Brooklyn-based artist Simone Leigh makes history as the first Black woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale.
Simone Leigh at work in Brooklyn preparing for the U.S. Pavilion presentation at the Venice Biennale Arte 2022
“Simone Leigh is one of the most gifted and respected artists working today,” says Eva Respini, Barbara Lee chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston. Respini, along with Jill Medvedow (Ellen Matilda Poss director at the ICA), co-commissioned the 2022 U.S. Pavilion to be on view in Venice, Italy, April 23 to Nov. 27. “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,” says Respini. “Her work insists on the centrality of Black female forms within the cultural sphere, and serves as a beacon in our moment.”
The works will include a monumental bronze sculpture for the U.S. Pavilion’s outdoor forecourt as well as interrelated works in ceramic, bronze and raffia exploring the Brooklyn-based artist’s meditations on history, race, gender, labor and monuments— and reclaiming powerful narratives of Black women.
“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.”