is a shame because a lot of the time the background information on the both the artist and the exhibits were essential to understanding the message portrayed.

In conclusion, the theme of Geography and Location was encompassed well within the exhibits and features not only in the work in a political sense, but also as a physical enhancement. For example, there were several pieces that were showcased in unusual and contemporary ways, such as Neïl Beloufa’s work ‘Monopoly’ which shows young children acting out corporate deals within a Monopoly board game setting, this was exhibited with a horizontal screen and two pairs of headphones that you could listen through, making it considerably more intimate and direct to the audience member.I also liked the use of dual screens in the final piece “Auto Da Fé (2016)’ by John Akomfrah. The use of the two channel video projection meant that the footage could be interpreted in several different ways, whether they were contrasting each other, complimenting each other or separated from each other within the narrative.
I have learnt from these pieces that it is crucial to push the boundaries in how we view art and media, by projecting an image on to a sculpture or having several images playing at once, it changes the dynamic of a piece and adds an additional layer to viewing it.