In Sibande’s practice as an artist, she employs the human form as a vehicle through painting and sculpture, to explore the construction of identity in a postcolonial South African context, but also attempts to critique stereotypical depictions of women, particularly black women in our society. The body, for Sibande, and particularly the skin, and clothing is the site where history is contested and where fantasies play out.  Centrally, she looks at the generational disempowerment of  the black woman and in this sense her work is informed by postcolonial theory, through her art making. In her work, the domestic setting acts as a stage where historical psycho-dramas play out. Sibande’s work also highlights how privileged ideals of beauty and femininity aspired to by black women discipline their body through rituals of imitation and reproduction. She inverts the social power indexed by Victorian costumes by reconfiguring it as a domestic worker’s “uniform” complexifying the colonial relationship between “slave” and “master” in a post-apartheid context.  The fabric used to produce uniforms for domestic workers is an instantly recognizable sight in domestic spaces in South Africa and by applying it to Victorian dress she attempts to make a comment about history of servitude as it relates to the present in terms of domestic relationships.

Pavilion of South Africa
Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art
Exhibitors: Mary Sibande, Siemon Allen, Lyndi Sales
Commissioner: Lethole Mokoena
Curator: Thembinkosi Goniwe
Venue: Torre di Porta Nuova, Arsenale Nuovissimo

Sounds like Venice 2011 to download single episode on your player

On May 1oth, The Academy of Romania in Rome and the l’Istituto di Cultura e Ricerca Umanistica of Venice presented in Roma a preview of the two national projects for Biennale di Venezia 2011 – Performing History – Exhibition of artists Ion Grigorescu, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkacova and Romanian Cultural Resolution – documentary.  Download


Maria Rus Bojan is an art critic and curator who lives and works in Amsterdam. She has been a curator at the Art Museum of Cluj, and the general director of the Sindan Cultural Foundation in Bucharest. She curated several international exhibitions, including “GENE.ET.RATIO ULTIMA RATIO” (2005, Centro Parraga Murcia, Spain), “Ready Media” (2008, NIMK Amsterdam, Contemporary Art Museum, Belgrade), “Locked-In” (2008, Casino Luxembourg), “Strategies for Concealing” (2008, C-Space Beijing), and “Tales of the Unexpected” (2010, Art Rotterdam). Since 2010, she has been the director of the curatorial and international program of Art Rotterdam.

Ami Barak is an independent curator and art critic based in Paris. He has curated numerous international exhibitions in the past few years, for instance “House Trip”, ArtForum Berlin (Berlin, 2007); “Can Art Do More?” (Jerusalem 2008); “Re-construction”, Young Artists Biennale (Bucharest 2008); “Elixirs of Panacea” Palais Benedictine (Fecamp 2010), among many others. His most recent curatorial project was “Art for the World: City of Forking Paths”, the Sculpture Project of the Expo Boulevard at the World Expo Shanghai 2010. He is currently a Lecturer at the Paris Sorbonne I University, works as an art adviser, and is a permanent collaborator for the magazine IDEA arts+society.

Bogdan Ghiu is a writer, journalist, and essayist based in Bucharest. He has published an impressive number of books on literature, philosophy, poetry, media theory, and literary criticism. He has written essays on art, communication, and the post-modern world. He studied under Jacques Derrida, and has also translated most of the French theorists into Romanian, including Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, and Bourdieu.