Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art

54th Venice Biennale
4 June - 27 November 2011

Venice Biennale / 2011 / Further exhibitions




Torre di Porta Nuova
Arsenale Nuovissimo

Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art


Mary Sibande
* 1982 Barberton, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
more info & photos

Siemon Allen
* 1970 Durban, South Africa. Lives in Washington DC, USA

Lyndi Sales
* 1973 Johannesburg, South Africa. Lives in Cape Town, South Africa

Curator: Thembinkosi Goniwe

Commissioner: Lethole Mokoena

The exhibition features South African artists whose work explores a range of realities, memories and fantasies. The artists produce imaginary truths or rather ideal narratives that reflect on South Africa, a country that is simultaneously adored and detested. South Africa is a specific cultural geography desired and envied due to both its violent inhuman history and the current democratic transformation thriving to foster human values of equality, respect and dignity.

Such contrasting attitudes toward South Africa also owe to the irreconcilable discrepancies between the country’s wealth and poverty, the beauty of nature and distasteful wellbeing-ness of poor people. These discrepant conditions dictated by politics and economic factors make democratic South Africa very curious, thus a subject of interrogation to artists, curators and scholars. Yet, there are artists who mission not to only reflect on the dark side of South Africa. These artists produce work that illuminates positive thoughts and experiences. Their affirmative work is not simply passive but rather reflective on examining the politics of humanity, quality of life, various human senses and emotions.

From a Press release

South Africa - artist's index
Artists from South Africa in Universes in Universe.



54th Venice Biennale 2011
54th International Art Exhibition, 4 June - 27 November 2011. Artistic director: Bice Curiger. Theme: ILLUMInations.


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Venice Biennale / 2011 / Further exhibitions