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112 years later, African art (and controversy) at Venice Biennale

June 22nd, 2007 Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General, Music, Politics, Travel

Olu Oguibe on cover of Modern Painters Junee 2007 Venice Biennale issueThe June issue of Modern Painters magazine features a cover story on the first African Pavilion to ever open at the 112 year old Venice Biennale. The Biennale, arguably the most prestigious contemporary arts festival in the world, has been around since 1895 with little or no African representation, until now. Curated by Fernando Alvim and Simon Njami (Africa Remix), the Check List Luanda POP show at the Africa Pavilion features 30 artists’ works from the Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art in Luanda, Angola. The exhibition which opened on June 10 was selected by a panel of experts composed of Meskerem Assegued, Ekow Eshun, Lyle Ashton Harris, Kellie Jones, Bisi Silva and chaired by Robert Storr to represent the African continent at the 52nd International Art Exhibition.

Venice Biennale Africa PavilionThe selection of the Sindika Dokolo Foundation‘s collection as a representation for Africa came with a bit of controversy surrounding the business activities of Congolese businessman and art collector Sindika Dokolo’s family and associates. Most notably a July 2006 article in the French-language newspaper La Conscience titled “The Dokolo Affair” which alleged that under the Mobutu Sese Seko regime, Sindika Dokolo’s father, Sanu, created the Bank of Kinshasa, which “channeled money to members of his own family including Sindika himself, bilking the state and normal depositors of more than $80 million dollars when it imploded in 1986″. In a reply to the Artnet Magazine’s story titled “Art and Corruption in Venice”, Dokolo stated that the goal of his art collection is to help Africans build “a strong point of view on the world that would be their own,” Despite the initial controversy, the Check List Luanda POP show has gone on to set a precedent which I hope will continue. Below is a list of the artists featured. Also listen to the “Ghostworld” a mix of music accompanying the show, produced by DJ Spooky.

Check List Luanda Pop - African Pavilion
52nd Venice Biennale International Contemporary Art Exhibition

Curators
Fernando Alvim (Angola)
Simon Njami (Cameroon)

Produced and organized by Foundation Sindika Dokolo

Listen to DJ Spooky’s “Ghostworld”

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Artists works showing

  • Ghada Amer (Egypt)
  • Oladélé Bamgboyé (Nigeria)
  • Miquel Barcelo (Spain)
  • Jean Michel Basquiat (USA)
  • Mario Benjamin (Haiti)
  • Bili Bidjocka (Cameroon)
  • Zoulikha Bouabdellah (Algeria)
  • Loulou Cherinet (Ethiopia)
  • Marlène Dumas (South Africa)
  • Mounir Fatmi (Marocco)
  • Kendell Geers (South Africa)
  • Ihosvanny (Angola)
  • Alfredo Jaar (Chile)
  • Paulo Kapela (Angola)
  • Amal Kenawy (Egypt)
  • Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola)
  • Paul D. Miller Aka DJ Spooky (USA)
  • Santu Mofokeng (South Africa)
  • Nastio Mosquito (Angola)
  • Ndilo Mutima (Angola)
  • Ingrid Mwangi (Kenya)
  • Chris Ofili (UK/Nigeria)
  • Olu Oguibe (Nigeria)
  • Tracey Rose (South Africa)
  • Ruth Sacks (South Africa)
  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE, (UK/ Nigeria)
  • Minnette Vári (South Africa)
  • Viteix (Angola)
  • Andy Warhol (USA)
  • Yonamine (Angola)

  • http://afromusing.com/blog Afromusing

    Wow, this is really cool, thanks. I wish i could attend! – will be checking their site too.

    I have a book on the Art of Africa, so so much to know, very cool to see the contemporary artists being showcased.

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