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New Director of Artes Mundi reveals shortlist for the UK's biggest contemporary art prize
Theaster Gates, 'My Labor Is My Protest', South Galleries and 9x9x9, White Cube Bermondsey© Theaster Gates. Photo: Ben Westoby. Courtesy White Cube.
CARDIFF.- The shortlist for the sixth Artes Mundi Prize was announced today (12 December 2013) by Karen MacKinnon, Artes Mundi’s new Director & Curator. It includes outstanding artists from eight countries: Carlos Bunga (Portugal), Karen Mirza and Brad Butler (UK), Omer Fast (Israel), Theaster Gates (USA), Sanja Iveković (Croatia), Ragnar Kjartansson (Iceland), Sharon Lockhart (USA), Renata Lucas (Brazil), Renzo Martens (The Netherlands).

Two invited selectors, Adam Budak, an independent curator currently based in Washington and Sabine Schaschl, Director and Curator of Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, reviewed 800 nominations from 70 countries before choosing the shortlist. They particularly looked for artists whose work explores and comments on the human condition and lived experience.

This year’s shortlist is a diverse selection of international artists spanning different generations and cultures. It includes some of the pioneers of current contemporary art practice on the world stage, and the opportunity to showcase their work in this major exhibition is a huge cultural coup for Wales.

The Artes Mundi 6 Exhibition will celebrate and interrogate the shortlisted artists’ exploration of shared global themes. Artists Renata Lucas, Carlos Bunga and Theaster Gates all delve into the fiercely contested arena of urban space, exposing the politics of social control that define every one of us. The everyday urban environment that we all take for granted is revealed as a battleground for our minds, hearts, wallets and obedience. Through a broad range of media and personal engagement their work points to the forces fighting over the individual and the possible strategies allowing individuals to gain a measure of control over their own lives. Sanja Iveković, Omer Fast and Renzo Martens continue this thread but more specifically address media representation and manipulation, examining the virtual spaces we inhabit within our own minds and the shared cultural sphere.

Many of the artists on the shortlist work in collaboration with individuals and communities. For example Sharon Lockhart’s poetic films and photographs involve working closely, over a long period of time, with groups and individuals from the unrepresented and unseen sections of society. The work of Karen Mirza and Brad Butler questions what we mean by these notions of collaboration and participation. Their practice includes film, performance, curating and publishing. Ragnar Kjartansson’s work also involves collaboration, often with musicians, in performance and installations through which he explores themes of friendship, human emotions, love and beauty. All these artists use a wide range of media, actions and strategies to comment on what it means to be human in contemporary society.

Karen MacKinnon, Artes Mundi’s Director and Curator, said: “The selectors for Artes Mundi 6 have chosen an astonishing group of artists from an extensive, worldwide list of nominations. I very much look forward to working with them, and to creating an exhibition next October that will give local and international audiences the opportunity to engage with some of today’s most exciting international artists. There will be artists from different cultures and generations and an amazing array of artistic practices. Their work will form an exhibition that will be challenging, playful, moving and, above all, will emphasise the importance of art that challenges our perspectives and enriches our lives.

“Artes Mundi 6 promises to be a major cultural event in Cardiff, a vibrant and exciting experience of performance, music, site-specific installations, film, lectures and seminars based in the National Museum and Chapter Arts Centre, and spilling out onto the streets of the capital and beyond.”



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