“we are here!” Venice honors black artists

Great Britain won the Golden Lion for Best Country Suite by Sonia Boyce. Photo: Felix Hörhager / dpa

With the award of two internationally acclaimed artists from the black community, the jury at the Venice Biennale of the Arts have set an example. Britain’s Sonia Boyce and American Simone Lee received today, Saturday, the most important prizes of the Biennale in the Lagoon City, with a pair of two golden lions.

There were also awards for the Ugandan rural pavilion and the Lebanese artist Ali Shri. Düsseldorf artist Katharina Fritsch was also awarded the Golden Lion for work in her lifetime.

Boyce received the award for her work at the British Pavilion. It also considers the award a sign of the international black art scene. “We’re here. We’re not going away anymore,” Boyce told dpa in Venice of the significance of the award. “More great things are about to happen.” There is a huge amount of talent among black artists. “I can’t wait for others to confirm themselves.” .

Boyce, who is also a professor of black art and design, has been an important figure in the struggle for recognition of women artists and the fight against racism for decades. With her work “Feeling Her Way” at the British Pavilion, she shows the power of female singing. The voices of five black singers fill the suite’s rooms individually and collectively on large screens. The tones, which sound as strong as they are weak, are surrounded by golden elements with a geometric structure on the walls.

In the evaluations of the country pavilions, Uganda, first represented in the Biennale, received special mention for the works of Akai Kirunen and Colin Sekagogo. Both considered the award as an important reference for the art scene in African countries, which is still often underestimated.

The French pavilion, in front of which long queues of interested people have been forming on the floor of the Biennale for days, also received a special mention. In the halls, curated by two Berlin-based Hamburger Bahnhof directors, Sam Bardawil and Til Fellrath, French-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira uses scenes reconstructed in a mixture of documents and literature to analyze questions of political and feminist upheavals.

Twice represented, American Leigh has also designed the National Pavilion of the USA, confidently addressing the role and awakening of the black community through her large-scale sculptures. Lee was honored for her contribution to Cecilia Alemani’s “Milk of Dreams” biennial exhibition in New York, which has been celebrated for days. Her colossal statue of a blind-looking black woman stands at the start of the second Biennale District, Arsenal. Shri the Lebanese was honored as an optimistic newcomer with his multimedia composition “Men, Gods and Clay”.

The golden lion of lifelong work for Frit

Fritsch, world-renowned for its sculptures, opens the central space in the Giardini of Venice with work. In the entrance area, a life-size Fritsch from 1987 welcomes visitors, whose mix of green and realistic shapes seems to set the stage for the gallery’s surreal journey. In addition to Fritsch, Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña has also received the Golden Lion for her work in her lifetime.

The German winger went unnoticed. There, Berlin-based artist Maria Eichhorn revealed the structure of the modified Nazi building and thus its history.

The Yemeni curator invited 213 artists from 58 countries with more than 1,500 works in “Milk of Dreams”. The title belongs to a children’s book by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), in which she describes a magical world that is constantly reinventing itself through imagination. In addition, 80 countries will offer their own pavilions.

Along with the Documenta Gallery in Kassel, the Art Biennale is the most important exhibition of contemporary art. Biennale 59, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus, is open from Saturday to November 27.

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