East Africa goes to the Venice Biennale 2022

Thursday May 26 2022
Venice Biennale 2022.

Venice Biennale 2022, "The Milk of Dreams". PHOTO | COURTESY


La Biennale d'Arte di Venezia, or the Venice Biennale, has returned after three years. The Biennale runs from April 23 until November 27. Titled The Milk of Dreams, nine out of the 80 participating countries are from Africa.

This is the first year that Uganda is participating, represented by multimedia artist Collin Sekajugo and visual-performing artist Pamela Acaye. Sekajugo is showcasing figurative paintings that reflect on contemporary urban life. Acaye’s artwork, made from bark cloth and woven fibres, highlights the use of sustainable materials.

The Ugandan pavilion, curated by Tanzanian-born Shaheen Merali, is titled Radiance: They Dream in Time. It received special mention at the opening awards ceremony. Cameroon and Namibia are also taking part for the first time.

At the Kenyan stand, under the banner Exercises in Conversation, are Dickens Otieno, Kaloki Nyamai and Wanja Kimani. Otieno creates striking tapestries and attire made of woven aluminium from discarded soda cans, in a search for meaning in worthless things.

Kaloki Nyamai explores the ethnic history of his Kamba community. Kimani is showcasing watercolour paintings on picture frames and a film on the "weathering down of the human body". Syowia Kyambi’s work often examines social issues around history and identity

In a show of government support, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Heritage and Culture Amina Mohamed attended the Biennale opening last month. Kenya missed the 2019 Biennale, and almost did not make it in 2017, because of failed government funding. In previous years, the pavilion was represented by creatives from other countries.