The first piece we encounter on entering the Artes Mundi 8 exhibition is an installation by Anna Boghiguian (b1946, Cairo) exploring the steel industry and its impact on human civilisation.
A Meteor Fell from the Sky (2018) unfolds like a scattered, collaged storybook, with intensely figured drawings, slices of shimmering sheet steel, Boghiguian’s signature paper cut-outs (hard-hatted steel workers), some perching precariously on industrial structures, and mini-meteors created from mesh, concrete and paint, all set against a vibrant background wall colouring of intense pink, yellow and blue; these are the same colours that apparently burn so brightly against the darkness and clamour of a steel foundry.
Anna Boghiguian, A Meteor Fell from the Sky, 2018, installation view, Artes Mundi 8, National Museum Cardiff, 2018. Photo: Polly Thomas.
The Egyptian-born Boghuiguian is said to live a nomadic life and, for this piece – with the encouragement of Artes Mundi founder and curator Karen MacKinnon - she travelled to India and also to Port Talbot in Wales, to draw out stories of the associated steel magnates and their workers.
Anna Boghiguian, A Meteor Fell from the Sky, 2018, installation view, Artes Mundi 8, National Museum Cardiff, 2018. Photo: Martin Kennedy
On one wall, she has handwritten one of several subtexts, describing how: “The industrial revolution … has transformed itself to digital revolution and virtual reality (new ways to interact, to think, to be). The mind has become a machine that responds to the input downloaded by the public. The public opinion becomes the police force that decides the moral/ethical values of our being. Treating people as criminals.”
• The Artes Mundi exhibition runs until 24 February 2019 at the National Museum Cardiff. The prize announcement will be on 24 January 2019.
Interview by VERONICA SIMPSON
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY