FRIDAY 7 SEPTEMBER
Trust Nottingham to take the charge, or at least snatch the flame, from what was London’s summer of ceremony. We all know that World Event Young Artists, or WEYA, found it’s place on the Cultural Olympiad sister-ship to the Olympics but there’s something so uniquely Notts about this festival being so anathema to the happenings of the capital. While the one thousand exhibiting artists come from pole-to-pole, this isn’t about feverish competition between each nation. The mood here is a melting pot, not a quarrel of achievements and from Radford to Chilwell, the shared feelings are infectious.
With a buzzing welcome party in Sneinton Market filled with international arrivals mingling, it seemed the best time to whirl round the local galleries before they inflated with frantic merrymaking.
Surface Gallery, awaiting a live painter for the evening, looked a little spare but it wasn’t without more than a dash of talent adorning the hall. From the UK Yuiwei Vivian Zhang’s work, swirling landscapes of pattern and colour cram repetitive detail across their canvases with an ephemeral, captivating slant. Bleak but no less bold, Mexico’s Issac Munoz video art sets a slideshow loop of thumbnails from a cruising website to a slow, classical score, the music compounding the loneliness of each picture.
Strolling to One Thoresby St the feeling’s far edgier with their contribution “After the World Event”, an exploration of apocalyptic art that invites the audience into a world rebuilding itself through its own creativity.
As you enter, a projector counts down the days left for artist Charlie Penrose he serves before he can count himself the oldest man in the world – a gruff, tangible reminder of mortality that stretches across the gallery. South Korean photographer Mok Jung Wook shoots the towering implosion of tower blocks in busy city squares, their destruction unnoticed by its inhabitants, a surreal vision of society eating itself. This shows imagination and humour is an early contender for best-in-show.
Winding down in the evening at Backlit Studios with a spoken word concert, the purpose of it all suddenly reaches out. I don’t and can’t understand a word of most of the performances – Spanish language poetry and prose is for now beyond my skill set. However, sitting among the atmosphere of the audience and their captivation you can be sure to turn up wherever you like and absorb a vivid, spiriting world. This early on, WEYA is shaping up to be hugely important for both artists and the city.
SATURDAY 8 SEPTEMBER
Avoiding the hectic city shopping crowds Saturday afternoon provided a perfect opportunity for a dash around some of the many visual art exhibitions on as part of WEYA. A somewhat whirlwind adventure, around a globe of international artworks, the majority of the venues visited gave the feeling of a rich multicultural collection of art.
A highlight of the exhibition visits was Bill Balaskas's visually stunning large scale video projection Parthenon Rising showing at Surface Gallery. Greek born and now UK based, Balaskas’s installations often reflect upon the global economic crisis and capitalist world. Stepping into the dark cinematic space Parthenon Rising provides a striking visual experience of the Parthenon at night through the flashes of tourist cameras which cause momentarily illumination. The work is both of a portrait the iconic ancient temple and too one of the diverse crowds of tourists who visit seeking to capture a glimpse, a snapshot of its image.
The afternoon ended in Waverly Theatre with a stunning performance by Singapore collective OFFCUT performing their improvised multi-disciplinary piece Books. Four shadowy figures on stage effortlessly lulled the audience into an otherworldly state of consciousness in the theatres intimate enclosed setting. A meditation of live and looped instruments generated momentum broken with occasional spoken word poetically theorising in a stream of consciousness. Overhead the performance was drawn together with live projections, both from an overhead projector, a wash of colour and shape performed, alongside video projection responding to the audio with a mélange of sourced and shot footage, ever seeking aural and visual cohesion. Back out into the daylight, the audience walking away in a lingering trance.
SUNDAY 9 SEPTEMBER
Well worth a visit is the Photographers’ Hub, which is hosting work from six international artists, including 22-year-old Kamarulzaman Bin Moamed Sapiee from Singapore. His photograph, People, People, People, features QR codes that obscure faces in a crowd. When scanned, the codes link to videos and text messages that share some of the artist’s thoughts.
If you’re planning to visit the WEYA exhibition at Lakeside Arts Centre, don’t be too freaked out if you bump into a man in a black morphsuit. Between 2pm and 3pm, Thai artist Rook Floro becomes part of his own artwork, creating a sculpture and performance piece entitled Shadow. Inspired by Jungian psychology, the piece depicts the ‘perfect’ self that the artist wishes to become. The sculpture is made from a thick web of hardened black glue and, fittingly, was cast using a mannequin. While the front is intimidating, the back is left open and it’s easy to imagine slipping into the mould. As the artist sits behind the sculpture, the black trail leading up to and over his feet, the two figures become eerily adjoined.
OTHER SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS
First up was the bizarrely-named Ex-Easter Island Heads, three guys from Liverpool who ensured that the Broadway Cafebar was full of eager spectators.
Their piece, entitled Mallet Guitars 3, begun with the musicians scraping a piece of metal over the strings of horizontal electric guitars to background music. Cowbells also made an appearance, as did the light tapping of cymbals, enhancing the somewhat mystical vibe. The pitch and tempo varied throughout, but real rhythm was given to the piece through the skilled drumming that relieved the mystique of Mallet Guitars 3.
As the lights went up and the Ex-Easter Island Heads relaxed their concentration, I dashed to the Old Market Square to watch a musical performance by Medu/Usuthu of South Africa. In tribal costume and accompanied by drums, this group of artists caught the attention of a large crowd with their athletic and agile moves and shouts. It was an energetic show for a small group of performers with plenty of audience participation as they approached different members of the crowd, eventually pulling girls and women into the centre to dance with them. A humorous and uplifting show.
WEYA continues until 16 Sept. Further coverage from us will go online later this week