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Simone Leigh at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia, 2020 © Simone Leigh. Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis
12 Oct 2020

Simone Leigh to represent the United States in Venice in 2022

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, today announced that Simone Leigh will represent the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2022. Leigh’s unique sculptural work explores and elevates ideas about history, race, gender, labor, and monuments, creating and reclaiming powerful narratives of Black women. She will create a new series of sculptures for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, on view 23 April – 27 November 2022.

The 2022 U.S. Pavilion is co-commissioned by Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, and Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA Boston. The museum is organizing Leigh’s first survey exhibition—which will include works from the forthcoming Biennale—and a major monograph to be presented in Boston in 2023.

‘Over the course of two decades, Simone Leigh has created an indelible body of work that centers the experiences and histories of Black women and at such a crucial moment in history, I can think of no better artist to represent the United States,’ says Medvedow. ‘The scale and magnificence of Leigh’s art demands visibility and power; it is probing, timely, and urgent. We are proud and honored to share this work with audiences from around the globe at the next Biennale in Venice.’

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Simone Leigh, Jug, 2019 © Simone Leigh / 2019 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Photo: David Heald

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Simone Leigh, Las Meninas, 2019 © Simone Leigh. Courtesy of the artist and The Cleveland Museum of Art. Photo: Farzad Owrang

Leigh’s new body of work for the Biennale will include a monumental bronze sculpture for the U.S. Pavilion’s outdoor forecourt. The Pavilion’s five galleries will house interrelated works in ceramic, bronze, and raffia, populating the gallery space with figurative representations for the first time in many years. Central to the project is a partnership with the Spelman College Art and Visual Culture and Curatorial Studies Program to teach curatorial skills and nurture young talent. Nikki Greene, Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora at Wellesley College and Paul Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center are advisors to the project.

‘Simone Leigh is one of the most gifted and respected artists working today,’ says Eva Respini. ‘For the U.S. Pavilion, Leigh will create a series of new sculptures and installations that address what the artist calls an ‘incomplete archive’ of Black feminist thought, with works inspired by leading Black intellectuals. Her work insists on the centrality of Black female forms within the cultural sphere, and serves as a beacon in our moment.’

The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia opens on 23 April 2022.

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