BLOG Hayley Dolby

NWR Issue 112

Artes Mundi7 – Nástio Mosquito

Artes Mundi7 is one of Wales’ biggest contemporary visual arts exhibitions and the largest art prize in the UK. Nástio Mosquito is premiering The Transitory Suppository; the first chapter of a larger project, which revolves around a fictional dictator and country. The exhibition is open at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter until 26 February 2017. There is a free app available to download for both android and iPhone users.

The fog had swooped in, skirting around the buildings and trees, holding them fast in its embrace. As I walked to Chapter the usually familiar landscape seemed foreign, like someone had attempted to erase its very existence. I had all but walked into the side of the building before noticing it was there. Trying to locate anything through the fog felt like staring into a white abyss, staring at nothing, staring at myself. I sped up my pace and managed to enter the warm light of the arts centre before I hit full existential-crisis mode. I found myself shaking my head from side to side, like I was trying to rid myself of the fog inside my head. It was all getting a bit too intense for a Tuesday afternoon.

I walked through the doors labelled gallery and into a white, empty room. For a moment, I thought the fog had somehow followed me inside. I looked to my left and saw that the doorway was barred by a large cross made from what looked like tape. The doorway on my right seemed to lead to a similarly blank room, and I could see what looked like a crumpled sheet sitting in the centre. Is someone redecorating in there? Is the exhibit closed? Have I missed it? I stared blankly at the white wall in front of me for a few moments before turning around to leave. Thankfully, I caught the eye of a young woman who I assume was manning the exhibit.

“Is everything okay?” she asked.

“Well, I mean… Is this the Artes Mundi exhibit?”

“Yes, the Nástio Mosquito exhibition is to your left and in the two other rooms on the right.”

“Ah, okay, thank you!” I replied, slightly embarrassed at my art faux pas. Of course, you’re allowed to go past the tape. This is art.

I duck slightly, wary of touching the cross just in case it was actually made from tape. It wasn’t. Obviously. The room beyond was lit in a purplish hue, with circles of soft white light illuminating the centre of each typography piece that adorned the walls. They looked like the story of a man’s personal journey, but certain words were taped out in a manner that seemed quite arbitrary. The pieces read from left to right, continuing from wall to wall like a bizarre, disjointed narrative:

I am looking for someone who knows how ___________ _________ with what I know how to do well… No… Fuck the _________ ________.. I am an unforgettable ______________... B________

I decided to move on from the typography, figuring there must be something I just wasn’t understanding in it. I still ducked the tape as I walked through the door, but this time I brushed it with my hand. It was one of those fabric dividers they use in the queues at supermarkets. Interesting.

As it turns out, I was also wrong about the sheet in the right-hand room. It was, in fact, a parachute attached to a crate filled with some sort of medicine. No. Pruritus. No. Ani. The red packages littered the ground.

The next room was filled with white plastic garden furniture (the kind that one ought to be quite mistrustful of because of its tendency to bend and buckle underneath you), pointed towards a solitary TV screen. Empty bottles of beer were scattered across the floor and next to chairs, and on a table, and in crates at the edges of the room. Sagres. My initial thought was that someone had a party on opening night and just forgot to clear up. I have a new understanding of the cleaners at the Museion museum in Bolzano, who threw away Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari’s Where shall we go dancing tonight?. I live in a student flat, and the art piece reminded me of how our living room looks on a Saturday morning.

I stood in the centre of the room for a while, wondering if I could sit on the chairs. I decided against it. I think I read somewhere that it’s bad etiquette to sit on the artwork. The TV was playing on a loop in the background, but I couldn’t quite understand what was going on. It seemed to be an interview with someone. My later research indicates that it was probably the fictional ‘dictator’ who is the focus of Mosquito’s most recent project. Unfortunately, I still can’t be sure.

It appears I will never understand installation art.

Hayley Dolby is an undergraduate at Cardiff University undertaking a work placement with New Welsh Review.


previous blog: Dave Ball: Searching for the Welsh Landscape
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