The Venice Biennial, which officially opened on April 23, is one of Europe’s most glamorous international forums for contemporary art. This year’s exhibition titled The Milk of Dreams, is curated by Italian Cecilia Alemani. Out of the 58 countries represented, only nine African countries will represent the continent this year. The Republics of Cameroon, Namibia, and Uganda will be participating for the first time, while Cameroon sets the record as the first-ever pavilion to host an NFT art exhibition.

Since 1907, when governments began curating pieces that would represent them by building national pavilions, Nigeria has had a pavilion just once. The 57th Venice Benennial in 2017 marked Nigeria’s Pavilion debut and was the first and only year Nigeria had a pavilion to represent the country. The exhibition was titled How About Now and curated by Adenrele Sonariwo and Emmanuel IdumaI. It featured the works of Peju Alatise, Victor Ehikhamenor and Qudus Onikeku.

While fundraising difficulties, as well as a lack of interest from many African governments towards contemporary art play a critical role in national participation, these nine African countries present this year have curated the most interactive, intentional, mindboggling pieces for their pavilions.

Cameroon

Exhibition Name: The Time of the Chimeras

Commissioner: Armand Abanda Maye
Curators: Paul Emmanuel Loga Mahop, Sandro Orlandi Stagl
Exhibitors: Francis Nathan Abiamba (Afran), Angéle Etoundi Essamba, Justine Gaga, Salifou Lindou, Shay Frisch, Umberto Mariani, Matteo Mezzadri, Jorge R. Pombo, NFT (Kevin Abosch, João Angelini, Marco Bertìn (Berxit), Cryptoart Driver, Lana Denina, Alberto Echegaray Guevara, Genesis People, Joachim Hildebrand, Meng Huang, Eduardo Kac, Giulia Kosice, Julio Le Parc, Marina Nuñez, Miguel Soler-Roig, Miguel Ángel Vidal, Burkhard von Harder, Gabe Weis, Clark Winter, Shavonne Wong, Wang Xing, Alessandro Zannier, ZZH)
Venue: Liceo Artistico Guggenheim, Dorsoduro 2613 e Palazzo Ca’ Bernardo Molon, San Polo 2186

Uganda

Exhibition Name – Radiance: They dream In Time

Commissioner: Naumo Juliana Akoryo
Curator: Shaheen Merali
Exhibitors: Acaye Kerunen, Collin Sekajugo
Venue: Palazzo Palumbo Fossati, San Marco 2597

Ghana

Exhibition Name: Black Star – The Museum as Freedom

Commissioner: Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority Ministry of Tourism, Arts And Culture
Curator: Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Exhibitors: Na Chainkua Reindorf, Diego Araúja, Afroscope

Kenya

Exhibition Name: Exercises in Conversation

Commissioner: Kiprop Lagat
Curator: Jimmy Ogonga
Exhibitors: Dickens Otieno, Syowia Kyambi, Kaloki Nyamai, Wanja Kimani
Venue: Fàbrica 33, Cannaregio 5063

Ivory Coast

Exhibition Name: The dreams of a story

Commissioner: Henri Koffissé N’koumo
Curators: Massimo Scaringella, Alessandro Romanini
Exhibitors: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Abdoulaye Diarrassouba dit Aboudia, Armand Boua, Saint-Etienne Yéanzi dit Yeanzi, Laetitia Ky, Aron Demetz
Venue: Magazzino del Sale 3, Dorsoduro 264

Namibia

Exhibition Name: A Bridge to the Desert

Commissioner: Marcellinus Swartbooi, Senior Art Education Officer of the Directorate of Arts: Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture
Curator: Marco Furio Ferrario
Exhibitor: “RENN”
Venue: Isola della Certosa

South Africa

Exhibition Name: Into the Light

Commissioner: Nosipho Nausca-Jean Ngcaba, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in Italy
Curator: Amé Bell
Exhibitors: Roger Ballen, Lebohang Kganye, Phumulani Ntuli

Zimbabwe

Exhibition Name: I did not leave a sign?

Commissioner: Raphael Chikukwa, National Gallery of Zimbabwe
Curator: Fadzai Veronica Muchemwa
Exhibitors: Wallen Mapondera, Ronald Muchatuta, Kresiah Mukwazhi, Terrence Musekiwa
Venue: Santa Maria della Pietà, Calle della Pietà

Egypt

Exhibition Name: Eden-Like Garden

Commissioner: Egyptian Ministry of Culture-Accademia d’Egitto
Curator: Mohamed Shoukry
Exhibitors: Mohamed Shoukry, Weaam El Masry, Ahmed El Shaer

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