At the award of two internationally renowned artists from the Black Community, the jury of the Venice Art Biennale set an example. Britain’s Sonia Boyce and American Simone Leigh received the most important Biennale awards on Saturday in the lagoon city with the two Golden Lions.
There were also awards for the Ugandan country 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. “More fabulous things will happen.” There is a huge amount of talent among black artists. “I can’t wait for others to assert themselves.”
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”. The voices of five colored singers fill the pavilion rooms individually and combined on large screens. The tones, which look as powerful as they are unprotected, are surrounded by geometrically structured golden elements on the walls.
In the awards for the country pavilions, Uganda, represented for the first time at the Biennale, received a special commendation with the works of Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo. Both regarded the award as an important reference for the art scene in African countries, which is still often often underestimated.
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”.
The golden lion for the work of life for Fritsch
Fritsch, internationally known for her sculptures, opens the central space in the Giardini of Venice with a work. In the entrance area, Fritsch’s 1987 “Elephant” welcomes visitors, the combination of green color and realistic shapes seems to pave the way for the exhibition’s surreal journey. In addition to Fritsch, Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña also received a Golden Lion for her work of life.
The German pavilion passed unnoticed. There, Berlin-based artist Maria Eichhorn discovered the structure of the building modified by the Nazis and thus its history.
The German curator has invited 213 artists from 58 countries with more than 1500 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. (dpa)