Bedwyr Williams and Bea McMahon

Bedwyr Williams and Bea McMahon

Salzburger Kunstverein

Bedwyr Williams, Echt, 2014.

September 24, 2014

Bedwyr Williams: Echt
Bea McMahon: Cover

4 October–30 November 2014

Opening: Friday 3 October, 8pm; artists in attendance

Performance: Saturday 4 October, 4:30pm
Bea McMahon: Warped Woof + Light Laws
Artist talk: Saturday 4 October, 5–6pm
Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith in conversation with Bedwyr Williams and Bea McMahon

Salzburger Kunstverein
Hellbrunner Straße 3
5020 Salzburg
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday noon–7pm

Curated by Séamus Kealy

Echt is a multi-faceted installation by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams. As a collaboration between the Salzburger Kunstverein and other institutions, the project began in Mostyn, North Wales, continued onto Tramway as part of the Glasgow International Festival, stopped in Dublin at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and will complete itself, in a way, in Salzburg.

Audiences will experience a total installation at the Salzburger Kunstverein, including a performative element in the Ringgalerie that surrounds the central exhibition hall, which itself contains several video installations and sculptural works, including one video performance that the artist crafted this summer in Salzburg.

Bedwyr continually references the body and its conundrums of dealing with existence today. Misfitting language or failed conceptions of desire emerge endlessly into the frame of his work. We might see this, in one regard, to be an ongoing attempt to comprehend and deal with the Real, as it rears its head in any and every possible waking moment. But along with this journey, so to speak, is a continual relationship to pleasure. That is, one’s helplessness in the face of it all does not necessarily mean that one gives in. Rather, one continues on; plodding through the muck, straining one’s ears to hear what is really being said, looking over what appears before you with apprehension and bemusement. Elements of these means of cognitive survival appear and re-appear in Bedwyr’s work, speaking to us in a very personal manner, through his voice, through his person, and through his story-telling.

“And there in the middle of it all is Bedwyr himself, madcap visionary, artist-cum-poet out of whose conscious all this is streaming as he lies dreaming on the floor of the emergency sports hall surrounded by the snoring forms of hundreds of pensioners, their kindliness and wisdom a comfort in the present crisis. At one point he remarks that there is nobody left to satirise the bad, so they just get worse. But this is Williams’s own role—his own great Swiftian achievement.”
–The Guardian, 2014

Combining reflections on cultural behaviour and difference, existential wanderings, irrational considerations for after the apocalypse, among other things, and always self-reflexive, we encounter in Bedwyr’s project forms of “truth” that are both unavoidable and equally faced by the artist in an absurdist, resigned manner. What makes it all bearable is the artist’s comic approach to it all.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new artist book co-produced with the touring partners and the Welsh Arts Council.

Bedwyr Williams was born in Wales in 1974. His work combines installation art, video and references to stand-up comedy. He studied at St Martins School of Art in London and Ateliers, Arnhem, Netherlands. In 2004 he won a Paul Hamlyn Award for the Visual Arts and was nominated as one of Britain’s most promising artists by The Guardian. In 2005 he was Welsh artist-in-residence at the Venice Biennale and he was shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures prize in 2006. He represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2013 with his astonishing project The Starry Messenger.

Bea McMahon: Cover
The Salzburger Kunstverein is proud to present the first exhibition of Irish artist Bea McMahon in Austria. Bea McMahon (b. 1972, Ireland) received a Masters in Visual Arts Practice from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design in 2007. Prior to that, she completed a primary degree in pure mathematics at Trinity College Dublin (1994) and a Master’s degree in mathematical physics at University College Dublin (1997). She recently completed the two-year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, where she now lives and works.

McMahon works with video, drawing, painting, installation and performance art. Her work often navigates through conceptions of reality and their corresponding appearances in the outside world. Trained in the sciences, Bea McMahon employs versions and associations of mathematics and physics that play with distinctions between objects, space and time, while resonating with aspects of memory, histories of knowledge, poetry, memory, human emotions, arcane languages, and other associations that mingle with our contemporary world.

“In her exhibition, Cover, Irish artist Bea McMahon addresses, in a characteristically diffuse manner, the regulatory institution of The Law and the distinctions made in its name, including who or what might be deemed to lie outside it. As an Irish artist with a strong, if esoteric sense of history, who has lived in the Netherlands for some years but also recently spent time working in Italy, McMahon is alert to the vectors of atavistic allegiance and alienation through which we habitually distinguish ourselves from others. Here she reaches back to the pre-Socratic philosophy of Anaxagoras, who posited the origin of the cosmos as a result of the ordering force of Mind (Nous) as it separated the primordial soup into distinct ingredients, before picking up the Biblical figure of the “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and then elaborating on that canine imagery via a bouncy liturgical ditty titled “Beasts in Disco,” which features a gravely intoned litany of disparate dog’s coats. McMahon’s densely allusive installation also registers a long-term fascination with the medieval figure of the insular Irish poet, who ritually composed in darkness with a boulder on his belly, as well as a more recent concentration on the fraught history of the early 20th century as it unfolded across the continent of Europe.” 
–Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith

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Salzburger Kunstverein
September 24, 2014

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