Only eight African countries—Egypt, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe—will have national pavilions at the 2019 Venice Biennale, down by one from 2017. But for Ghana and Madagascar, it will be a debut showcase for their pavilions and artists at the biennale.
The 2019 biennale opens in Venice on Saturday, May 11 and runs to Nov. 24.
Ghana’s pavilion has been designed by Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye using soil, imported from Ghana. Adjaye is well known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.
Curator Nana Oforiatta Ayim has brought together six artists that cross gender, generational and geographic divides. The artists includes those living and working in Ghana and those of Ghanaian ancestry in diaspora (like British- Ghanaian filmmaker John Akomfrah), especially poignant as the country marks 2019 as the Year of Return to encourage a return home of its own diaspora and the descendants of enslaved Africans around the world.
“Ghana has a cosmopolitan history. People went out to study, for work and some went for political reasons, in exile, so this idea of diaspora is very much part of what our nation is,” says Ayim.