Early autumn is the start of the art season. Artes Mundi, the Wales International Exhibition and Prize, this year curiously opened its show on Oct. 6 [through Jan. 13], after the Turner Prize's and before Frieze, a scheduling strategy that makes comparisons to the Turner difficult to avoid.

The Cardiff art crowd and a small representation of the international art world gathered at the National Museum Cardiff on Thursday evening to launch Artes Mundi 5. The show's 2012 outing marked both the 10-year anniversary of the organization and the first edition under the new directorship of Ben Borthwick, formerly of the Tate. Artes Mundi prize, whose $52,000 cash prize makes it the most generous contemporary art prize in the UK. The Turner Prize offers $32,000 to its winner.

Wales's National Museum opened in July 2011, and Artes Mundi 5 is the first edition to occur in the museum's new contemporary art galleries, and the first edition to partner with Chapter, a multidisciplinary art center in Cardiff. Artists shortlisted for the prize are Miriam Bäckström (Sweden), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Phil Collins (UK), Sheela Gowda (India), Teresa Margolles (Mexico), Darius Mikšys (Lithuania) and Apolonija Šušteršič (Slovenia). Artists were selected by Anders Kreuger, curator at MUHKA in Antwerp, Belgium and Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, curator of contemporary art at Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York.

Bruguera worked almost entirely outside of the gallery space, in a continuation of her Immigrant Movement International 2010-2015, which explores the role of the immigrant through a temporary light monument to immigrants, the giving away of a symbolic ribbon and a poster campaign in central Cardiff. Taking the city of Cardiff as starting point, Šušteršič's Politics In Space/Tiger Bay Project (2012) is a video installation that engages a number of individuals and organizations involved in the redevelopment of the Cardiff Bay area in exploring the area's past and proposed future. Mikšys's The Code (2012) deconstructs an essay from the exhibition catalogue to come up with search terms, which are then used to create an installation composed of artifacts from the National Museum's collection. Bäckström's Smile as if we have already won (2012) is an enormous tapestry made to reflect how a room might appear if viewed as a number of mirrored fragments.

Alongside these newly commissioned pieces, the exhibition includes Collins's free fotolab (2009), a slideshow of images provided by  individuals from various European cities who responded to Collins's offer to develop their undeveloped rolls of film free of charge and This Unfortunate Thing Between Us (2011), an installation in a caravan including a video based on the format of teleshopping channels. Gowda's installation Kagebangara (2008) features tar drums sourced from Indian road workers alongside yellow and blue tarpaulins, while Margolles creates a somber atmosphere with a number of installations that reflect upon the economy of death, including Plancha (2010), which involves water that has been used to cleanse bodies in a Mexican morgue dripping, and slowly sizzling, on a ho tplate.

The winner of the prize will be decided by a jury chaired by Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions, White Cube, London, on Nov. 29.


Miriam Bäckström, Smile as if we have Already Won (2012) (wide angle). Cotton, wool, silk and lurex ©Courtesy Miriam Bäckström. Photo: Wales News Picture