59e BIENNALE DE VENISE – du 23 mai au 27 novembre 2022 – Pavillon américain : Simone Leigh.

La 59e Biennale d’art de Venise, qui devait initialement se tenir en 2021, a été repoussée d’un an, conséquence de la crise sanitaire, et aura donc finalement lieu du 23 mai au 27 novembre 2022. Une des premières artistes à avoir été sélectionnée pour représenter son pays est l’iconique Simone Leigh, qui officiera dans le pavillon US dédié.

Simone Leigh est une artiste américaine née en 1967 à Chicago de parents jamaïcains. Elle travaille à New York. Elle utilise différentes disciplines artistiques dont la sculpture, l’installation vidéo et la pratique sociale. Elle enseigne également au département de céramique de l’école de design de Rhode Island. Leigh décrit son travail comme étant « auto-ethnographique » et ses intérêts vont vers l’art africain, les objets vernaculaires, la performance et le féminisme. Son travail s’intéresse de près à la marginalisation des femmes de couleur et considère leur expérience comme un élément central de la société américaine. Ses objets utilisent souvent des matériaux et des formes traditionnellement associés à l’art africain ; ses installations influencées par la performance créent des espaces où se mêlent précédent historique et autodétermination.

Parmi les projets et expositions récentes, citons la Whitney Biennial (2019) au Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; «Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon» (2017) au New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; «Psychic Friends Network» (2016) à Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, Londres; «The Waiting Room» (2016) au New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; «The Free People’s Medical Clinic» (2014), un projet commandé par Creative Time; une installation publique présentée par le Studio Museum de Harlem au Marcus Garvey Park, New York; et une exposition personnelle au Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017).

Leigh est la première artiste à avoir été sollicitée pour le « socle High Line » ; sa sculpture monumentale «Brick House» a été dévoilée en avril 2019. Le travail de Leigh a été présenté dans «Loophole of Retreat», une exposition majeure au Guggenheim Museum de New York, pour commémorer ses réalisations en tant que lauréate du prix Hugo Boss 2018.

Simone Leigh a créé la Free People’s Medical Clinic, un projet de pratique sociale développé avec le collectif Creative Time en 20145. L’installation était située dans le quartier Bedford-Stuyvesant au cœur de Brooklyn à New York dans un bâtiment datant de 1914, propriété du célèbre médecin afro-américain Josephine English (1920–2011). En hommage à cette histoire, Leigh a créé un centre de santé sans rendez-vous proposant des séances de yoga, de nutrition et de massage, animé par des bénévoles en uniforme d’infirmière du XIXe siècle.

En 2016, elle reçoit le prix Anonymous Was A Woman. En octobre 2018, le prix Hugo Boss 2018 lui est décerné au Musée Guggenheim de New-York qui expose son travail en avril 2019.


David Kordansky Gallery, ‘Simone Leigh’, Los Angeles CA
High Line Plinth at the Spur, ‘Simone Leigh. Brick House’, New York NY (Outdoor Installation)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Hugo Boss Prize 2018, ‘Simone Leigh. Loophole of Retreat’, New York NY
Luhring Augustine, ‘Simone Leigh’, New York NY
Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center, ‘Simone Leigh. Hammer Projects’, Los Angeles CA
The Studio Museum in Harlem, Marcus Garvey Park, ‘Simone Leigh in Harlem’, New York NY
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, ‘Simone Leigh and Chitra Ganesh. My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell’, Bentonville AK
Tate Modern, Tate Exchange, ‘Psychic Friends Network’, London, UK
Kansas City Art Institute, ‘Simone Leigh. I ran to the rock to hide my face the rock cried out no hiding place’, Kansas City KS
New Museum, ‘The Waiting Room’, New York NY
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, ‘Crop Rotation’, Louisville KY
Tilton Gallery, ‘Moulting’, New York NY


The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, announces that Simone Leigh will represent the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2022. Leigh’s unique sculptural work explores and elevates ideas about history, race, gender, labor, and monuments, creating and reclaiming powerful narratives of Black women. She will create a new series of sculptures for the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, Italy, on view April 23–November 27, 2022.

The 2022 U.S. Pavilion is co-commissioned by Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, and Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA. The museum is organizing Leigh’s first survey exhibition—which will include works from the forthcoming Biennale—and a major monograph to be presented in Boston in 2023.

“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,” said 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.”

Leigh’s new body of work for the Biennale will include a monumental bronze sculpture for the U.S. Pavilion’s outdoor forecourt. The Pavilion’s five galleries will house interrelated works in ceramic, bronze, and raffia, populating the gallery space with figurative representations for the first time in many years. Central to the project is a partnership with the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective, an innovative program based in the Department of Art & Visual Culture at Spelman College, which prepares future curators, art historians, and museum professionals. Nikki Greene, Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora at Wellesley College and Paul Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center are advisors to the project.

“Simone Leigh is one of the most gifted and respected artists working today. 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. Her work insists on the centrality of Black female forms within the cultural sphere, and serves as a beacon in our moment,” said Respini.

Simone Leigh’s (b. 1967, Chicago, IL) works in sculpture, video, and installation—all are informed by her ongoing exploration of the experiences of Black femmes. Her work traverses across time, geography, and cultures, and her objects often employ materials and forms traditionally associated with African art and vernacular traditions across the African Diaspora.

Leigh’s monumental sculpture Brick House is currently installed on the High Line Plinth, New York. She received the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize in 2018 and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Studio Museum in Harlem in Marcus Garvey Park, New York (2016); Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (with Chitra Ganesh, 2016); New Museum, New York (2016); Creative Time and Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn (2014); and The Kitchen, New York (2014). She has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019); 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2018); New Museum, New York (2017); MoMA PS1 (2015); and Dak’Art 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal (2014). Her work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the ICA/Boston, among others.

Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston – Co-Commissioner

For two decades, Respini has been curating groundbreaking and ambitious exhibitions and has consistently worked with a diverse roster of artists exploring themes around representation and history, political agency, and material culture. Respini curated the critically acclaimed thematic exhibitions When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art (2019) and Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today (2018); and organized ambitious solo presentations with artists such as Firelei Báez (2021); John Akomfrah (2019); Huma Bhabha (2019); and William Forsythe (2018). Her other notable exhibitions include the retrospectives of Cindy Sherman (2012) and Walid Raad (2015) at the Museum of Modern Art. Well respected in the art field, she teaches curatorial studies at Harvard University, and publishes widely. Respini is currently working with Leigh on her first museum survey exhibition, scheduled for 2023 at the ICA.

Images copyright the artist – courtesy Hauser & Wirth New York

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