The countdown to Wales in Venice/Cymru yn Fenis at next year’s 55th Venice Biennale of Art notched up a gear during a preview for Bedwyr William’s new show Dear Both at Ceri Hand Gallery in London. The opening was attended by the artist along with Wales in Venice curators Alfredo Cramerotti, Director of MOSTYN, and Amanda Farr, Director of Oriel Davies Gallery, as well as David Alston, Director of Arts at Arts Council of Wales, which is supporting the project.
The artist introduced his presentation for Wales in Venice via a performance titled The Astronomer that took the audience – who were asked to imagine themselves as moles – on a journey from the gallery to the house and garden of an amateur astronomer in Suffolk.
Williams said: “The performance introduces parts of the work, but I’m not giving too much away! [The work for Venice] is going to be quite site specific. In the performance I mentioned astronomy and the telescope – which although not invented there was first premiered in Venice – and terrazzo flooring, which was invented in Venice and through its pattern might be seen to reflect the structure of the universe; it’s also something I noticed at the former convent (Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice) where the show will be held. The performance was quite humorous, but probably the work for Venice isn’t going to be that funny.”
Williams, who is based in Caernarfon, North Wales is best known for his comedic and poetic live performances and installations that deal with Welshness, otherness and difference. In the past he has assumed different personas in his work – a one-eyed preacher, a Grimm Reaper and Count Pollen.
Curator Amanda Farr said: “Bedwyr truly epitomizes that very rare being – an artist whose vision and clarity of thought forces us to look at the world differently. I can think of no better artist at this moment and of our particular time to represent Wales at the Venice Biennale.”
Alfredo Cramerotti added: “Bedwyr is one of the artists of the moment – not only of Wales, but of the UK art scene as a whole.”
Farr went on to discuss the importance of Wales in Venice for artists and audiences: “Since first taking part in the Venice Biennale in 2003, to my mind Wales’ presentation has always been a game changer in terms of the effect it’s had upon the contemporary visual arts in the country. I believe that it has been an important catalyst for a vital strengthening and growth in confidence for artists, curators and audiences, and almost a coming of age for Welsh contemporary art.
“The ‘collateral exhibitions’ – of which Wales in Venice is part – present an increasingly distinctive and edgy presence at the Biennale, which frequently trumps the official national pavilions at the Giardini.”
Williams’ exhibition at Ceri Hand Gallery features sculpture, video and sound installations and drawing. While the downstairs gallery space is inhabited by a series of works that feature customised garden furniture – a shell encrusted barbecue, a plastic patio set riddled with drilled holes, and a giant black parasol – upstairs there are works that reflect on what it is to be an artist including Research Fellow, an institutional looking door with attached name plaque, and Artist/Artist, a sound work that questions the public’s perception of the artist.
Dear Both continues at Ceri Hand Gallery Project Space, London until 3 November.
Wales in Venice/Cymru yn Fenis at the 55th Venice Biennale of Art will open in June 2013.
More on www.a-n.co.uk:
Gordon Dalton’s 2006 profile of Bedwyr Williams. Read on