SEMA KUMEK IT: Kenyan Exhibitors Fly The Kenyan Flag High In Prestigious Festival

Sema Kumek it!

Approximately two years ago, Jimmy Ogongo and Michael Soi went to witness the Venice Biennnale, in Italy, a one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the art world.

Apparently, that same year, 2015, Kenya should have had its own Pavilion but the discovery of too much Chinese works – in the Kenyan exhibition – led to the cancellation of the Pavilion.

Well, Jimmy and Soi’s move to see what happened in Italy made them write to the government and to everyone’s surprise, their report paid off.

The two made several reports which included the budget, to the history of the Venice Biennale. The two went on to choose the artistes who would represent Kenya in Venice which include Peterson Kamwathi, Paul Onditi, Richard Kimathi, Arlene Wandera, and Kenyan-German team of Mwangi-Hutter.

Since 2015 when the two, Oganga and Soi presented their reports to the government, it seems there have been silence as the deadline to confirm the participation of Kenya in the Biennale passed long time ago.

Rather than be discouraged, they went ahead and still put up a show. Now, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and the Arts of the Republic of Kenya the duo’s contribution to the 57th Venice Biennale is an exhibition dubbed Another Country.

It goes live on May 12 to November 26, 2017 at the Scuola Palladio Giudecca, a Kinder Garden and Middle School in the island of Giudecca.

The Giudecca area, where the school is located, is the remaining stronghold for local Venetians. It is associated with popular housing, and remains unaffected by the mass tourism, which is affecting the social fabric of the city.

Another Country is a title taken from James Baldwin’s 1961 novel narrating a crucial year in the lives of its 8 major characters. The story is an intensely long and passionate narrative – born out of intensity and compassion– urging attention, bringing to the fore timeless questions that demand explanations from a society that seems to insist that there is no hope. In this other country, social barriers within a raptured society are slashed away; the complexities of love and antipathy are mercilessly explored. The power of antagonisms is communicated with terrifying force, and what remains
are the truths and the realities of human experience stretched to its limits. – Jimmy Ogonga
Commissioner said in a release

The Kenya Pavilion partners with Zuecca Projects, a local cultural organisation in merging cultural boundaries through exchange and educational practice.

The artistic practice that will emerge between the interactions of the students, the community around them and the participating artists will result in a shared learning experience that will be presented later in the fall.

The initial period of the exhibition is that of exchange and mediation, through which ideas for new site specific work will be developed and delivered by the closing of the Biennale in November.

At the end of the program, in November 2017, a publication of the representation of Kenya at the 57th Venice Biennale.