Bedwyr Williams and The Starry Messenger Collateral Event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Organised by Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice
"The astronomer is stood in the window in a kind of half trance because he is getting a buzz from seeing his observatory with a starry night above it. So whilst he should be in there with his telescope, breathing through his nose chomping on the eyepiece with his baggy eye he's actually getting some pleasure from looking at his hobby. The brochure he had thumbed for months showed a scene not unlike this.
This man is observing his observatory." From ‘The Astronomer’ by Bedwyr Williams
Bedwyr Williams, in a project jointly curated by MOSTYN and Oriel Davies and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, is the artist to represent Wales at the 55th International Art Exhibition. He will present The Starry Messenger at the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Venice, which will explore the relationships between stargazing and the home, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.
Born in St Asaph in 1974, Bedwyr Williams lives and works in Caernarfon, North Wales. His comedic and poetic live performances and installations deal with Welshness, otherness and difference. He has in the past assumed different personas in his work - a one-eyed preacher, the Grim Reaper and Count Pollen.
"I'm interested in worst case scenarios and the people that get caught up in them", he says.
The artist’s work often draws upon the quirky banalities of his own autobiographic existence to develop his sculptures and performances. His work merges art and life with an idiosyncratic twist that is instantaneously sympathetic and relational. His sculpture, installations, text and photography based works and live performances explore subject matter ranging from growing up in Colwyn Bay with size 13 feet, to a mini bus crash with four other artists in residence (in which he is the only survivor).
Bedwyr Williams’ work featured in the opening show at MOSTYN and last year created a memorable installation in Oriel Davies of Nimrod - a piece first shown at Ceri Hand Gallery. His exhibition My Bad opened at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and toured to Mission Gallery in Swansea. Ceri Hand Gallery represents Williams and recently launched a new solo show, Dear Both, by the artist in their new gallery in London, during Frieze London 2012. Williams also presented Curator Cadaver Cake as part of Frieze Projects, in association with Grizedale Arts. Conducting a live autopsy on a life-sized curator made from cake, complete with edible internal organs, it was one of the much talked about highlights of Frieze.
The inaugural Art13 London international art fair in March 2013 featured a dedicated performance booth designed by Bedwyr Williams, for which he also presented two performances.
Bedwyr Williams is a fitting choice for a challenging contemporary art arena such as the Venice Biennale. During the 2005 Biennale presentation of work in the space occupied by Wales in Venice on the Giudecca Island by Peter Finnemore, Paul Granjon, and Laura Ford in the exhibition Somewhere Else, Bedwyr Williams was awarded an artist placement commission by Cywaith Cymru Artworks Wales. This took place alongside the official exhibition as a complementary add-on. It built to a book and presentation on the Giudecca entitled BASTA, the Italian for "That’s Enough!" BASTA was a rueful and wry reflection on the homesickness of the artist in residence.
Bedwyr Williams’ exhibition in Venice will be curated by two of Wales’s leading galleries; MOSTYN and Oriel Davies and will be shown in the Ludoteca, midway between the critical exhibition sites for the Biennale of the Giardini and the Arsenale. This is the second time Wales has shown at the Ludoteca.
Amanda Farr, Director, Oriel Davies, says: "Bedwyr truly epitomizes that very rare being - an artist whose vision and clarity of thought forces us to look at the world differently. I can think of no better artist at this moment and of our particular time to represent Wales in Venice."
Alfredo Cramerotti, Director, MOSTYN, says: "Bedwyr is one of the artists of the moment. He brings himself to the forefront of a seemingly unsolvable puzzle - how to bridge, deal with and even solve the idea of the minor and the major, the particular and the universal."
The exhibition is commissioned and managed by the Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International with support and collaboration from the Welsh Government and British Council