Nana Oforiatta-Ayim. Courtesy of the Ghana Pavilion.

Ghana to Make Venice Biennale Debut with David Adjaye–Designed Pavilion

Ghana’s minister of tourism, arts, and culture has announced that the country will present its first national pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, which opens on May 11 and will run through November 24. Titled “Ghana Freedom”—after an E.T. Mensah song that was composed in 1957 when the nation gained independence from Britain—the pavilion will be curated by writer, filmmaker, and art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim and designed by the UK-based architect David Adjaye.

Situated in the Artiglierie of the Arsenale, the pavilion will include a three-channel film projection by John Akomfrah, photography by Felicia Abban, paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, a video sculpture by Selasi Awusi Sosu, and installations by El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama. Okwui Enwezor, the former director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst and one of two curators to ever direct both Documenta (2002) and the Venice Biennale (2013), will serve as strategic advisor.

“It means a lot for us to have our first national pavilion at such a narrative-building event as the Venice Biennale,” said curator Oforiatta Ayim. “The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our ‘year of return’; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned, and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world; and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have yet to envision.”

Adjaye—whose design for the pavilion, with its interconnected forms overlaid with locally sourced earth, will recall classical structures in Ghana—said: “Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer. The commitment and inspiration shown by the president in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community.”