Wales & Venice Biennale, David Drake, Ffotogallery

April 25, 2015 by

An artist who is highly regarded internationally and in Wales, Helen Sear has worked with Ffotogallery and Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice 2015 to create a suite of new work entitled …the rest is smoke that is both rooted in the local and familiar landscapes of Wales, and also specifically conceived for the spaces in the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, responding to the wider context of the Venice Biennale. It builds on the exciting new developments in the artist’s practice witnessed over the last few years, in particular Sear’s refinement of a site-specific approach combining photography, sculpture, video and mixed media installation.

Ffotogallery is the national development agency for photography and lens based media in Wales. Established in 1978, the organisation delivers a year round exhibition programme at various sites in Cardiff and Penarth, other parts of Wales and internationally, with an extensive education and outreach programme and various publishing activities. Ffotogallery initiated and runs the biennial Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography, and the European Prospects co-operation project, funded by the EU Culture Programme.

As a national organisation, Ffotogallery’s view is rooted in Wales but outward looking, with an exhibition programme featuring lens-based artists from Wales and the rest of the world. Whilst photography remains at the heart of our artistic programmes, Ffotogallery works with a wide range of media, including film and video, music, digital media and installation.

Ffotogallery has supported and worked closely with the artist Helen Sear over a number of years, including publishing her 30 year retrospective publication Inside the View in 2012, which was launched in Cardiff, London and New York and led to further European and North American exhibitions of the artist’s work. Presenting …the rest is smoke at the Venice Biennale 2015 delivers well against Ffotogallery’s mission to develop the practice, enjoyment and understanding of contemporary photography and lens-based media, in Wales and beyond.

Following on from Ffotogallery’s recent presentation of work by artists from Wales in Germany, the United States, France and Lithuania, the Venice Biennale provides a fitting platform for a significant lens-based artist living and working in Wales whose work reflects the contemporary art world’s prevailing interest in ‘expanded’ notions of photography, with an emphasis on the materiality of the photographic image and a convergence of media in terms of site specific installation.

Ffotogallery’s overall aim is to enrich the experience of audiences and participants through artistic and educational programmes that are distinctive, innovative and stimulating.

In addition to presenting distinctive and innovative artworks by one of Wales’ most exciting contemporary artists, through publishing and educational activities we will contextualise the work, encouraging deeper audience engagement in Venice, Wales and internationally. Augmenting Ffotogallery’s exhibition presentations and associated events, our publishing activities contribute to wider critical debate about contemporary art in Wales and globally. Ffotogallery’s online presence is also strong, both in terms of web-based content and the use of social media. With our considerable specialist editorial and art publishing experience, an existing catalogue of over 60 titles and an international distribution arrangement in place, Ffotogallery will be publishing a limited edition book to accompany Helen Sear’s presentation at Venice. We will also offer a corresponding online presentation of the project on the site www.experiencewalesinvenice.org to engage global audiences with the work, as well as those who are able to experience the work physically in Venice and Wales.

Wales’ presence at the Biennale gives a platform for visual art from Wales on the world’s most prestigious international stage. Benefits and opportunities are reflected back into Wales through the strategic commissioning of Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice exhibition and related programmes; including Invigilator Plus, travel bursaries provided by Wales Arts International, educational resources as well as talks, events, links, and where appropriate, a re-staging of the exhibition produced for the Biennale back in Wales.

The Venice Biennale is critically important for the profile, reputation and future careers of artists selected to represent Wales and for the image of Wales as a country that seeks to promote its contemporary culture worldwide, distinguishing Wales’ cultural profile with high quality art.

David Drake,

Director, Ffotogallery

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