simone leigh represents the united states at the venice art biennale

simone leigh represents the united states at the venice art biennale

simone leigh: first black female artist of the american pavilion

 

With the opening of the Venice Art Biennale 2022, visitors are invited to explore the works of artist Simone Leigh at the United States of America Pavilion. The artist has taken one of the most prestigious commissions of the art world, and celebrates black women at the forefront — the curators note that she ‘parses the construction of Black femme subjectivity.’

 

While the artist’s large body of work ranges from sculpture, video, and performance, the pavilion primarily highlights Leigh’s large-scale sculptural works. Here, vernacular architecture meets the female body to create a dialogue of materials and processes associated with the artistic traditions of Africa.

venice biennale simone leigh
Simone Leigh’s American Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Art Biennale
image © designboom

 

 

jeffersonian building turned african palace

 

As part of her US pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale (see more here), Simone Leigh gives the Jeffersonian architecture a total makeover. What was once a neo-Palladian building now takes on an African expression. Thatched roofs wrap the strict, orderly facade while classical columns are fronted by timber poles. The intervention embodies an ‘African Palace,’ a concept which reminds viewers of the 1931 Colonia Exposition in Paris which invited nations to exhibit their ‘conquered’ territories, with replications of the local architecture, often with ‘natives’ on display.

venice biennale simone leigh‘Satelitte’ (2022), references the D’mba, a bust of a woman used by the Baga people of West Africa

 

 

ceramics at the venice art biennale

 

Simone Leigh, who lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, occupies the pavilion at Venice Art Biennale with sculpture drawn from Black and African art and objects. With this series of new bronzes and ceramics, Leigh intervenes imaginatively to fill gaps in the historical record by proposing new hybridities.

 

The show was commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (see more here), which is currently curating a survey of the artist’s work, allowing those who won’t make it to Venice a chance to see another version of this pavilion in March 2023 (see more here).

venice biennale simone leigh
‘Cupboard’ (2022), raffia, steel and glazed stoneware
image © designboom

 

venice biennale simone leigh
‘Martinique’ (2022) references a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife; the statue was decapitated in 1991
image © designboomvenice biennale simone leigh
‘Jug’ (2022), references a South Carolina face jug, hybridized with large cowrie shell shapes
image © designboom

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‘Sphinx’ (2022), stoneware (front), ‘Cupboard’ (2022), raffia, steel and glazed stoneware (rear) | image © designboom

simone leigh represents the united states at the venice art biennale‘Anonymous,’ image © designboom

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'Sentinel' (2022), a 16-foot-tall bronze
'Sentinel' (2022), a 16-foot-tall bronze
'Last Garment' references a vintage postcard of a washerwoman in Jamaica
'Last Garment' references a vintage postcard of a washerwoman in Jamaica

project info:

 

artist: Simone Leigh

location: United States of America Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2022

commissioner: the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston

curator: Eva Respini

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