Artes Mundi 9 Announces Virtual March Opening Alongside Extensive Talks And Events Programme






From left to right: Firelei Báez | Dineo Seshee Bopape | Meiro Koizumi | Beatriz Santiago Muñoz |

Prabhakar Pachpute | Carrie Mae Weems






Due to the ongoing challenges wrought by COVID-19, the UK’s largest international contemporary art prize Artes Mundi 9 will now open virtually on Monday 15 March 2021. Audiences will be able to explore the exhibition initially through guided video walkthroughs of each artist’s presentation and still photographic documentation within gallery settings. Although an opening date remains unknown currently and subject to many external circumstances, the Artes Mundi 9 Prize winner announcement will take place digitally on Thursday 15 April 2021. The Artes Mundi 9 exhibition will open to the public when Wales returns to Tier 2 restrictions and in-person visits are possible.


As part of Artes Mundi’s new digital offering, a robust public programme will launch online alongside the exhibition, structured as a series of talks, podcasts, live streamed and downloadable activities and events. Starting with panel-based discussions, these will provide deeper insight into the practice, ideas, issues and thinking of each of the shortlisted artists and their work.


Hosted on Zoom and presented in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University, the twice-monthly talks will be free to all with the first launching on Thursday 11 March at 8pm GMT. Chaired by Artes Mundi 9 juror Rachel Kent, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, it will feature shortlisted artist Firelei Báez in conversation with Dr Francesca Sobande, lecturer of Digital Media Studies at University of Cardiff with a special focus on digital culture, Black identity and diaspora, feminism, and popular culture, and Trinidad-born, Cardiff-based artist and researcher Dr Adéọlá Dewis. The talks will take place live, then made available as podcasts via the Artes Mundi website.

Alongside other shortlisted artists, contributors to subsequent talks will include internationally known figures such as: Sonia Boyce, who will represent the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2021; Marie Hélène Pereira (Director of Programmes, RAW Material Company, Senegal); Elvira Dyangani-Ose (AM9 juror and Director, The Showroom, London); and Zoe Butt (Artistic Director, Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam). They will join UK and Wales based artists, curators and thinkers including Evie Manning (Co-Director, Common Wealth Theatre based in Cardiff and Bradford); Francis McKee (Director of CCA Glasgow); and Yvonne Connikie (Artist and Founder of Black Film Festival Wales), amongst many others.


As part of its virtual opening of Artes Mundi 9 on 15 March, visitors will also have the opportunity to view the global premiere of major new works by many of the shortlisted artists, including the photographic installation The Push, The Call, The Scream, The Dream by Carrie Mae Weems, a new film, About Falling by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, and sculpture, drawings and sound by Dineo Seshee Bopape involving soil and clay from Welsh sacred sites combined with that from significant locations such as  Île de Gorée, Senegal; James River, Richmond, Virginia; Mississippi River, New Orleans; and the Achimota Forest, Accra, Ghana.

Alongside the biennial exhibition, Artes Mundi has longstanding and ongoing co-creative outreach projects, in particular working with the Aurora Trinity Collective and the refugee and asylum seeker community in Cardiff. Developing such work and values further, Artes Mundi is partnering with National Museum Cardiff and project lead, Umulkhayr Mohammed, to present Pitch Black Lates, commissions by four artists, Omikemi, June Campbell-Davies, Yvonne Connikie and Gabin Kongolo responding to areas of the National Museum Wales collection and work by artists in Artes Mundi 9. Public presentations of work developed will take place during the run of Artes Mundi 9 with additional contributors from Jukebox Collective and others. There will also be hybrid physical/digital workshops, performances, and commissions from the likes of Aurora Trinity Collective, Tina Pasotra, Nicole Ready and Jo Fong as well as curated family events such as storytelling sessions with Artes Mundi Children’s Writers In Residence Hannah Issa and Yousuf Lleu Shah working with Where I’m Coming From and Literature Wales.


Further details about these and the extensive range of other public programme events and activities online and live streamed will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Artes Mundi 9 Prize Exhibition

The Artes Mundi 9 exhibition will showcase work by six leading international contemporary artists across three venues: National Museum Cardiff, Chapter and g39. The shortlist – chosen by an expert jury out of more than 700 nominations from 90 countries – includes Firelei Báez (Dominican Republic), Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa), Meiro Koizumi (Japan), Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico), Prabhakar Pachpute (India) and Carrie Mae Weems (USA).  Recent winners include: Theaster Gates (2015), John Akomfrah (2017) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2019).


Although the shortlist was first confirmed in September 2019—at a time when few could predict what the world was accelerating towards—it is no coincidence that the artists all examine, address and question some of the most significant issues we are currently facing. Presentations of new and recent work centre on the devastating impact of histories of colonialism, environmental change, intergenerational trauma and healing, the aftermath and legacies of conflict, and ongoing concerns of representation and privilege.

In the exhibitions, audiences can explore the work of Dominican Republic-born and New York-based artist Firelei Báez, who celebrates Diasporic narrative and black female subjectivity, imagining new possibilities for the future through dynamic, fantastical and intricate paintings. Through a new immersive installation, South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape materially and conceptually engages with place, history, and the consequences of the trans-Atlantic slave-trade through objects, ritual and song, presenting art as embodying the potential for acknowledgement and reconciliation.


Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi’s haunting video triptych Angels of Testimony tackles the legacy of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), dismantling cultural taboos and initiating healing by acknowledging shameful histories. Puerto Rican artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz‘s five film and video works poetically interweave to create a layered installation of non-linear narratives considering the histories and continuing presence of various colonisers on Puerto Rico, its landscape, people and culture.


Prabhakar Pachpute—whose family worked in the coal mines of central India for three generations—draws on shared cultural heritage with the Welsh mining community to create an installation of paintings, banners and objects that harness the iconography of protest and collective action. Work by American artist Carrie Mae Weems, celebrated for her powerful engagement with Black and female representation, encompasses cultural identity, racism, class, political systems and the consequences of power. A new photographic installation reflects on the late civil rights activist John Robert Lewis within the context of the present, while a selection of large-scale pieces from her recent public art campaign interrogates the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of colour while offering messages of hope.

Nigel Prince, Director of Artes Mundi said:Artes Mundi is a platform for diverse perspectives and voices that seeks to stimulate meaningful dialogue. As we live through and engage with global changes of significant impact, more than ever the work of all six artists speaks to and resonates with, the ideas and issues we need to address individually and collectively within our societies, concerning equity, representation, trauma and privilege.”


The shortlist was selected by a jury made up of Cosmin Costinas, Executive Director and Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong and Artistic Director of Kathmandu Triennale 2020; Elvira Dyangani-Ose, Director of The Showroom gallery in London; and Rachel Kent, Chief Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia.  


They commented: “Encompassing painting and drawing, object making, film and video, the artists’ practices sit within the museum context and beyond; some transform public space and others exist as ephemeral iterations. Working against the notion of a centre, they reflect diverse global narratives in both exciting and thoughtful ways. These artists’ works reflect powerfully on the changing forces that shape our world – encompassing themes of identity and narration, social structures and collective memory, and industry and ecological crisis.”