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The prestiges award goes to Boyce for the Great Britain National Pavilion and to Leigh for her participation in the main show. Uganda and France receive special mention for their National Pavilions

The Jury of the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, comprising Adrienne Edwards (USA), President of the Jury, Lorenzo Giusti (Italy), Julieta González (Mexico), Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Cameroon), Susanne Pfeffer (Germany), has announced the following winners:

Sonia Boyce in front of the Great Britain Pavilion. Photographer: Cristiano Corte. © British Council

The Golden Lion for Best National Pavilion goes to the British Pavilion for Sonia Boyce’s ‘Feeling Her Way’, curated by Emma Ridgway. Sonia Boyce is the first Black woman to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. The pavilion celebrates Boyce as a key figure in the burgeoning Black-British art scene of the early 1980s. At the heart of Boyce’s work is an empowering exploration of gestures and events, with an underlying focus on the personal and political subjectivities behind them. The jury explains: “Sonia Boyce proposes, consequently, another reading of histories through the sonic. In working collaboratively with other black women, she unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories. Boyce proposes a very contemporary language in relation to fragmented forms that the viewer in experiencing the pavilion can piece together. Important questions of rehearsal as opposed to the perfect attuned, as well as relations between voices in a form of choir, in a distance, and at varying points in the show are posed.”

Simone Leigh’s Brick House greets visitors in the opening gallery. Photographer: Brendon Bell-Roberts
Simone Leigh’s Brick House greets visitors in the opening gallery. © Brendon Bell-Roberts

The Golden Lion for the Best Participant in the International Exhibition ‘The Milk of Dreams’ goes to Simone Leigh (1967, Chicago, USA. Lives in New York City, USA). “For the rigorously researched, virtuosically realised, and powerfully persuasive monumental sculptural opening to the Arsenale, which alongside Belkis Ayón, provided a compelling entrée to the ideas, sensibilities and approaches…”.

Two special mentions for the national pavilions go to France with the exhibition ‘Les rêves n’ont pas de titre / Dreams’ have no titles by Zineb Sedira and curated by Yasmina Reggad, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath; and to Uganda for their first participation at the Venice Biennale and their exhibition title ‘RADIANCE: They dream In Time’ with works by Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo curated by Shaheen Merali.

The Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition ‘The Milk of Dreams’ goes to Ali Cherri (1976, Beirut, Lebanon. Lives in Paris, France). The Jury has decided to award two special mentions to Lynn Hershman Leeson (1941, Cleveland, USA. Lives in San Francisco, USA) and Shuvinai Ashoona (1961, Kinngait. Lives in Kinngait, Nunavut).

The 59th Venice Biennale opened to the public on the 23rd of April and will be on view until the 27th of November 2022. For more information, please visit the 59th Venice Biennale.

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