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21 African Artists To See At Venice Biennale 2015

The 2015 Venice Biennale, curated by the Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor, will feature work by 21 African artists.

All images courtesy of Venice Biennale


The Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) returns for the 56th time this May. Founded in 1895 as an International Art Exhibition, the Biennale ultimately expanded into the realms of music, cinema, theatre, architecture and, most recently, dance. In 2013 Okwui Enwezor, the Nigerian-born curator, art critic, editor, writer and Director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, was appointed to curate the 2015 edition of the exhibition– making him the Venice Biennale's first African director. In his curator's introduction, Enwezor says this year's theme, All The World's Futures, is "devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things."

On the roster of 136 artists and collectives are participants from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, the DRC, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Senegal, and Cameroon, including the Johannesburg-born Kay Hassan and his towering paper constructions of Joburg's "Everyday People," fantastical Kenyan afrofuturist Wangechi Mutu, Lagos soundscape artist Emeka Ogboh, and the transcontinental road trip project Invisible Borders: Trans-African PhotographersAdel Abdessemed (Algeria), John Akomfrah (Ghana), Karo Akpokiere (Nigeria), Sammy Baloji (DRC), Nidhal Chamekh (Tunisia), Marlene Dumas (South Africa), Inji Efflatoun (Egypt), Samson Kambalu (Malawi), Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique), Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Abu Bakarr Mansaray (Sierra Leone), Cheikh Ndiaye (Senegal), Joachim Schönfeldt (South Africa), Massinissa Selmani (Algeria), Fatou Kandé Senghor (Senegal), Mikhael Subotzky (South Africa), and Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon).

The 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition, All the World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor, will run from Saturday, May 9th, through Sunday, November 22nd, at the Giardini and the Arsenale venues. Read more from Enwezor on this year's theme below.

"Rather than one overarching theme that gathers and encapsulates diverse forms and practices into one unified field of vision, All the World’s Futures is informed by a layer of intersecting Filters. These Filters are a constellation of parameters that circumscribe multiple ideas, which will be touched upon to both imagine and realize a diversity of practices. In 2015, the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia will employ the historical trajectory of the Biennale itself, over the course of its one hundred and twenty years existence, as a Filter through which to reflect on both the current 'state of things' and the 'appearance of things'. All the World’s Futures will take the present 'state of things' as the ground for its dense, restless, and exploratory project that will be located in a dialectical field of references and artistic disciplines. The principal question the exhibition will pose is this: How can artists, thinkers, writers, composers, choreographers, singers, and musicians, through images, objects, words, movement, actions, lyrics, sound bring together publics in acts of looking, listening, responding, engaging, speaking in order to make sense of the current upheaval? What material, symbolic or aesthetic, political or social acts will be produced in this dialectical field of references to give shape to an exhibition which refuses confinement within the boundaries of conventional display models? In All the World’s Futures the curator himself, along with artists, activists, the public, and contributors of all kinds will appear as the central protagonists in the open orchestration of the project."
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Photo credit should read KELVIN IKPEA/AFP via Getty Images

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