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Did African curators miss the gondola at Venice?

B

lack female artists triumphed at the 59th Venice Biennale. This should have bode well for Africa’s artists, and expression, yet none of Africa’s pavilions were dedicated to a female artist.

The 59th Venice Biennale will be remembered as the culmination of widespread institutional acknowledgement of female artists, and especially black female artists. Largely, this manifested through the main exhibition curated by Cecilia Alemani, titled The Milk of Dreams, which is inspired by the British female surrealist, Leonora Carrington. In this vein, overlooked female artists from the past or periphery are featured heavily - it has been observed that almost half of the 213 artists in the exhibition are no longer living. The female-centric vibe was reiterated through the Golden Lion Awards, announced over the weekend with; Great Britain winning best national participation with a solo presentation of works by Sonia Boyce, a special mention for France’s pavilion which was dedicated to the work of Zineb Sedira, a French Algerian, Simone Leigh named the best participant and special mentions for two other female artists, Lynn Hershman Leeson from the US and Shuvinai Ashoona from Nunavut. The Golden Lion Lifetime achievement awards went to two female artists Katherina Frisch, who represented Germany and Cecilia Vicuña the Chilean artist.


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