Naomi Heath talks about responding to Artes Mundi 6

A blog post – An attempt. Having been asked to write a guest post about my experience responding to Artes Mundi #6. I was full of vigour. Confident even. Then I realised the problem – how to keep this short when I am not sure even where to begin? It’s hard to quantify or qualify the exact narrative that will escape these fingertips at the best of times.

So what is Response Time?  You could say “The Response Time project is a 48 hour challenge for performance makers from a wide range of mediums to respond to the art, space and environment of a Gallery producing a performed response which is shared with an audience.” However, for me as an artist it’s the opportunity to share creatively, collaborate and engage with art.

Why do I participate? Over many Responses Times I have had the pleasure to get to know  some incredibly passionate and talented artists in many mediums. Also, I admire Sandra Bendelow, who has lovingly created a platform for emerging and established artists to collaborate through this Response Time project. This platform allows for new narratives about art that are both mental and physical.

Why participate in a Response to Artes Mundi? Artes Mundi is a deeply important exhibition of works that are important to the culture of Wales. I could go on for hours about this, however I promised to make this blog post short.

How did I feel getting there? Well I got there. The National Museum of Wales. I had found myself lost at the gaping large pillars hold the mouth of the temple. In a place of countless ideas, knowledge and secrets – where the walls whisper here as the space expands.

I panicked.

Inside the time tested monument of history sat the contemporary –  Artes Mundi #6,  is of course a breath taking and meaningful exhibition.

This made responding difficult, for the following reasons:

1. I wanted to respond to the building

2. I wanted to respond to every piece of art here

3. I needed to research but wasted(?) at least two hours being overwhelmed.

What kind of artist am I? I  have my fingers firmly in many pies, I am however sadly not a pie-maker.  Basically, I do everything and anything – but not pies.

What did I choose to respond to? I chose to respond to the wonderful work of Renzo Martens and the Institute of Human Activites.

How and why did I respond to this? Performance poetry was the only way I felt I could respond.

The work was a beautiful, impacting and meaningful. The room was filled with chocolate sculptures – the sculptures were self portraits  originally out of clay by plantation workers – then digitally printed. This work really resonated with me, not only on a sensory level (the smell was to put it bluntly – delicious). It impacted me, it was empowering communities, was deeply multi layered in meaning and was bitter-sweet.

I admired this work,  it made me consider my actions and way of life.

Here is my response in full…

Please do not touch the Exhibits

I want to eat all the sculptures,

Devour chocolate statues and incantations across this –

Cosmic Rift,

Until my mouth is filled with bitter-sweet melancholy.

Warm chocolate oozing across my cold teeth and sharp tongue.


The  luxurious earth rising through the soil.

Vanilla scent of clay in each space of word.

I am vulnerable.

Here amongst the exotic forms – repackaged and redefined.

Memories of communities forever stacked in minds eye.

Now boxed and ready for transformation into a new age.

I want to rummage my face in the kiss hold.

Transmit digital waves of folkloric.

Statues once analogue now binary.
Now ready to pass through the medium of many.

A modern subversion.

Floral scents of affection fill the air

-A shared breath exhaling words once energy.

Once energy consumed –

Each molecule of water, across the thousand spaces in between share one moment.

The distortion of contours that are and were landscape.


Protect the cultures now reshaped by their own communities hands.

And, Please do not touch the exhibits.

Songs of melody form cultural understanding.

The trees in humidity basked in light dancing like puppetry.

Can I bite this?

Can I perform the dance of speculation?

Alleviate my guilt into ethical promise.

Deliver me to the bodies fertile, ground rich, shadows –


Working deep in rivers bed I was but sleepwalking –

Chasing the moons edge on tide.

Can I put a whole sculpture in my mouth until I choke and become the ground?

Root the reach of their land shape.

Infinite is this secondary glance within a spectrum of light – made of fruit.

Turn and pose look,

Pass the choreography  –

Hold the chin

And bite.

Many thanks to all at Artes Mundi, National Museum Wales, Scriptography and of course the marvellous people that came.

Response Time will be responding again at the Turner House Gallery on Thursday 11th December.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s