South Africa at the Venice Biennale 2022

May 19, 2022


The Biennale Arte held every two years since its founding in 1895 in Venice, Italy is a highlight on the international art calendar. Now in its 59th iteration it takes place from 23rd April until 27th November 2022. South Africa had no official representation at this major international event for many years until 2012 when the Department of Arts and Culture obtained a permanent exhibition space for a period of 20 years in the Arsenale building where the SA Pavilion is located. Every two years, South Africa participates in the visual arts exhibition, and in the alternative years the Biennale is dedicated to architectural exhibitions. 

The overall theme for this year’s Biennale Arte is “The Milk of Dreams” which reflects the richness of creative expression that is unlocked when the artist weaves fantasy and re-imagination into their work. The exhibition for the South African Pavilion was conceptualized around the sub-theme of “Into the Light” which underscores this exhibition theme, adding an element of solitude and separation as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown which influenced artists to embark on a process of self-evaluation.

Three South African artists are showcased at the Biennale Arte 2022: photographer Roger Ballen, Lebohang Kganye, and Phumulani Ntuli. 

This year’s Curator of the South African Pavilion, Ame Bell, who is Gallery Director at David Krut Projects, added “Just as our featured artists have undertaken their own journeys of discovery in search of artistic truth and reimagined their self-identity, we want to encourage visitors to our exhibition to embark on their own similar journeys”.