KENYA PAVILION ARTISTS ARRIVE IN TIME FOR VENICE BIENNALE OPENING
By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 8 May 2017)
The 57th Venice Biennale is the largest and most prestigious art exhibition in the world. And when it opened May 10th, Kenyan artists were there to participate in the festivities.
Among those who made it to Venice include the six artists selected to exhibit their artwork in the Kenya Pavilion as well as Pavilion curator Jimmy Ogongo and several others.
It’s an historic moment for Kenya since previous Kenya Pavilions were filled with non-Kenyans, either Italians or Chinese! But this year is different, thanks to the rallying of local artists two years ago who compelled the Kenya Government to commit itself to supporting a Kenya-run Pavilion.
Then, with follow-up from Ogonga and Michael Soi, Kenya’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Hassan Wario even wrote to the Biennale Board giving government endorsement to the kenya-run pavilion. Wario even established a Commission on the Kenya Pavilion and appointed the National Museum’s Dr. Kiprop Lagat its Chairman, made Lydia Galavu its Project Manager and Ogongo the Pavilion curator.
Initially, things seemed to run smoothly as Dr Wario committed government funding to the project. Ogongo also selected the six Kenyan artists to exhibit in the Kenya pavilion, namely Paul Onditi, Peterson Kamwathi, Richard Kimathi, Arlene Wandera and Ingrid Mwangi.
However, the promised funds has yet to come through. Nonetheless, the intrepid artists made it to Venice, assisted by assorted friends who believe in Kenyan artists and the importance of them being there in Venice.
“It may be that the funds were merely delayed and may be coming soon,” said Dr Lagat hopefully.
But the artists were not willing wait “till kingdom come”. They found their own means of getting there and we congratulate them for so doing.