Artes Mundi returns February 2021

Artes Mundi 9 Shortlist

PRESS PREVIEW: 11TH FEBRUARY 2021
PRIZE ANNOUNCEMENT: 11TH FEBRUARY 2021
EXHIBITION DATES: 13TH FEBRUARY 2021 – 6TH JUNE 2021

The UK’s largest international contemporary art prize Artes Mundi will return for its ninth edition and accompanying five-month-long exhibition from 13 February 2021 to 6 June 2021 in three venues across Cardiff: National Museum Cardiff, Chapter and g39. In contrast to previous years, the winner of the Artes Mundi 9 Prize will be announced prior to the exhibition, on Thursday 11 February, the same day as the press preview.

The Artes Mundi 9 shortlist was selected from over 700 nominations submitted by 90 countries and 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). Previous winners of the £40,000 prize money include: Theaster Gates (2015), John Akomfrah (2017) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2019).

Artes Mundi is a platform for diverse perspectives and voices that seeks to stimulate meaningful dialogue.

Nigel Prince, Director of Artes Mundi

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.

Dominican Republic-born and New York-based artist Firelei Báez explores Diasporic narratives, celebrates black female subjectivity and imagines 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.”