Kenya Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale: Another Country

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and the Arts of the Republic of Kenya proudly announces its participation at the 57th Venice Biennale with the exhibition Another Country comprising of works by five contemporary artists.

Another Country is a title taken from James Baldwin's 1961 novel narrating a crucial year in the lives of its 8 major characters. The story is an intensely long and passionate narrative - born out of intensity and compassion – urging attention, bringing to the fore timeless questions that demand explanations from a society that seems to insist that thereis no hope. In this other country, social barriers within a raptured society are slashed away; the complexities of love and antipathy are mercilessly explored. The power of antagonisms is communicated with terrifying force, and what remains are the truths and the realities of human experience stretched to its limits.

Richard Kimathi, Bubbles, 2016, Mixed Media on Canvas, 158 x 142 cm (Image Courtesy of the Artist & One-Off gallery, Nairobi)

Richard Kimathi, Bubbles, 2016, Mixed Media on Canvas, 158 x 142 cm
(Image Courtesy of the Artist & One-Off gallery, Nairobi)

The Kenya Pavilion partners with Zuecca Projects, a local cultural organisation in merging cultural boundaries through exchange and educational practice. The aleatoric choice of the exhibition venue is Scuola Palladio, a Kinder Garden and Middle School in the island of Giudecca, which is slowly shrinking in attendance due to the city's accelerated de-Population. Kindergarden and middle school provide the fundamental building blocks upon which societies are created.

The Giudecca area, where the school is located, is the remaining stronghold for local Venetians. It is associated with popular housing, and remains unaffected by the mass tourism, which is affecting the social fabric of the city. The artistic practice that will emerge between the interactions of the students, the community around them and the participating artists will result in a shared learning experience that will be presented later in the fall.

The initial period of the exhibition is that of exchange and mediation, through which ideas for new site specific work will be developed and delivered by the closing of the Biennale in November. In the following months, the occurrence of the Biennale provides an opportunity for the five Kenyan artists to engage with the multiple faces of Venice, while engaging in an educational and public program with the students of the Scuola and residents of Giudecca.

The Biennale period will offer the opportunity for host and guest to talk, learn, exchange and together reflect on their complex realities while developing site-specific projects that highlight and consider strategies of education, restoration and rejuvenation through art.

This initiative is possibly/hopefully the beginning, and based on deep multidisciplinary approaches to collaboration and cross-cultural dialogue between artists, students and the community.

Catalogue: At the end of the program, in November 2017, a publication of the representation of Kenya at the 57th Venice Biennale, "Another Country", will be released.

The Kenya participation at the 57th Venice Biennale is realized on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and the Arts of the Republic of Kenya.

Officially Supported by Zuecca Projects and Hausbrandt.

The project is also realized with further support from: The Lamu Factory Project, One-Off Gallery - Nairobi, Ambiente, Mr. Simon Njami and Mr. Johannes Lehmann.