Live art festival returns with biggest line-up ever

It has always pushed the boundaries, but this year the Experimentica festival at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff will be extending its reach through collaborations across the city.

The five-day event kicks off today with a whole host of provocative works taking place at the centre in Canton and beyond.

With financial support from Arts Council Wales and Cardiff Contemporary – a council initiative which aims to make the city a world leader in art and culture – organisers are hoping the 11th annual festival will be the best yet with more of a thrust on reaching public spaces.

The extremely varied programme of events ranges from installation, film and video to sound art, dance and theatre and explores the theme of 'the unseen'.

Cathy Gordon, Moles Dancing, 2012, which explores blindness

It is also supported by a season of films celebrating 100 years of the British Board of Film Classification, and a collaborative schedule of events as part of Artes Mundi 5.

Chapter's head of visual and live arts, Hannah Firth, told me that she hopes the festival will be the most immersive ever.

"There's something for everybody. For some of it people can buy passes and enjoy scheduled events but there is also a lot of activity happening around the cafe at Chapter so people can soak up the atmosphere and come along and chat to the artists.

"We have invited two Cardiff artists, Kathryn Ashill and Sam Hasler, to the festival to help annotate it as part of the Backwards Thinking strand.

"They will lead a number of artist-led, artist-focused discussions exploring some of the key works and ideas for Experimentica 2012 in the cafe and connecting the audiences with the artists.

"This year we are presenting a range of exciting works that in some way consider the notion of 'the unseen': the challenging; the experimental; the genre defining.

"'Unseen' is a catalyst for ideas and an opportunity to explore the often hidden or ignored – the spaces between and on the edge."

The festival has also commissioned artist Phil Collins to produce a new artwork for Chapter's lightbox, which will provide a backdrop to his video installation called This Unfortunate Thing Between Us.

This installation will be broadcast live twice outside Chapter's entrance in two second-hand caravans. It has already been shown in Berlin and broadcast live on German digital television.

Phil Collins

According to the Chapter brochure the installation acts as "an alternative home shopping channel selling real life experiences at promotional prices in place of mass produced commodities."

Featuring a soundtrack by Gruff Rhys and Y Niwl, it will mimic the recognisable teleshopping format with pitches, demonstrations and live phone-ins.

On Thursday Phil Collins will be in discussion with the artist, writer and curator Jason Bowman at Chapter.

The arts centre has also commissioned a new piece of work called Into The Distance by the Cornwall-based artists Alexandra Zierle and Paul Carter which is being shown in the Castle Arcade.

Zierle & Carter, Into The Distance. Photo: Sarah Bowden

According to the brochure it is "anchored in an exploration of the intangible, invisible, the unseen, the personal and the collective.

"Directly challenging 'acceptable' modes of intimacy, the work hopes to open up a dialogue around the notion of exchange."

As part of Experimentica, Chapter has also invited Artes Mundi to curate a programme of films by some of this year's shortlisted artists, with one being shown each day and also offering a response to the 'unseen' theme.

Hannah added: "Experimentica is a fantastic opportunity to see a huge range of performance and interdisciplinary art by practitioners from Wales and around the world – it promises to be a thought-provoking and inspiring few days."

"The collection of films that is being shown to celebrate 100 years of the British Board of Film Classification also echoes the theme with some challenging films, that have been heavily cut or banned, on show."

Throughout the festival Cardiff-based artist Laura Sorvala will document events through illustrations drawn on the cafe's walls.

The full schedule of events is available to download from Chapter's website. A five-day festival pass is £40/£25 or daily tickets are available for £12/£10/£8.


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