Rising multidisciplinary artist Kapwani Kiwanga will represent Canada at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, to take place April 20–November 24, 2024. Kiwanga is the first Black woman to receive a solo exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion and the second Black artist to so do, after Stan Douglas, who represented Canada at the Biennale in 2022. News of her selection was announced jointly by National Gallery of Canada, which commissions the pavilion commissioner, and the nonprofit National Gallery of Canada Foundation, which sponsors the effort.
The Canadian-born Paris-based Kiwanga works across media including video, installation, sound, performance, and sculpture; her research-based practice investigates the histories of marginalized and forgotten people. In past works, she has focused variously on the transatlantic slave trade, the “lantern laws” imposed in northern US cities in the 1700s in order to restrict the movement of Black people, and—perhaps most memorably—the floral arrangements appearing at diplomatic events related to the independence of African countries. Solo exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Power Plant, Toronto; New Museum, New York; South London Gallery; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kunstinstituut Melly (formerly the Witte de With), Rotterdam; and Haus der Kunst, Munich. Her work appeared in the main exhibition of the 2022 Venice Biennale. Kiwanga is the recipient of Canada’s prestigious Sobey Art Award (2018), France’s Prix Marcel Duchamp (2020), and the Zurich Art Prize (2022), among other honors.
Gaëtane Verna, currently executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, and formerly director of the Power Plant, will curate Kiwanga’s exhibition.
“Kapwani Kiwanga delves into the archives of the world and conducts in-depth research that is woven elegantly throughout her artworks,” said Verna in a statement. “She is interested in the role of art as a catalyst for revealing and addressing alternative and often silenced, marginalized sociopolitical narratives that are part of our shared histories.”