Friday, January 13, 2017

Get real

Taking a three-year-old to the National Museum of Wales to view the exhibited works of the six artists shortlisted for this year's Artes Mundi prize always had the potential for failure (as well as the potential for earning me the label "modern parenting wanker", as I consequently was branded by a friend). Still, Stanley's burgeoning fascination with art, craft and creativity led me to hope that he might actually enjoy it. No such luck. There was a full five minutes of listless wandering around before an extravagant eye-roll and the plea "Can we go and see the real things now?" And thus he cemented his status as the new enfant terrible of the art world.

In truth, I didn't get that much from it either. The work of Amy Franceschini/Futurefarmers seemed to me like a classic example of an ostensibly community-oriented project that engages more with conceptual art than people or sociopolitical realities. Meanwhile, Neil Beloufa's piece The first dinosaur, lampshade, fertility and complete denial - essentially (!) a film in which non-actors play world leaders engaged in tense political conflict that is then projected through a fibreglass dinosaur (constructed from memory rather than accurately) that moves by motor back and forth along a little track - was completely baffling.

Nevertheless, we did both respond positively to the bits of Lamia Joreige's film The River - about the river that flows through the centre of her home city Beirut - that we caught both at the museum and at Chapter last week. Best, though, was Bedwyr Williams' evocative computer-generated depiction of a fictional futuristic city set near Dolgellau in among the Snowdonian peaks, which despite initially seeming like a static projection gradually comes alive through both minute aspects of animation and a dryly humorous voiceover courtesy of Williams himself that invests the scene with the humanity it's otherwise missing.

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