The 58th Venice Biennale has opened, running from May 11 – November 24, 2019. The art world is abuzz with excitement about what participating artists and national pavilions are showing. Curated by Ralph Rugoff and titled ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’, the international exhibition features 83 artists, including collectives, from around the world, “who challenge existing habits of thoughts and open up our reading of images, gestures and situations”. Of the artists selected to participate in the central exhibition, the African artists are, Njideka Crosby-Akunyili (Nigeria), Zanele Muholi (South Africa), Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria), Michael Armitage (Kenya) Julie Mehretu (Ethiopia), and Kemang Wa Lehulere (South Africa). Also featured at the biennale, are 87 national participations at the biennale with the African countries being Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Seychilles, South Africa, Zimbabwe and then, Ghana and Madagascar, both making their debut at the biennale.
Thus far, here are some highlights, notable mentions and acknowledgement on some of the featured participations from Africa.
The Ghana Pavilion has made a remarkable debut at the biennale and as such has been ranked among the top 10 must see pavilions at the biennale by Artsy. Curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim and designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, using soil imported from Ghana. The exhibition is titled ‘Ghana Freedom’ and showcases works by six of Ghana’s most recognized artists: El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama with stunning installation works at its entrance, new portraits by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are in conversation with studio photographs and self-portraits by Ghana’s foremost female photographer, Felica Abban, from the 1960s to 1970s; and John Akomfrah’s three-channel installation, “The Elephant in the Room – Four Nocturnes” (2019) and Selasi Awusi Sosu’s “Glass Factory II” (2019) offering moving, fragmented accounts of post-colonial histories through poetic visuals that survey the African cultural landscape in all its complexities.
Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria), received special mentions award for her work at the exhibition, “May You Live in Interesting Times”.
See some photos below.