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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kenya's Sinking Venice Pavillion

At the 2013 Venice Biennale the world was  treated to the bizarre spectacle of Kenya (the country that gave the world Wangechi Mutu and Magdalene Odundo) being "prostituted" to China and Italy with a pavilion where artists from these countries greatly outnumbered Kenyan ones. As if this wasn't sufficient humiliation, despite the inevitable outpourings  of derision, critical outrage  and depositions to government ministries,  the same individuals  are set  to do a repeat performance this year. 

I think the piece of art work from the 2013 Biennale that summed up the  disgraceful 2013 enterprise most successfully  was the main instigator, Armando Tanzini's carved African woman. This piece (most likely not carved by him as he is in the habit of paying African artists to produce work for him under questionable ethical circumstances) seems to  hint at his relationship with Africa. The unfortunate woman lies prostrate on the floor with her well rounded "African bottom" raised invitingly for someone to take advantage of. 

The antics displayed through this pavilion inadvertently spotlighted the African realities of ruthless and irresistible foreign influence in pursuit of resources, exploitation, political, financial,moral and sexual corruption, collusion, impunity  and a failure to value ones own people/assets. 

In Venice this May it seems the world will be presented with the same unconscious exposé and meditation on negative aspects of Kenya and  it's continent. On the other hand - if action is taken it may it not be fanciful to imagine that viewers will be looking at an empty pavilion  with large signs stating " CLOSED BY PUBLIC DEMAND"?.