I have spoken to people working in galleries here in Cardiff, who often tell me that it is difficult to get people over from London to visit Cardiff city and take in its art scene. If we take the winner of Artes Mundi 5, perhaps this gives an insight into why London based curators are less enthusiastic to jump on a train for a couple of hours to see the exhibition. Consider Teresa Margolles’s winning entry:
Margolles’s artwork is an example of where the poetic meets the political. Trained in forensic medicine and having worked in a morgue, the artist offers the audience the chance to contemplate anonymous identities, showing us the significance of the silent physical place of death in 32 años. Levantamiento y traslado donde cayo el cuerpo asesinado del artista Luis Miguel Suro (2006) and the sounds of a post-mortem in Sonido de la primera incisión torácica durante la autopsia a una victim de asesinato (Sonidos de la morgue) (2006). This multi-sensory experience is unusual, and explores an often overlooked aspect of identity – how objects, other than personal, help retain the essence and memory of an individual.
Now, Regina José Galindo achieved global recognition thanks to her performance in ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who can erase the traces?) made in 2003, which documents the artist’s walk from the Constitutional Court to the National Palace in Guatemala City. Along the way, she carried a bowl of blood, stepping into it, and leaving a trail of bloody footprints through the city. This artwork was a response to the General Ríos Montt’s presidential election campaign, and invites the viewer of the performance to remember those who died during former dictator’s violent regime. In this way, Galindo invites the public to think and reflect on what they see: she allows the viewer to participate in the artwork and reflect on others’ cultural histories. Watch some of the performance here:
So why visit Cardiff?
Both Margolles and Galindo use performative interventions to discuss themes of violence and death in their respective Latin American countries. If the international art world recognised Galindo’s work since her fist appearances in 1999, and having also won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale in 2005 (one of the most prestigious global art prizes) – what could possibly entice people to come to Cardiff to see themes that are often explored in Latin American Art and that have already been recognised internationally over 7 years ago?
Featured image: Miradoroeste