-Diffusion Festival ‘Looking for america’ Opening 01/10/15

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The Diffusion festival is currently on across the city, and I was able to go and see the openings down in Cardiff bay last night. It was strange, despite it being a seemingly large international opening, there were not very many people around the Cardiff bay area. those that I did see waling around were wearing Wales tops, I assume coming back from somewhere where they had been watching the game against Fiji last night. This left me a bit disheartened, as I feel that the arts scene within Cardiff is somewhat neglected. Nevertheless, I kept my chin up and perused the varying galleries in order to see what was on offer in the ‘Downtown’ area of Cardiff’s arts scene.

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The first exhibition that I saw, and could be my favourite out of the entire bay area, was ‘I called her Lisa-Marie’ by Clementine Schneidermann. A strange, but endearing, set of photographs detailing the lives of Elvis fans, both in Porthcawl ( a small seaside town in Wales, where an Elvis festival is held every year) and in Grennland, Tennessee (the home of the rock and roll legend himself). There is something familiar between both the Welsh fans and those from across the Atlantic; each one utilises the legend of Elvis to create their own identity, and find connections between themselves and others. The faces of the older fans are morose, and carry within their visages the wears of experience. The image above shows a man who still holds onto a dream that so many others still do; a dream of freedom and liberation, headed by a man who could put fire into their souls through his music. A man is nothing without a dream; even if his dream has begun to fade away,

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This second image imbues a sense of nostalgia within me;  recognise the building he is standing against, and the beach behind him, as I would visit Porthcawl every summer as a child with my grandparents and cousin. The town holds a special place within my heart, and within my memories, and I can still remember all the little intricacies of the architecture and space within the site where I stayed with my grandparents; to the walk to Porthcawl town through the sand dunes, market and on into the town. Nostalgia over my childhood is something that I still hold close to myself, and I miss he carelessness of youth. As I grow older and older, I miss the fact that as a child, the world was still full of wonder and unknowing, instead of concern and responsibility. I can still remember the space within the front room area of the caravan, how large the swimming pool and amusement arcade used to be; as well as how delicious the food used to stay. However, I visited recently, and I realised how different it was to my memories. If one should not meed their idols, one should also not visit those areas that held close and moving memories, for fear of reality tainting those memories.

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An image of loss and environment; the human is not needed, yet their presence is still felt in the space

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This image is a fantastic piece of photography; the use of a soft filter diminishes the sharper lines within the picture, instead making the images appear ‘dream-like’ in essence. This child, of indeterminate gender, stares blankly at the camera. their mind seems to be a million miles away, yet they wear the clothes of a great hero. Do they wear it out of choice? or do they wear it out of pressure from a family member? I doubt the latter, but the possibility is always there. The child, is their own person, despite the addition of clothing aligned with another. The absent face promotes the idea that a child’s mind is always dreaming, as they remove themselves from world surrounding themselves as a means of hoping for another life, something fantastical.

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This piece was one of the other images that I really enjoyed from the exhibition, mainly for the rather dark and sombre tone of the image. I am not exactly sure where this image is taken, but it is not hard to believe that it is from a large industrial town here in Wales. The dark humour is reminiscent of some humour I have heard in the valleys, as well as reminiscent of the valleys and the bleak nature of them over the past 30 years. South Wales does not have much of an identity, specifically within the valleys, especially since Thatcher destroyed any mining industries within Wales. With the carpet of identity and destiny dragged out from underneath them; those who had solace in their identity, could no longer find any. This image is actually quite humorous, and that’s why I like it; much like the story of the bogeyman, or that of the monsters under a be; death always lies in wait for those who are curious. Fear is a great means of controlling humanity, especially children, who will believe anything.

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The final piece that I saw in the exhibitions and really appreciated was this installation by ‘Eva Schmeckenbecker’, a slide machine that cycles through images of doorways and windows. I stayed by the machine for a little while, sitting in the darkness of the room and watching the steady stream of images of doorways and windows from within the home. Each one depicted a different room, and each room had a different piece of outside it opened out onto. The soft glow from the outside world spilling into the room through nets or some form of filter on the opening; a door, beads, a curtain, blinds, a net… the list goes on. the light is soft, and welcoming, and yet tells the story of the life of one person. What they see outside of the window is hope, although the world outside is at once intimidating and confronting, the light tells us that it is okay to wander outside into it; to be bathed in this light is to be bathed in happiness. The rooms don’t tell anything but this light, and the objects within them. If there is something that links them, I do not know. Are these the rooms of killers? of the elderly? or are they simply linked purely through the fact that humans have settled here? I think, that that is enough. They hold the energy of people, and the hope of the race, and that is enough meaning for anybody.

What I found particularly strange, however, was the apparent lack of people viewing the openings. there was only a handful of people spread out across all the galleries down in the bay. There was a real air of entitlement as well, especially between the organisers of some of the galleries and the person running it, who I spoke to very briefly. It’s strange, the arts scene in Cardiff seems to be dying, or at the very least, with little representation, and this frustrates me a great deal.

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