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The two-day event, free and open to the public, will shed light on initiatives that are nourishing African and Afro-descendant contemporary art beyond historical limitations and the hurdles imposed by the pandemic.

The African Art in Venice Forum (AAVF) is a public and free discursive event presented every other year in Venice, Italy, during the opening week of the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte di Venezia. The project provides a new platform to present and discuss topics related to contemporary art from Africa and its diasporas in the cultural, professional, and infrastructural context of the Venice Biennale.

As art professionals from around the world gather to attend the Venice Biennale, many countries are made invisible by the lack of national pavilions and projects transversally representing regional, cultural, or historical components stemming from the African continent.

AAVF was born in 2017 with the aim of bringing together in Venice a multiplicity of voices of the contemporary African art ecosystem, presenting their creative message, and opening a broader cultural dialogue during the Biennale’s opening week.


9:30 am

Opening remarks, towards intra-African Cooperation in the cultural sector


Skinder Hundal, Director, British Art Council

Neri Torcello, Founder, African Art in Venice Forum and President, African Art Dialogues

Azza Satti, co-founder, African Art Dialogues

10:00 am

From Restitution to Contemporary Creation⁣

The current debate on restitution is often focused on the transfer of objects and the infrastructure of repatriation. This panel brings together administrators, curators and artists to explore the creative and generative potential of object restitution and the impact of history on contemporary art. ⁣


Georges Adeagbo, artist

Alicia Knock, Curator for Contemporary Art and Research, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Yassine Lassissi, Artistic and Commercial Director, Galerie Nationale du Benin

Coline Toumson-Venite, Head of the Mission of Culture and Arts of Benin’s Republic President

Moderated by Silvia Forni, Senior Curator of Global Africa, Royal Ontario Museum

Presented in collaboration with Kulturforum Sud-Nord

12:00 pm

African NFTs: Artists Joining a Growing Market

The NFT space is evolving rapidly and reshuffling the way the traditional art market is operating. This panel will discuss the dynamics of digital art in the contemporary African art market, collecting trends, and notion of community and geography.

Presented in collaboration with 1:54 Art Fair

2:00 pm

Right to Gaze: Meditations on the Imaginary Self

What is the ‘telling practice’ of a photograph? What is the liaison between the colonial history of photography as a vehicle towards the reclamation of a sense of individual or collective selfhood? The discussion will interrogate the role of the body and ancestral memories in re-creating individual and collective memories in the Diaspora whilst focusing on the dichotomy between reality and fiction through the practice of emerging contemporary artists.


Adaeze Ihebom, photographer and researcher

Eleonora Sabet, portraitist and documentary author

Alia Romagnoli, photographer and visual artist

In conversation with Mistura Allison and Himasha S. Weerappulige, co-founders and curators, ashiko

Presented in collaboration with ashiko⁣

4:00 pm

Focus Ethiopia

A conversation with contemporary Ethiopian artists on new practices, opportunities, and challenges of contemporary art in their home country. Every year African Art DIalogues brings a Focus on one African Country at the African Art in Venice Forum


Merikokeb Berhanu, artist

Tadesse Mesfin, artist

Tariku Shiferaw, artist

Tesfaye Urgessa, artist

In conversation with Raphael Chikukwa, Executive Director, National Gallery of Zimbabwe


10:00 am

Let’s Get Closer: Building Art Alliances Across Africa

The conversation will shed light on the broad spectrum of artist-led initiatives that are generating a new network of support for contemporary creation and cross-national exchange across the African continent and beyond.


Roger Ballen, artist and Founder, Inside Out Centre for the Arts, South Africa

Ibrahim Mahama, artist and Founder, Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art – SCCA, Ghana

Moataz Nasreldin, artist and Founder, Darb 1718, Egyptian Contemporary Art & Culture Center, Egypt

Karen Monica Reini, curator, Lusaka Contemporary Art Center – LuCAC, Zambia

Belinda Holden, Director at Yinka Shonibare Foundation

In conversation with Heba Elkayal, independent curator and researcher focusing on modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art

Presented in collaboration with Something We Africans Got

12:00 pm

Synthesising Synergy: Building Afro-centric solutions through intra-continental collaborations

The panel brings together Africa-based practitioners working at the institutional, educational, market, gallery, and artist levels and actively engaged in developing projects on the continent and looking to support other Africa-based stakeholders through open, creative, and synergistic partnerships, skill, and resource sharing.

With: ⁣

Maria Amelina, Director, East African Museum of Art Nairobi

Valerie Kabov, African Art Galleries Association

Robel Temesgen, artist, educator, activist

Moderated by Olivia Anani, Co-Director, of Africa + Modern and Contemporary Art at PIASA

Presented in collaboration with African Art Galleries Association – AAGA

2:00 pm

A Gen[d]erative Inquiry: Women Leading in the African Creative Sector

Four artists opening a dialogue on how women’s leadership is influencing the social field of African contemporary art. An intentional space to free, explore and co-hold the questions, relational dynamics and human paradoxes shaping individual and collective experiences around this subject.

With: ⁣⁣

Ayana Jackson, artist

Lebohang Kganye, artist, South African Pavilion

Laetitia Ky, artist, Ivory Coast Pavilion

Raquel Van Haver, artist

In conversation with Georgiana Ward-Booth, facilitator of awareness-based systems-change processes and co-founder at African Art Dialogues, and Janine Sytsma, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora, University of Arkansas, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Fellow

Presented in collaboration with Investec Cape Town Art Fair

3:15 pm

Screening of Muna Mussie’s Oblio

Oblio is video work drawn from a temporary “monument” and performance by Bologna-based artist, Muna Mussie in collaboration with the Associazione Donne Africa subsahariana e II Generazione. The work, designed for a public park in Torino, engages notions of fleeting refuge as well as active and passive dimensions of the removal of history. The screening is followed by a conversation between the artist and part of the work’s curatorial team.

3:45 pm

Black Italian Currency

This panel with three Black cultural practitioners is intended as an introduction to the cultural context of Italy and the nature of producing events, exhibitions, and content that challenges the shallowness of preconceived perceptions of artists and scholars of African descent based in the country.


Johanne Affricot, Founder, Griot Magazine

Adama Sanneh, Director, Moleskine Foundation

Justin Randolph Thompson, Founder, The Recovery Plan


Fragments of Interlaced Dialogues

The talk revolves around recent research by artist Sammy Baloji in relation to objects of the collection of the Uffizi Galleries engaging in a critical discussion about the construction of African art in the Italian context with a nod to the 1922 Venice Biennial which for the first time hosted and African art exhibit.


Sammy Baloji, artist

Lucrezia Cippitelli, curator and researcher

Eike Schmidt, Director, Uffizi Galleries

Moderated by Justin Randolph Thompson, Founder, The Recovery Plan

Presented in collaboration with The Recovery Plan

For more information, please visit African Art in Venice Forum.

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