Artes Mundi 7 questionnaire: Bedwyr Williams

As one of the shortlisted artists for the Artes Mundi 7 prize, the Welsh artist answers our brief questionnaire

By ArtReview

Bedwyr Williams in fromt of his work Tyrrau Mawr (Big Towers), 2016. Photo: Polly Thomas. Courtesy Artes Mundi 7 Bedwyr Williams, Tyrrau Mawr, 2016 (installation view, National Museum Cardiff, 2016). Photo: Polly Thomas. Courtesy Artes Mundi 7

Bedwyr Williams uses installation, film and performance to explore comic narratives about dystopian futures, where serious concerns are sapped by absurdist humour and their interaction with the 'banal’ aspects of modern life. Williams was shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award in 2015 and represented Wales at the 55th Venice Biennale. His 2015 film Century Egg is currently included in the UK-touring British Art Show 8.

ARTREVIEW: Could you tell us a bit more about your project for Artes Mundi and what form it takes?

BEDWYR WILLIAMS: The work is a 20-minute 4K video loop with a projection size of 11m. Created with cgi and composited images, it’s made in the style of a matte painting and it depicts an imaginary city build around Cadair Idris, a mountain in North Wales.

AR: Artes Mundi aims to support ‘contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience’. How do you feel your work relates to that definition?

BW: It’s a pretty elastic definition but I’d say that a work about a futuristic mega city built despite nature in a beauty spot says something about all of those criteria.

AR: Making work which reflects society as it is today can involve some of its most difficult aspects. What role do you think art should or could play in better highlighting or understanding these issues?

BW: I think art is this diabolical snowball, rolling ruckus thing, that rolls on regardless of what anyone thinks it should or shouldn’t do. The money people, the clever people they’re all in it but not in control. Art reflects and highlights everything anyway. Just making sure it’s not all posh people might help.

AR: What has the experience been like to be in a group exhibition such as Artes Mundi? Do you feel particular connections with the other artist’s practices? And what do you think could emerge from this experience?

BW: It was a tough time for me as my mother passed away a week before the show opened and whilst I’m not sure about connections I really enjoyed meeting everybody and learning about my work.

AR: Artes Mundi is the largest monetary prize in the UK, offering £40,000 to the winner. Should you win, how do you plan on using the prize money? Do you have a particular project that you would like to use it to realise?

BW: As a non ‘trustafarian’ I’ve got this project where I zap all the debts I’ve accrued over the years. If there’s any left over I would like to make a scary film.

ArtReview is media partner to Artes Mundi 7. The winner will be awarded on 26 January at a ceremony in Cardiff. The prize exhibition runs at at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter, Cardiff, through 26 February