Nominations – about 18 months before the exhibition
The process begins with an open call for nominations. Nominations come from all over the world, submitted by Curators, Directors of Museums and Galleries, other cultural organisations and members of the public.
To be considered for the Artes Mundi Exhibition and Prize artists must have already achieved recognition for the quality of their work in their own country or sphere and are on the way to developing a high profile international career. Their practice must engage with ideas of humanity, social reality and lived experience. The last description is taken as broadly as possible, and can be executed in a diverse range of media.
Nominations are not restricted by age or nationality, but artists cannot nominate themselves. Artists can be nominated more than once, however only those artists whose work and status fulfils the criteria for selection are considered.
Shortlisting – about 13 months before the exhibition
Artes Mundi invites a panel of selectors, usually curators of international standing, to review the list of nominations. This is narrowed down to a longlist and then to a shortlist of between 5 and 7 artists to take part in the biennial exhibition and prize.
When considering the list of nominated artists the selectors undertake their own research. They visit international visual arts events, make studio visits as well as having lengthy discussions with each other and Artes Mundi. The shortlist is announced about a year before to the exhibition opening.
Exhibition – takes place every two years.
The Artes Mundi Exhibition takes place at National Museum Cardiff and, occasionally, in other venues across Cardiff. The exhibition is made up of works, existing or new, selected by the curator in discussion with the artists. Planning begins as soon as the shortlist has been announced.
Every exhibition is underpinned by an extensive programme of formal and informal learning activities for all ages. A unique and intrinsic part of this programme is the use of Exhibition Guides – a group of education professionals dedicated to developing expertise around one exhibition. The in-depth training the Exhibition Guides receive, including meeting the shortlisted artists, allows visitors first-hand knowledge and interpretation that is only one step removed from meeting the artists themselves. The Exhibition Guides work across a whole range of activities, forming the ‘front line’ of the exhibition and developing activities that contribute to the learning programme.
The Artes Mundi Exhibition also opens up a number of opportunities for local artists in the form of networking and professional development. Each cycle Artes Mundi looks for applicants for the LiveGuide programme, Workshop Leaders and for volunteer placements. The shortlisted artists, selectors and judges are taken on studio visits and to local galleries opening up networking opportunities. There is also a conference held in conjunction with each exhibition creating a platform for debate; an event created especially for people starting out their careers offering them the opportunity to respond critically to the exhibition.
Prize Awarding and Judging
The winner of the Artes Mundi Prize is decided by a group of independent judges. Made up of international curators, directors and critics, the judging panel comes together shortly before the prize awarding. As well as visiting the exhibition they consider each shortlisted artist’s practice over the previous 5-8 years. The judges award the prize to a single artist who, in their view, consistently makes thought-provoking work of exceptional quality that fits within the criteria of the prize.
The sum of £40,000 is designed to allow the winner, at an important stage in their career, the freedom to develop substantial new work or the time to reflect their practice and move it forward.
The judging and prize awarding takes place approximately a month before the exhibition closes.