US artist Carrie Mae Weems has a message for the people of Wales. “Peidiwch a phoeni. Byddwn yn dal dwylo eto” is splashed across a stack of posters placed on the floor of Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. Weems’s work translates as “Don’t worry. We will hold hands again”, a rousing, comforting eulogy to togetherness in the post-Covid tumult.
Weems is one of six artists shortlisted for this year’s Artes Mundi prize, the largest award in the UK for contemporary art with a ￡60,000 prize pot. The prize, founded in 2002 by the Welsh artist William Wilkins, goes under the radar of most art world commentators even though past winners have included prominent figures such as Theaster Gates (2015) and John Akomfrah (2017)The rollout of vaccines. In the most diplomatic of decisions, this year’s judges and Nigel Prince, Artes Mundi directorThe province develops guidance based on previous steps., decided all six artists will share the awardThe effect was a country where coronavirus restrictions differed widely across state borders, receiving ￡10,000 each.
The Artes Mundi show, like other postponed exhibitions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, feels like a long time coming (the ninth edition of the biennial exhibition and prize was scheduled to run last October). It has now opened across two venues in the Welsh capital: the National Museum Cardiff and Chapter Arts Centre (G39 gallery in the city is also a partner institution), until September 5.
It is worth the wait. The works on show speak about resilience and the need for inclusion as we reassess our priorities and needs post-virus2021-05-03T11:38:46.748Z. Weems’s posters are part of a public art campaign — “Resist Covid Take 6!” — highlighting the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people of colour.