—Introduction

A month long festival of exhibitions, discussions, screenings, performances, events and celebrations in both physical and virtual spaces and places.

Helen Sear - Lure

+ - Helen Sear:

Lure

BayArt

25 May – 21 June

Lure is a major exhibition of new work by Helen Sear. One of Wales’ most important and insightful artists, Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, her focus on the natural world and the startling beauty of her work. From seemingly simple subjects – a frozen pond, straw bales in a field, wild flowers – Sear makes artworks of great power that explore ideas of seeing and perception.

 

Image: Pastoral Monument 6, Dacus Carota, 2012 © Helen Sear

Holly Davey

+ - Holly Davey:

Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t

National Museum Cardiff

9 March – 1 September

Nothing Is What It Is Because Everything Is What It Isn’t is a site-specific photographic installation exploring the stairwell and landing space in the Museum’s contemporary galleries. Holly Davey has photographed the space to create a digital collage in which the stairwell is reformed, repeated and replayed within the original architecture. This reimagining of the stairwell creates a feeling of disorientation, encouraging the viewer to question their experience and understanding of this functional, transitional space. Nothing Is What It Is… was commissioned by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales following an open call for artist submissions in 2012.

The commission is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust.

 

Image: Nothing is what it is (detail), 2013 © Holly Davey

g39 - Barnraising and Bunkers

+ - Various Artists:

Barnraising and Bunkers

g39

8 May – 29 June

Uriel Orlow, Abigail Reynolds, Angharad P Jones, Rich White, Dan Griffiths, Geraint Evans, Jonathan Powell, Richard Powell

The built environment, despite the desires of architects and planners, grows organically from the people that inhabit it. It is an ongoing dialogue and not fixed. The urban and the rural are often set up as polar opposites, the former synonymous with presence and the latter with absence. Asking the question ‘Where are we now?’, the exhibition looks at the human drive for shelter, and how we choose to build. Whereas Barnraising epitomises collective action and co-operation, bunkers suggest the opposite. Bunkers are shelters built for survival, excavated as opposed to built; they isolate and separate the individual from the world.

Barnraising and Bunkers puts together artists that engage or interact with architectural or physical structures, as well as those that work collectively to accomplish things greater than the abilities of the group. It is also a wider examination of those spaces that are flagship structures for art and contrasts them with the often isolated and separate means of their production, the studio.

 

Image: g39 – Barnraising and Bunkers

650px-Blaenavon-Male-Voice-Choir-(3),-2011-©-Alicia-Bruce-

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Ariane Parry on Alicia Bruce’s Encore

Encore is an ideal exhibition for the format of the Diffusion Festival, with themes of performance, community and inter-generational connections slotting neatly into the venue of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A short walk down the corridor from the exhibition offers a glimpse of the creative world of the students in the form of stage costumes, paintings and posters for plays, refusing a clear boundary between the practice of Bruce, her subjects and the college.

The exhibition consists of two sets of portraits, both of musicians and both taken during Bruce’s residency in the town of Blanaevon. The teenage musicians have been photographed in a pose imitative of the James Ward painting A Young Man (1851). Is Bruce using a younger art form to look backwards, or bringing ideas from the past forward? Should we consider her borrowing of this image an act of inspiration or adaptation?

Encore resembles Bruce’s work on the residents of Menie Estate in its examination of a community’s way of life through a framework of referencing older works. The use of A Young Man as a mould raises questions about authorship and originality in her choice of form, although in the clear, bright faces of the Blaenavon musicians there’s a strong sense of who they are, and of Bruce’s ability and affection for the community.

There’s perhaps a sense of cynicism in Encore about the very idea of representing a community like Blanaevon through portraiture. By referring back to the same painting in each portrait the question is raised of whether identities, locations and cultures are compromised by photographic representations, and we’re led to consider the limits of the medium’s representative capabilities.

But the artificiality of this technique is mostly used to celebratory effect, allowing the subjects to display their love of performance in a manner that works in a visual medium, and picks this out as a cohesive theme crossing generations and responding to history.

As her subjects imitate A Young Man, Bruce accompanies them in imitation of James Ward. This sense of empathy between artists working in different mediums is one of many exciting themes throughout the festival that encourage audiences to reconsider the mutable boundaries of photography. It is an accessible approach to this question and as May goes on, it’ll be great to see these ideas debated on Twitter and Facebook.

For anyone especially interested by Bruce’s reference to Ward, the exhibition is only a short walk away from The National Museum and Art Gallery, which is just across the road and provides alternative historical contexts for enjoying Encore. I’d particularly recommend the exhibition ‘People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800 – 2000’

 

Ariane Parry

 

Alicia Bruce: Encore

1 May – 29 May 2013

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Blaenavon Male Voice Choir (3), 2011, Alicia Bruce

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Platform 2 Visual Notes

We have commissioned artist Laura Sorvala to create visual documentation of our platform debates, which are a series of free evening events, each dedicated to one of the Platform themes and led by prominent artists and thinkers. Click Laura Sorvala Sketchnotes here to view a full screen PDF of Laura’s sketchnotes.

The second debate took place at Fire Island 15 May entitled “The artist is not responsible to anyone” and was led by Shaun Featherstone.

Visit Platform to find out about our upcoming events and to vote and comment on the provocations.

Combustible,-2012-©-Timothy-Nordhoff

+ - Various Artists:

From common differences

St Davids Hall

1 May – 31 May

Eva Bartussek, Holly Davey, Paul Duerinckx, John Paul Evans, Peter Finnemore, Muriel Gallan, Hamish Gane, Humberto GaticaAnna Kurpaska, Ryan Moule, Timothy Nordhoff, Richard Page, Lāsma Poiša, Inger Birgitte Richenberg

Exploring themes of locality, community and Otherness, From common differences asks oblique questions of the place of ‘the local’ within a broad network of contemporary cultural relationships. Bringing together established artists and emerging talents in the field, this exhibition presents new photographic work produced within Wales and further afield, to create a multi-perspective dialogue that challenges the capacity of journalistic and art practices to photograph and represent crucial issues of the 21st century. The project uses as its departure point, a recognition of issues regarding Swansea and Cardiff as neighbouring cities. The exhibition will examine important cultural regional questions of identity, locality and distinctiveness.

A partnership project between Swansea Metropolitan University and St David’s Hall.

 

Image: Combustible, 2012 © Timothy Nordhoff

Publishing-Fair

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Publishing Fair

Saturday 25 May, 11am – 5pm & Sunday 26 May, 10am – 5pm 

Stiwdio, Chapter / Free Admission

The publishing fair welcomes all to celebrate, explore and engage in a wealth of international contemporary book arts and print practice. On Saturday there will be a series of Q&A sessions with selected contributors and throughout the weekend will be various launches and signings.

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Kirsty Mackay’s Pop Up Studio Portraits

Sat 4 & Sun 5 May
The Cardiff Story, The Hayes

Sat 11 & Sun 12 May
Milkwood Gallery, Roath

The Pop Up Portrait Studio is a mobile, outdoor photography studio, offering everyone a free portrait session. The studio popped up alongside the Diffusion venues in Cardiff and you can see all 110 portraits that Kirsty has taken above. Participants can also pick up their free print at Cardiff Story where the work is being displayed as a temporary exhibition.

“It is much more than a photo booth. I photograph everyone that comes along. I love being surprised when someone that I might not have thought of photographing, stands in front of my camera, and all of a sudden I see something in them. If I can then capture that – I can make a good portrait.”

kirstymackay.wordpress.com

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Gideon Koppel Interview

B O R T H is a film installation by the artist Gideon Koppel. It was filmed in the wild west Wales town of Borth – a curious and extraordinary place where the infinite horizon of the sea collides with a bricolage of architectures; where epic landscape is playfully juxtaposed with the intimacy of human gesture.

Following on from Koppel’s feature-length film Sleep Furiously – one of the most critically acclaimed British films of 2009 – B O R T H travels along the blurred borders between documentary and fiction, to create a powerful dream-like and sensory world.

The exhibition is showing 1 – 31 May 2013 at Chapter Studio.

For more video content visit Remote Access.

650px-Tim-Davies-Drift-2011-C-the-artist

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Debbie Savage on Tim Davies’ Drift

You don’t have to have visited Venice to construct an image of the city. Its architecture, canals and history have been well documented by artists and tourists alike, giving its unique topography a presumed familiarity and romantic quality that reaches far beyond the city limits. With this in mind, it seems fair to ask, is there anything new or unseen for an artist to bring to a city that has inspired countless reproductions and an impressive canon of works?

It is, perhaps, in response to the ubiquity of these mediated images that Tim Davies produced the three films in this exhibition; Drift, Farari and Capricci. Two of the pieces, Drift and Frari, were developed in Venice over a six-month period for the 54th Biennale in 2011, with the third being filmed for this exhibition in 2012. Rather than trying to further ‘represent’ the city, Davies carefully abstracts moments and spaces to create an intimate portrait of his experience of place. Identifiable landmarks are replaced by atmospheric and closely focused images that could relate to any city, yet are unmistakably routed in this city.

Drift shows a gentle and slow journey along the Venetian canals. As the artist’s hand gently skims the water, buildings are subtly reflected in its rippling surface. Capricci creates movement by blending a series of still images to add an enduring quality to the lapping of waves against a man-made shore, accompanied by the distant mechanical sounds of a working city. Whilst creating quite different impressions and experiences, both films produce a sense of time passing beyond the immediate moment, of the artist as an ultimate flaneur, literally drifting across the city and temporarily intersecting with parts of its narrative.

Frari, is shown in opposition to these works and creates a darker, claustrophobic and frantic vision of the city. Using images taken whilst running up the steps of a gothic church (the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari), the work lurches from light to dark as the sounds of the city, tourists and church bells becomes almost unbearable until we are finally forced out into a blinding white light. Here the immediacy of experience and narrative is more distinct, yet something about the flashes of light and the snatched glimpses of the building’s interior convey something of Venice’s history.

Indeed, the three pieces in this exhibition seem to quietly reference the long history of artists who have taken Venice as their inspiration. The flashes of light in Frari in part mirror the golden light in Monet’s San Girgio Maggiore by Twilight, the abstracted buildings in the rippled water are reminiscent of other works in the National Museum’s collection like Sickert’s The Rialto Bridge, Venice. This gives a sense of consistency to Davies’ work, linking it to Venice’s rich history of artistic practices, but delivering a particular kind of immediacy that can only be delivered through video works.

Through these subtle references to Venice’s artistic traditions, Davies’ work is firmly routed in the city, but its closely focused attention provokes a sense that he is skimming the surface of Venice and presenting a distinctive, personal experience unencumbered by the dominance of past images. Rather than documenting the city, Davies uses his position as an artist to gently disrupt assumed ideas and reflect on our relationship to place; our unique but impermanent experience of a city against the relative permanence of its light, its architecture, and the waters flowing through its canals.

Debbie Savage

 

Tim Davies: Drift

9 March – 26 May 2013

National Museum Cardiff

 

This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.