Visit Africa at the 59th Venice Biennale

The 59th Venice Biennale has announced its list of participating pavilions. We are thrilled to see the list of participating countries from Africa! This year from the African continent, we have Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Egypt, and for the first time, Uganda and Cameroon will present in their own pavilion.

Have you already noted down the list of pavilions you plan to visit? Here are some ideas on where to go to view contemporary art from Africa.

Na Chainkua Reindorf, Lara, 2021

Ghana | Black Star – The Museum As Freedom

The Ghana pavilions exhibition is titled  “Black Star—The Museum as Freedom,” which will be curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim. The title is connected to the black star in the center of the Ghanian flag, which symbolizes freedom from colonialism. The exhibition will include participating artists Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope, and Diego Araúja.

Location: Arsenale

Cameroon | The Time Of The Chimeras 

For its first participation at the Venice Biennale, Cameroon will be spotlighting NFTs. The theme “The Time of the Chimeras” will be curated by Paul Emmanuel Loga Mahop and Sandro Orlandi Stagl to design its national pavilion. The Cameroon Pavilion at the Biennale, unlike most pavilions, is not funded by the Cameroonian government (although it was commissioned by the Cameroonian Ministry of Culture). The pavilion is sponsored by the Global Crypto Art collective DAO. 

Location: Liceo Artistico Statale Michelangelo Guggenheim & Palazzo Ca’ Bernardo

Côte d’Ivoire | The Dreams Of A Story 

The Côte d’Ivoire pavillon, narrates and examines the complex contemporary geo-political and socio-economic landscape with the theme ”The dreams of a story”, curated by Massimo Scaringella and Alessandro Romanini, Commissioner: Henri Koffissé N’koumo. Exhibitors: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Abdoulaye Diarrassouba dit Aboudia, Armand Boua, Saint-Etienne Yéanzi dit Yeanzi, Laetitia Ky, Aron Demetz.

Location: Magazzino del Sale 3, Dorsoduro 264

Kenya | Exercises In Conversation

There still has not been an official announcement for the 2022 Kenyan Pavilion. However, the pavilion will hold the theme ”Exercises in Conversation” which will be curated by Jimmy Ogonga, Commissioner: Kiprop Lagat; Exhibitors: Dickens Otieno, Syowia Kyambi, Kaloki Nyamai, Wanja Kimani

Location: Sede: Fàbrica 33, Cannaregio 5063

Roger Ballen, Bite, 2007

South Africa | Into The Light

The South African Pavilion was created around the theme of “Into the Light.” This merges with the Biennale exhibition theme The Milk of Dreams, adding the elements of solitude and isolation from COVID-19 lockdowns and using this as a vehicle for artists to embark on the process of focused self-evaluation. This year, the South African Pavillion team is Roger Ballen, Lebohang Kganye, Phumulani Ntuli, Amè Bell, Thuli Mlambo-James and Grace Rapholo. 

Location: Arsenale

Collin Sekajugo, Stock Image 017 – I Own Everything, 2019–22.

Uganda | Radiance: They Dream In Time

Participating at the Venice Biennale for the first time, Uganda has lined up two Kampala-based artists as its first-ever representatives: Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo.  Acaye’s work analyzes gender and labor in Africa, while Collin paints stock imagery to challenge ideas on race. The team will be exploring the theme ”They Dream in Time” which will be curated by Shaheen Merali.

Location: Palazzo Palumbo Fossati, San Marco 2597

Zimbabwe | I Did Not Leave A Sign

The Zimbabwe Pavilion will take the theme “I did not leave a sign” which will be curated by Fadzai Veronica Muchemwa. The theme aims to question and challenge the way knowledge is communicated. Whether one takes the scientific approach or through faith there is no ideal course. Commissioner: Raphael Chikukwa, National Gallery of Zimbabwe Exhibitors: Wallen Mapondera, Ronald Muchatuta, Kresiah Mukwazhi, Terrence Musekiwa

Location: Santa Maria della Pietà, Calle della Pietà

Egypt | Eden-Like Garden 

The Egyptian pavilion will take on the surrealist theme “Eden Like Garden” curated by Mohamed Shoukry. Exhibitors: Mohamed Shoukry, Weaam El Masry, Ahmed El Shaer. Although we know little about the exhibition, we can only speculate that it will be some sort of installation incorporating digital technology, media and artificial intelligence.

Location: Giardini

Additional Tips | Three Must-See Venice African Art Exhibitions: 

Installation view of “Marlene Dumas: open-end” courtesy of the Pinault Collection.

Marlene Dumas, Open-end

The exhibition, titled “open-end”, is curated by Caroline Bourgeois in collaboration with Marlene Dumas. It brings together over 100 works and explores her whole pictorial production, with a selection of paintings and drawings made between 1984 and today, including unseen works made in the last few years.

Location: Palazzo Grassi, Campo San Samuele, 3231

Kehinde Wiley, An Archaeology of Silence

Curated by Christophe Leribault, An Archaeology of Silence includes an array of new monumental paintings and sculptures, extending on Kehinde Wiley’s body of work DOWN from 2008. Originally inspired by Holbein’s painting The Dead Christ in the Tomb as well as historical paintings and sculptures of fallen warriors and figures in the state of repose.

Location: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Sale del convitto, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, 30133

The Soul Expanding Ocean | Dineo Seshee Bopape & Diana Policarpo 

Academy introduces two new commissions by South Africa-born Dineo Seshee Bopape and Portuguese-born Diana Policarpo for the 2022 exhibition program at Ocean Space in Venice. Both commissions give voice and presence to the Ocean as a repository of colonial histories where storylines interconnect past, present and future. Narratives are told by microorganisms and algae and their coexistence ever since the early stages of evolution, rocks, voices, images in movement like the waves, and the earth that holds the memory and the substance of past actions that damaged life in many ways. 

Location: Ocean Space, Campo San Lorenzo, 5069

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