The Winter/Spring programme at Arnolfini includes a pair of exhibitions by international artists, both interrogating notions of borders, distance, loneliness and communication; and a performance piece by one of Britain’s most consistently ground-breaking theatre companies.
Here’s Arnolfini Head of Programme Kieran Swann to introduce the next few months.
Arnolfini continues to be driven by looking at how art can make the world a better place. Art centres can fulfil an important role by being sites in which we can imagine new possibilities, examine old truths from new angles, and create space for people to connect around emotional truths, abstract ideas, the poetic and the surprising.
With our Winter/Spring season, we’re thinking a lot about borders and distance: the borders we build around ourselves, that we’re subject to when it comes to migration law, political processes, and nationhood, and the distance that results from these.
Distance that can leave us feeling unheard, uncared for, separated from our loved ones. This can make us despondent, detached, and feeling powerless. So in many ways, these projects – ASSEMBLY by Angelica Mesiti, and Zanjir by Amak Mahmoodian – are both personal and poetic examinations of political realities: migration, nationhood, statelessness, democracy. Then, through those, both projects examine the human intricacies of how a community forms, what binds it together, how we communicate, how we are separated, and how memory and yearning tie into this.
Angelica Mesiti’s ASSEMBLY is coming to us straight from the Venice Biennale. Mesiti is an Australian artist of Italian heritage, based in Paris, and exhibiting all over the world…this is definitely an artwork with a global outlook! Angelica has transformed our level 1 galleries with lush red carpeting and this beautiful circular amphitheatre, and the audience sits in the centre of three screens of video work that unfolds constantly on all sides.
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The starting point for the work was a poem by Australian poet David Malouf. That poem has then been transformed into a piece of music on a curious device used to take notes in the Italian senate, and that piece of music has then been interpreted by a variety of international musical ensembles, choirs, and dancers. The result is woven together as this music-driven look at how groups of people form democracies and dissipate, speak and sing in harmony, overlap, and – most importantly – listen to each other.
Zanjir is a very different look at community – much more personal, and much more coloured by a sense of distance and separation from community. Amak Mahmoodian, a Bristol-based artist born in Shiraz, Iran, is sharing a series of photographs that she’s taken over the past decade in both Iran and the UK.
The exhibition looks at the idea of distance in a number of ways, most obviously the family and friends from whom Amak is separated by geography and immigration law. In a more abstract way, Amak is thinking about the distance of history, through archival photography that she’s found in the Golestan Archive in Iran (how she uses this is really interesting – and I’ll let visitors discover this themselves); and, by sharing some very personal photographs of her deceased father, the very personal distance that you feel inside you as a result of bereavement.
In addition to our exhibitions, we also have a full programme of world-class performance and events. One I’m most excited about is Forced Entertainment’s new work, To Move In Time. Forced Entertainment are one of the UK’s most important performance companies: they’ve been making performance for about 35 years, winning awards all over the world.
This new piece is a collaboration with performer Tyrone Huggins (who performed here in 2018 with Black Men Walking on its national tour), and asks what, if you could travel into the past, you might change – the mundane and the extraordinary alike.
Find more details of Arnolfini’s Winter/Spring programme at arnolfini.org.uk
Angelica Mesiti, ASSEMBLY, 2019 (production still) three-channel video installation in architectural amphitheatre. HD video projections, colour, six-channel mono sound, 25 mins, dimensions variable. © Photography: Bonnie Elliott. Commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts on the occasion of the 58th International Art Exhibition–La Biennale di Venezia, courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Australia and Galerie Allen, Paris.
Zanjir by Amak Mahmoodian is published by RRB PhotoBooks / IC-Visual Lab. For more info, visit rrbphotobooks.com
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