For the first time, both equally of the Venice Biennale’s leading honors went to Black women of all ages.
All those awards, acknowledged as the Golden Lions, went this calendar year to Simone Leigh and Sonia Boyce, who won for participation in Cecilia Alemani’s most important show and for a countrywide pavilion, respectively.
The Silver Lion, for a “promising youthful artist” in the main exhibit, went to Ali Cherri. Exclusive mentions for Alemani’s exhibition have been also awarded to Shuvinai Ashoona and Lynn Hershman Leeson.
Boyce received for her British Pavilion, which was curated by Emma Ridgway. Zineb Sedira’s French Pavilion and the Uganda Pavilion, which showcased operate by Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo, gained unique mentions.
Leigh, who also represented the United States this 12 months at the Venice Biennale, was recognized for Brick House (2019), a 16-foot-tall sculpture that had previously appeared on New York’s Large Line park, where by Alemani serves as main curator. The do the job depicts an eyeless Black feminine figure whose sort appears to incorporate with an architectural composition. Drawing on the designs of Batammaliba architecture and Mousgoum dwellings, the get the job done also alludes to Mammy’s Cabinet, an eatery in Natchez, Mississippi, whose developing resembles a mammy figure.
Brick Residence received notable placement at the Biennale, where by it was surrounded by operates by Belkis Ayón. It was the 1st piece viewers observed the moment they entered the Arsenale section of the key clearly show, titled “The Milk of Dreams,” which was targeted loosely on a reemergence of Surrealist tendencies.
In a statement read through by Adrienne Edwards, a Whitney Museum curator who led the group that selected the winners, the jury said it had provided Leigh the Golden Lion for her “rigorously researched, virtuosically realized, and powerfully persuasive monumental sculptural.”
Leigh made use of her speech to pay homage to people whom she referred to as her “interlocutors,” amid them Rashida Bumbray, who will direct an function as component of Leigh’s Biennale pavilion later on this yr, and artist Lorraine O’Grady.
Boyce’s British Pavilion equally centered Black ladies, focusing specifically on ones in Britain whose broad contributions to the country’s musical record have gone below-identified by the mainstream. Through video clips, sculptures, and shows of archival product, Boyce, who 1st emerged all through the Black British Arts motion of the 1980s, surveyed the do the job of five Black woman singers spanning various generations and musical designs.
“Sonia Boyce proposes, therefore, yet another looking through of histories via the sonic,” the jury explained in its statement.
As a result of tears, Boyce thanked a amount of figures, which include the late curator Okwui Enwezor, who brought her operate to the most important display of the 2015 Venice Biennale. She used her speech to counsel that there are lots of much more figures in her lineage who have nevertheless to arise.
“We mustn’t ignore that there is an even for a longer time arc, which we see in Zineb,” she claimed. “We mustn’t ignore that there is a lengthier arc which is a lot more than the men and women than we see below.”
Cherri received for Of Adult men and Gods and Mud (2022), a movie installation that attracts a line in between the previous and the present by way of the Merowe Dam in Sudan. The function envisions the dam as a little something akin to a creature itself, a person that has similarities to beasts witnessed in art of hundreds of years previous. The jury praised the do the job for “opening up from other narratives that depart from the logic of progress and cause.”
Forward of the opening of the biennale, the prestigious Golden Lions for Life time Achievement Awards ended up offered to Cecilia Vicuña and Katharina Fritsch, both of whom are highlighted in the principal display.
The German-born Fritsch was lauded for her uncanny, often more than-sized reproductions of objects, animals, and people today. Vicuña, a Chilean visible artist and a poet, was honored for her extensive-ranging exercise “built close to a deep fascination with Indigenous traditions and non-Western epistemologies,” according to Alemani in a statement. The Golden Lion for Life time Achievement is ordinarily supplied to just one mid or late-vocation artist this yr marked the initially time since 2013 that two artists shared the prize.
In addition to Edwards, this year’s jury also is made up of Lorenzo Giusti, the director of GAMeC Bergamo in Italy Julieta González, creative director of Instituto Inhotim in Brazil Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, the founder of Savvy Up to date in Berlin, creative director of Sonsbeek 20–24 in the Netherlands, and the incoming director of Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin and Susanne Pfeffer, director of Museum MMK für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt.