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Installation view of “Tracey Rose: Wild Bull” (2015–16) at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires.

Artists Representing South Africa at 2019 Venice Biennale Announced

The South African Department of Arts and Culture has revealed that Dineo Seshee Bopape, Tracey Rose, and Mawande Ka Zenzile were selected to represent the country at the Fifty-Eighth Venice Biennale, taking place from May 11 to November 24, 2019. Nkule Mabaso and Nomusa Makhubu will curate the pavilion.

The artists will present works that explore notions of social, political, and economic resilience under the title “The Stronger We Become.” “The proposed theme engages with the determination and tenacious spirit of South Africans,” said Mabaso and Makhubu. Both curators are currently based at the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town.

They added: “We need to be able to celebrate our many achievements, while we also confront our shortcomings. While South Africa remains a fragmented society with a fragile political landscape, there is still agency reflected in these artists’ works that buoys social resistance.”

Known for her installations that transform spaces into meditative arenas where historical narratives, fiction, and personal narratives merge, Seshee Bopape is the 2016 winner of the $100,000 Future Generation Prize. Her work has been featured in exhibitions such as the Marrakech Biennale 6 (2016); La Biennale de Montréal (2015); and the São Paulo Bienal (2016).

Zenzile’s work draws from African epistemology and the foundations laid by the father of the Black Consciousness movement, Steve Bantu Biko, as well as by African postcolonial thought leader and Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. The multidisciplinary artist often incorporates text and materials such as cow dung, earth, and sticks into his work to address racism, capitalism, and colonialism.

Rose investigates gender and race, as well as cultural stereotypes, in postapartheid South Africa. Her work has been featured in international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2001); the São Paulo Bienal (2016); and Documenta 14 (2017). “Tracey Rose: Waiting for God,” the artist’s midcareer retrospective, was held at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2011.

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