The Sunday Mail
PHAIDON Contemporary Artist Series Editor, Michele Robecchi, once said: “For many countries, having a national pavilion is a unique opportunity to have a voice within the international community. The contemporary art scene in Zimbabwe, as well as in other regions that are not regularly featured on the global art map, is rich, lively and complex. Venice is a great occasion to introduce it to a broader audience.”
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, with support from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation will once again exhibit the beauty of the country’s artistry at the Venice Biennale this year.
This will be the 58th edition of what has been dubbed the Olympics of the art world and it shall mark the fifth staging of the critically acclaimed Zimbabwe Pavilion in the prestigious Italian city.
The theme for the country’s pavilion this year is “Soko Risina Musoro”, a title borrowed from the late Herbert Chitepo’s epic poem. It will be a reflection of the Venice Biennale’s overarching theme, “May You Live in Interesting Times”, focusing on the role of art in response to the current global political climate especially in the context of fake news and alternative facts in this overstimulated information age.
The exhibition, which will run up to the end of November has been commissioned by Doreen Sibanda, the executive director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and will be curated by Raphael Chikukwa assisted by Valerie Sithole.
The artists taking part at this year’s extravaganza will be unveiled tomorrow at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in the capital. The artists will interpret two themes in a bid to fully narrate the contradiction of the African way of life and the wealth in human and natural resources juxtaposed to the visions of the founding fathers of every country on the continent. They will also be negotiating the obscurities that rise between ideal practices in the long run.
“Soko Risina Musoro” will focus on illuminating the visionary insights of previous generations and the abandonment of those values by the contemporary generations, albeit leading to the reassurance of identity, culture and above all, history.
Last year the country was represented by the legendary Sylvester Mubayi, Charles Bhebhe, Dana Whabira and Admire Kamudzengerere, whose artworks put forth some questions relating to boundaries and belonging. The exhibition, titled “Deconstructing Boundaries: Exploring Ideas of Belonging”, was looking at how physical boundaries are getting blurred and challenged in the face of cultural conflicts, migration, nationalism and urbanisation among other things.
The Zimbabwean Pavilion at this particular extravaganza is an important intervention in many ways as it promotes local artists and contemporary art in the country. Founded in 1895, the Venice Biennale is now one of the most famous and prestigious cultural organisations in the world with an attendance of over 500 000 visitors at the art exhibition. The organisation stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends.