The Art Fund International scheme, launched in 2007, allocated six museums across the UK up to £1m to invest in acquisitions from international artists over a period of five years. The successful collections were Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with The New Art Gallery Walsall, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) and Towner, Eastbourne.
This Hayward Touring exhibition, curated by internationally renowned curator David Elliott, recognises the vital importance of continuing to enrich collections of contemporary art throughout the country. The tour will culminate in Bristol and will be presented over two venues: Arnolfini in partnership with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Jeremy Lewison, Arnolfini Trustee, and Tom Trevor, Arnolfini former director, provided pro bono advice to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in the acquisition process.
Focusing on socially engaged art practices in a global context, Art from Elsewhere features around 70 works by 39 internationally celebrated artists from 22 countries in a variety of media including works on paper, video, sculpture and painting and by some of the most important and culturally diverse artists working today (Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Ai Weiwei, Shilpa Gupta, and Józef Robakowski). The exhibition also features works by seminal figures in the history of conceptual art such as Robert Smithson, Ana Mendieta, and Carl Andre,and several important young voices enter British museums for the first time, such as Emily Jacir, Yto Barrada and Mohamed Bourouissa.
Amongst the art collected, the curator has discovered common themes that are investigated by the artists. They explore particular experience in conflict zones, living under oppressive governments or negotiating emerging capitalist economies, yet even with these common subjects they are diverse in media and approach, and have a particularly strong local focus. Their works reflect on the realities of global change and post-colonial experiences, through the cultural degradations of capitalism and totalitarian dictatorships, to the political complexities of post-colonial struggles and the ongoing rise of fundamentalist belief systems. They also examine the question of failed utopias, proposing new ideas of exchange and value for the common good.