African Art at the 2024 Venice Biennale – A Run Through

May 2, 2024

The Venice Biennale – dubbed “the art world’s Olympics” – is in full swing, and thousands of people worldwide have converged on the Italian city to savour and celebrate the splendour of contemporary art and architecture.

The exhibition opened its doors to the public on Saturday, April 20, with an awards ceremony and inauguration held at Ca’ Giustinian, the headquarters of La Biennale.

With a theme that centres around giving space and visibility to previously marginalised groups – Stranieri Ovunque—Foreigners Everywhere, 2024 marks a milestone for the African art scene as it records the most extensive participation of African countries since the launch of the Venice Biennale in 1895.

In this article, we dive into all that’s happening with African art at the 2024 Venice Biennale. Let’s get into it, shall we?

What is the Venice Biennale?

First, Biennale is an Italian word that translates to “every other year”.

By extension, the Venice Biennale is an international arts and culture festival hosted annually by the Biennale Foundation since 1895.

The Venice Biennale, currently on its 60th edition, takes place in Venice, Italy. It welcomes thousands of visitors annually (it recorded 800,000+ in 2022) to a showcase of Italian and international art exhibitions organised by the world’s top curators.

These exhibitions often feature provocative, groundbreaking work by contemporary artists from various countries, often with a central curatorial theme that explores social, economic and political ideas from an international point of view.

The Biennale differs from art fairs and regular exhibitions because the exhibited artworks are not typically available for sale, and exhibitions happen across multiple venues.

Exhibiting at the Venice Biennale is a big deal for many artists, especially emerging artists, as it brings them global exposure and launches them into international careers.

African National Pavilions at the Venice Biennale 2024

According to insights from Artnet, this year has seen Africa’s most extensive participation in the Venice Biennale’s history.

Unlike in 2022, when only 9 African countries presented official national pavilions at the Biennale, 13 African countries are taking up space and joining the conversation this year. 

Initially, 15 African countries were expected to participate; however, plans for the Kenyan and Moroccan pavilions were cancelled for various reasons.

Below, we’ve listed the 13 participating African countries with relevant details on each pavilion.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Commissioner: Joseph Ibongo Gilungula, Head of Cabinet of the Minister of Culture

Curator: Gabriele Giuseppe Salmi

Exhibiting Artists: Aimé Mpane, Eddy Ekete, Steve Bandoma, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Kongo Astronauts, Cedrick Sungo, Eddy Kamuanga

Venue: IPAB Opere Riunite Buon Pastore, Ex Capella, Castello 77

Exhibition Title: Invisible

Learn more about DR Congo’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale


Commissioner: Ministry of Culture Egypt – Accademia d’Egitto a Roma

Curator/Exhibiting Artist: Wael Shawky

Venue: Giardini

Learn more about Egypt’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Ethiopia (Debutant)

Commissioner: Amb. Demitu Hambisa Bonsa

Curator: Lemn Sissay OBE FRSL

Exhibiting Artist: Tesfaye Urgessa

Venue: Palazzo Bollani, Castello 3647

Learn more about Ethiopia’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Ivory Coast

Commissioner: Illa Ginette Donwahi

Curator: Simon Njami

Exhibiting Artists: Jems Koko Bi, François Xavier Gbré, Sadikou Oukpedjo, Franck Abd-Bakar Fanny, Marie Claire Messouma Manlanbien

Venue: Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli – Dorsoduro 947

Exhibition Title: The Blue Note

Learn more about Ivory Coast’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale


Commissioner: Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Nigeria’s Edo State

Curator: Aindrea Emelife

Exhibiting Artists: Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, Fatimah Tuggar

Venue: Palazzo Canal, Dorsoduro 3121 (Rio terà Canal)

Exhibition Title: Nigeria Imaginary

Learn more about Nigeria’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Republic of Benin (Debutant)

Commissioner: José Pliya

Curator: Azu Nwagbogu

Exhibiting Artists: Chloé Quenum, Moufouli Bello, Ishola Akpo, Romuald Hazoumè

Venue: Arsenale

Exhibition Title: Everything Precious Is Fragile

Learn more about the Benin Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Republic of Cameroon

Commissioner: Serge Achille Ndouma

Curators: Paul Emmanuel Loga Mahop, Sandro Orlandi Stagl

Exibiting Artists: Jean Michel Dissake, Hako Hankson, Kendji & Ollo Arts, Patrick-Joël Tatcheda Yonkeu, Guy Wouete, Angelo Accardi, Julia Bornefeld, Cesare Catania, Adélaïde Laurent-Bellue, Franco Mazzucchelli, Rex and Edna Volcan, Giorgio Tentolini, Liu Youju

Venue: Palazzo Donà delle Rose, Fondamente Nove, 5038

Exhibition Title: Pavilion of Wonders

Learn more about Cameroon’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Republic of Seychelles

Commissioner: Emmanuel D’Offay

Curator: Martin Kennedy

Exhibiting Artists: Jude Ally, Ryan Chetty, Danielle Freakley, Juliette Zelime (aka Jadez)

Venue: Arsenale

Exhibition Title: Pala exploring “The Piñata Effect – Adapt or Perish”

Learn more about Seychelles’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Republic of South Africa

Commissioner: Nosipho Nausca-Jean Jezile, Ambassador of South Africa

Curator: Portia Malatjie

Exhibiting Artists: MADEYOULOOK (Molemo Moiloa & Nare Mokgotho)

Venue: Arsenale

Exhibition Title: Quiet Ground

Learn more about South Africa’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Republic of Zimbabwe

Commissioner:  Raphael Chikukwa, National Gallery of Zimbabwe

Curator: Fadzai Veronica Muchemwa

Exhibiting Artists: Gillian Rosselli, Kombo Chapfika, Moffat Takadiwa, Sekai Machache, Troy Makaza, Victor Nyakauru

Venue: Santa Maria della Pietà, Castello 3701

Exhibition Title: Undone

Learn more about Zimbabwe’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Senegal (Debutant)

Commissioner: Mariéme Ba

Curator: Massamba Mbaye

Exhibiting Artist: Alioune Diagne

Venue: Arsenale

Learn more about Senegal’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale


Commissioner: Juliana Naumo Akoryo

Curator: Elizabeth Acaye Kerunen

Exhibiting Artists: Artisan Weavers’ Collective, Sana Gateja, Taga Nuwagaba, Xenson Ssenkaba, Jose Hendo, Odur Ronald

Venue: Bragora Gallery, Castello 3496

Learn more about Uganda’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

United Republic of Tanzania (Debutant)

Commissioner: Leah Elias Kihimbi, Deputy Director Ministry of Culture, Arts and Sports

Curator: Enrico Bittoto

Exhibiting Artists: Haji Chilonga, Naby, Happy Robert, Lutengano Mwakisopile (Lute)

Venue: La fabbrica del vedere, Calle del Forno, Cannaregio 3857

Exhibition Title: A Flight in Reverse Mirrors

Learn more about Tanzania’s Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

Follow the Pavilion’s updates on Instagram

Diaspora Pavilions at the Venice Biennale 2024 with an African Perspective

Outside of African countries, a few other pavilions in the diaspora are also leading their exhibitions with African and diasporic perspectives.

The Canadian Pavilion

Multidisciplinary artist Kapwani Kiwanga represents the Canadian exhibition, which presents a sculptural installation consisting of conterie (glass beads), which were historically used as currency and items of exchange. 

The beads symbolize past transactions that altered the socioeconomic landscape of the sixteenth century and beyond.

The work speaks to how the world was altered by trading these beads and the often destructive history of commerce.

Commissioner: National Gallery of Canada

Curator: Gaëtane Verna

Venue: Giardini

Learn more about Canada’s pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

The France Pavilion

Julien Creuzet, conceptual artist and professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, represents the French pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Inspired by the poetic and philosophical reflections of Aimé Césaire and Édouard Glissant on creolization and migration, Creuzet’s work focuses on the troubled intersection of the history of Martinique and the events of European modernity.

His installation draws on the imagination of the Caribbean and the intersection of African, Indian, and European cultures, focusing on emancipation, which must be felt to truly be seen.

Commissioner: Institut français on behalf of The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and The Ministry of Culture

Curators: Céline Kopp, Cindy Sissokho

Venue: Giardini

Learn more about the French pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

The Great Britain Pavilion

Artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah brings Great Britain’s pavilion to life with his Listening All Night To The Rain installation.

The installation centres around post-colonialism, ecology, and the politics of aesthetics, with a renewed focus on the act of listening and the sonic.

The exhibition is interpreted as a call to action that promotes listening as activism. Eight overlapping and interlocking multi-screen sound and time-based pieces are crafted to form a single installation.

The exhibition examines how diasporic people’s lives in Britain might be interpreted by addressing and linking vast historical narratives across five continents.

Commissioner: Skinder Hundal, Global Director of Arts at the British Council

Curator: Tarini Malik

Venue: Giardini

Learn more about Great Britain’s pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

The Dutch Pavilion (Netherlands)

Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), an artists’ collective of Congolese plantation workers, based in Lusanga in the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a plantation formerly owned by the British-Dutch multinational Unilever, represent the Netherlands at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

CATPC holds companies like Unilever accountable for plundering their societies and forests, bringing about great poverty, and wiping out biodiversity.

Their installation at the 2024 Venice Biennale consists of a wooden statue, Balot, made in 1931, and a performance film titled The Judgement of the White Cube.

Commissioner: Mondriaan Fund

Curator: Hicham Khalidi, in collaboration with Renzo Martens

Exhibiting Artists: Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC): Djonga Bismar, Alphonse Bukumba, Irène Kanga, Muyaka Kapasa, Matthieu Kasiama, Jean Kawata, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Athanas Kindendi, ⁠Felicien Kisiata, Charles Leba, Philomène Lembusa, Richard Leta, Jérémie Mabiala, Plamedi Makongote, Blaise Mandefu, Daniel Manenga, Mira Meya, Emery Muhamba, Tantine Mukundu, Olele Mulela, Daniel Muvunzi, René Ngongo, Alvers Tamasala, Ced’art Tamasala.

Venue: Giardini

Learn more about the Dutch pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

The Portuguese Pavilion

Portugal is represented by an artistic team consisting of Mónica de Miranda (visual artist & curator), Sónia Vaz Borges and Vânia Gala (researcher & choreographer).

The group organises collective actions, using pedagogy (the study of teaching methods), sound and movement to reflect on the relationship between nature, ecology and politics.

The pavilion’s Greenhouse exhibition explores the relationship between borders, soil, land and modern-day politics of the body. To build ecologies of care in the current ecosystem, it combines land to comprehend the processes of emancipation and self-discovery. These dynamics are seen in the migrant body, as the diaspora is always moving and changing.

Commissioner: Américo Rodrigues, Direção-Geral das Artes

Curators/Exhibiting Artists: Mónica de Miranda, Sónia Vaz Borges, Vânia Gala

Venue: Palazzo Franchetti, San Marco 2842

Learn more about the Portuguese pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale

The 2024 Venice Biennale Main Exhibition: Foreigners Everywhere

Top African-Born Artists by Sales 2024

Venice Biennale Arte 2024 Flyer. Source: La Biennale

The overarching art exhibition at the 2024 Venice Biennale titled Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere highlights art that was overlooked during the past century and celebrates the multiculturalism of the Global South.

The title is a jab at the wave of anti-immigrant agendas that swept through Hungary, Italy, the US, and other nations in recent years.

Adriano Pedrosa is the curator-extraordinaire behind the exhibition, drawing inspiration from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based Claire Fontaine collective. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”.

The exhibition boasts contributions from 332 artists and consists of two sections: the Nucleo Contemporaneo (contemporary nucleus) and the Nucleo Storico (nucleus of stories).

The Arsenale, the historic weapons depot for the Venice Republic, is home to the Nucleo Contemporaneo section, while the International Pavilion of the Giardini – the gardens housing the national pavilions of the Biennale – is home to the Nucleo Storico.

These two sections belong to the genres of modernist and contemporary works. Still, Pedroso weaves across disparate geographies and occasionally crosses historical and contemporary lines in the exhibition presentation.

According to Apollo Magazine, Pedrosa revealed that he had been thinking about his edition of the Venice Biennale for 13 years while speaking in Venice a few weeks before the exhibition’s opening. He aimed to curate an exhibition that selected artists through a meaningful and specific framework rather than the usual ‘open-ended’ Venice concept.

You can learn more about the Foreigners Everywhere exhibition here.


What is the theme of the Venice Art Biennale 2024?

The Venice Art Biennale 2024 is themed Stranieri Ovunque—Foreigners Everywhere. The exhibition’s primary focus is on artists of diverse backgrounds who are themselves foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, diasporics, émigrés, exiles, or refugees. It highlights their art, which has often been overlooked by the Global South over the years.

Where is the Venice Biennale 2024 taking place?

The Venice Biennale 2024 is taking place in Venice, Italy, with exhibitions hosted at the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale.

How long does the Venice Biennale last?

The Venice Biennale typically lasts six months each year. The 2024 Biennale opened on April 20 and will run until November 24, 2024.

How many National Pavilions are presenting Africa-centered art?

17 National Pavilions are presenting art with African perspectives. These are the pavilions of Cameroon, Canada, Congo, Benin, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Who is the artistic director of the 2024 Venice Biennale?

Brazilian curator Adriano Pedrosa is the artistic director and curator of the 2024 Venice Biennale 2024. He is the artistic director of the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP). He was recently appointed the 2023 recipient of the Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence, given by the Central for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York.

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