Zimbabwe Ready to Make a Splash at the 2017 Venice Biennale

Its pavilion will put the spotlight back on the artist.

Venice Grand Canal. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Zimbabwe, a three-time participant at the Venice Biennale, will again return to the City of Water for its fourth outing at “Viva Art Viva,” the 57th edition of the world-renowned exhibition to be curated by Christine Macel.

Though the pavilion’s artists have yet to be announced, Raphael Chikukwa, chief curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, praised this biennale’s curatorial decision to place the spotlight back on creators.

“As I always say, it is important to acknowledge the artists themselves, because there is no exhibition without an artist. Without artists, museums and galleries would be shut down,” he said in a statement.

“Viva Art Viva” has been billed by Biennial officials as an exhibition “designed with the artists, by the artists and for the artists.” Thus, Zimbabwe’s curatorial concept fits in with this, and will allow otherwise-unknown artists to come to the forefront.

“I have seen huge changes ever since our debut at the Venice Biennale because most of these artists had never been represented by international galleries,” Chikukwa continued. “But today most of the previous participants of the Zimbabwe Pavilion are contracted to international galleries.”

Earlier presentations at the Zimbabwe Pavilion include 2015’s “Pixels of Ubuntu/Unhu – Exploring the Social and Cultural Identities of 21st Century,” which featured Chikonzero Chazunguza, Masimba Hwati, and Gareth Nyandoro, and 2013’s “Dudziro: Interrogating the Vision of Religious Beliefs,” a five-person show focusing on the Zimbabwean spirit as seen through a socio-religious lens.

According to The Herald, Zimbabwe’s continued presence at the biennale has helped to “demystify” the political and economic perception of  Zimbabwe, inspiring Chikukwa to encourage the inclusion of more African countries.

“It is very important and platforms like Venice are platforms where nations gain visibility,” said Chikukwa. “I look forward to our African artists shining again at this international platform.”


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