The Golden Lions were awarded in Venice

Berlin – British Sonia Boyce and American Simone Leigh received on Saturday the most important prizes of the Venice Biennale in the lagoon city with two Golden Lions. The Swiss national pavilion went empty-handed.

On the other hand there have been awards for the Ugandan national pavilion and Lebanese artist Ali Cherri. Düsseldorf artist Katharina Fritsch also received a Golden Lion for her work of life.

Boyce received the award for her work in the British pavilion. She also sees the award as a sign of the international black art scene. “We are here. We will not leave anymore,” Boyce told the German Press Agency in Venice about the importance of the award. There is a huge amount of talent among colored artists.

Boyce, who is also a professor of black art and design, has been an important figure in the fight for recognition for female artists and against racism for decades. In the British pavilion she shows the power of female singing with her work “Feeling Her Way”.

Long queues in front of the France pavilion

The French pavilion also received a special greeting, in front of which long queues of interested people have been created in the premises of the Biennale. In the rooms, curated by the two directors of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira uses reconstructed scenes in a mix of documents and fabrications to analyze issues of political unrest and feminism.

The American Leigh is represented twice, she has also designed the national pavilion for the US, in which she confidently addresses the role and awakening of the black community with her large-format sculptures.

Leigh was honored for her contribution to the New York-based curator Cecilia Alemani’s Biennial exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams,” which has been celebrated for days. Her large sculpture of a black woman looking blind stands at the beginning of the Biennale’s second area, Arsenale. Lebanese Cherri was honored as a hopeful newcomer for his multimedia installation “Of Men and Gods and Mud”.

Fritsch, internationally known for her sculptures, opens the central space in the Giardini of Venice with a work. In the entrance area, the life-size Fritsch Elephant from 1987 welcomes visitors. In addition to Fritsch, Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña also received a Golden Lion for her work of life.

“Concert” in the Swiss pavilion

The Swiss national pavilion went unnoticed. This will be used for the exhibition “The Concert”. Behind her are Moroccan-born artist Latifa Echakhch, percussionist Alexandre Babel and curator Francesco Stocchi. The pavilion represents the contradiction between the national structure of the pavilions and the self-image of most contemporary artists, who have long said goodbye to nationalism.

Those in charge at Pro Helvetia in Venice are not concerned with national self-portrayal or the need to present true Swiss art, but with the promotion of culture, as the foundation constantly emphasizes.

“Concert” is a kind of time travel against the hands of the clock. The dark remnants of art greet visitors in the front yard of the pavilion. In the building, the atmosphere then changes from room to room. Sculptures inspired by folk sculpture are being swallowed up more and more by a pervasive darkness – as if time is going backwards from day to day the night before.

213 artists from 58 countries

The curator of the Biennale, Germany, has invited 213 artists from 58 countries with more than 1,500 works for “The Milk of Dreams”. The title turns into a children’s book by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917–2011), which depicts in it a magical world that is constantly reinventing itself through the imagination. In addition, 80 nations will be introduced to their country pavilions.

In addition to the document in Kassel, the art biennial is the most important exhibition for contemporary art. The 59th Biennial, postponed by one year due to the coronavirus, is open from Saturday until November 27th.

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